Farewell, Uncle Albert.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I've really been enjoying (.) (aka Antarctica, the weblog), lately. Best I can figure it, it's mostly the work of a guy called Jaybird who is presently posting from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, while presumably employed there as a greenhouse technician. His images and videos are worth hanging out for.
I've always been fascinated with Antarctica, whether it be real science, without ice, or At the Mountains of Madness.
I have to find a way to go there before I leave this planet.
For more fictional Antarctic weirdness see: The Antarktos Cycle. . . and I'm really looking forward to seeing this.
Monday, April 28, 2008
photo: El Manana Nuevo Laredo/AP
The banner reads, in Spanish: "Operative group 'The Zetas' wants you, soldier or ex-soldier. We offer a good salary, food and benefits for your family. Don't suffer anymore mistreatment and don't go hungry. We wont give you instant noodle soup."
One of Mexico's biggest drug cartels has launched a brazen recruiting campaign, putting up fliers and banners promising good pay, free cars and better food to army soldiers who join the cartel's elite band of hit men.
What I'd want to know is, if they're offering such a killer deal, why would they have to advertise?
What could be creating such an urgent need?
I'd be a little bit suspicious.
via Marginal Revolution
My favourite are roads that haven't been ridden for years. Sometimes, I leave a log on the road to see if someone else will travel here. When I return in a year or two, seeing my log has not been moved suggests that I still have no followers...
There are more than 2,000 dead towns and villages within a radius of 250 kms (155 miles) around Chernobyl reactor. Each year I travel, I see more and more ruined places...
Looters are superstitious folks and are afraid to rob churches. Also, nearby community members come to fix the abandoned churches every few years, so like separate islands they stand longer than all other buildings in the area...
Sunday, April 27, 2008
In 1969, 14-year-old Jerry Levitan managed to snag a brief interview with John Lennon in his hotel room in Toronto. Using his reel-to-reel tape recorder, Levitan asked Lennon a series of questions about peace, popularity, and messages in music. The answers give us a portrait of Lennon at the end of his involvement with The Beatles.
In 2007, Levitan collaborated with director Josh Raskin, illustrator James Braithwaite, and animator Alex Kurina to produce I Met the Walrus, a short animated film featuring a condensed version of the Lennon-Levitan interview set to sprawling stream-of-consciousness animation. The resulting film has won an AFI Award and was nominated for an Academy Award.
Wise and sensible words from John Lennon. I think today's peace activists would be well served to pay attention.
Our buddy across the Pond, The Presurfer dropped a goodly number of gems on us this past week. Here's a couple of them:
The Museum of Unworkable Devices is a celebration of fascinating devices that don't work. It houses examples of the perverse genius of inventors who refused to let their thinking be intimidated by the laws of nature, remaining optimistic in the face of repeated failures.
The Amen Break and the Golden Ratio
The 'Amen break' was a drum solo performed by Gregory Sylvester Coleman. The drum solo is frequently used as a sampled drum loop in hip hop, jungle and drum and bass music. It is 5.20 seconds long and consists of 4 bars of the drum-solo sampled from the song 'Amen, Brother' as performed by the 1960s funk and soul outfit The Winstons.
Mathematician Michael Schneider became intrigued when he saw an image of the audio waves because he immediately recognized the Golden Ratio in the structure of its timing. And he was surprised to find an even deeper relationship to the structure of the human body.
Below is a good introduction to the history and use of the Amen Break. The video is a bit long for our purposes, but the first few minutes should give you a good idea. Listen to it all for an excellent and comprehensive profile.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Martians and Us
check out Ballardian
RE/Search is all over Ballard
Speaking of Ballard, if you slept on the film adaptation of Empire of the Sun, you really should go back and watch it. In my opinion, it's Spielberg's one truly great film. I believe that in a hundred years it will be regarded as his masterpiece.
Empire of the Sun
Chiang Mai Yipeng Festival
In addition, it is the great festival of Lanna duly succeeded from ancient age. "Yi Peng" or full-moon day of second lunar month of Lanna villagers is corresponding to the full-moon day of 12th month of central region during the end of raining season and beginning of cold season when the climate is very nice and fair. One tradition of Lanna other than Loi Kra Thong on the river is to light up the lantern and float up in the sky based on their belief that to pay worship to Phra Ket Kaew Julamanee in the heaven or to relief one' bad luck for more auspicious life.
City after city, when they'd
find the spot where the body went in, they would find something else: The symbol of a smiley face.
University of Minnesota college student Chris Jenkins was found in the Mississippi River in February of 2003...
Minneapolis Police began investigating the case, which also caught the attention of two retired NYPD detectives...
Gannon and Duarte say they've discovered a link between Jenkins' death and the drownings of at least 40 other men in 25 cities in 11 different states...
"I think it is a serial killer, but not one individual. I would just say, a group of individuals, probably located in more than one state," Duarte said, adding that he thinks they may kill again...
Screenplays are forming as we speak...
Be careful out there.
Korea Customs Service shows off six Toppies, the world’s first cloned sniffer dogs, at a training center in Incheon on Thursday. They were cloned by a research team at Seoul National University. /Yonhap
Looks like they can clone cuteness, too.
Friday, April 25, 2008
U.S. Spies Use Custom Videogames to Learn How to Think
In the wake of the intelligence bungles that propelled the United States into the Iraq war, it's no secret that the nation's spies have been working to improve the quality of their analysis. Now the top U.S. military intelligence agency has come up with a new tool for teaching recruits critical thinking skills: videogames.eye-catcher:
Rapid Onset can best be described as Zen Buddhism meets the National Intelligence Estimate. It begins with the rookie analyst dreaming of meeting a white-robed guru on a mountaintop. The guru proceeds to throw him off the mountain; clinging to a rope, the analyst can only climb back up if he recites the Eight Questions of Intelligence Analysis.Hey, whatever works.
via Danger Room
NTT Firmo transmits data through skin
via Pink Tentacle:
NTT has begun selling a device that transmits data across the surface of the human body and lets users communicate with electronic devices simply by touching them, the company announced on April 23.Electronic smog? You're soaking in it.
1) Someone is going to freak out about this. (read: End Times/Big Brother/EMF)
2) Some user is going to turn up with cancer and file a lawsuit.
3) Someone is going to figure out how to hack this.
One high order of probability:
1) Someone is going to find a way to seriously injure themselves with this technology.
Dystopia? You're living in it.
McLuhan, Web 2.0 Master
I recently came across a perceptive McLuhan quote via Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur:
In the 1950's Marshall McLuhan proposed a reality television show in which corporations would present their major problems to a mass audience. "For every expert idea that arises inside an organization," McLuhan advised executives, "the public has a thousand better ideas than you ever heard of."
This eerily parallels the current dogma of Web 2.0. In fact, McLuhan's statement is almost the canonical definition of crowdsourcing. The key difference, is that in McLuhan's day, the thousand of better ideas from people you never heard of were unattainable in practice. They were out there, but there was not efficient way to harness them.---
This tickled me:
The idea, which comes from Scandinavia, is simple: instead of books, readers can come to the library and borrow a person for a 30-minute chat. The human “books” on offer vary from event to event but always include a healthy cross-section of stereotypes.(...)
First out were Social Worker (“naive”) and Immigrant (“wasting resources”) and then Muslim (“beard”) was borrowed for a quick chat, presumably about bombs and his attitude to women. The rest of us tucked into the sandwiches and pretended that we weren't at all worried about being, almost literally, left on the shelves.
I think it's a great idea, though I would go for something a little bit more free-form and less dependent on stereotypes.
via Gems Sty
(from a 1986 Nike exhibition game in Trieste, Italy)
If there was a Hindu god of basketball, Michael Jordan would be its living incarnation.
His iconic stature has made his basketball prowess the stuff of cliché and it has become somewhat fashionable to downplay his greatness.
These people are just flat out wrong. Michael Jordan transcended basketball. He was poetry to the instruction manual prose of the NBA.
He was best known for his slam dunks, but that was only a small part of his game. If you're not familiar with his work, scan through the YouTube page where I found the above video.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Juliana Peloso is a truly fine artist living and working here in Savannah. Her paintings and mixed media pieces are outstanding.
Check out her website. It's interesting to see how her work has evolved over the years.
The Foreign Policy/Prospect Top 100 Public Intellectuals
Here's their bios.
Who got snubbed? Who's undeserving?
I'll start you off: Al Gore?
If you only read one of these items, read Tomorrow Museum's excellent Science Fiction is for the Renaissance Men.
Crisis happens when we fail to look at the large picture, but who is standing far enough away to see?to:
Artist Fritz Haeg thinks we should follow Buckminster Fuller’s advice. “Basically, his theory is that the powers that be want us to be specialists,” he tells this month’s Art Review, “Because they don’t want us to see the big picture, because the more you see the big picture, the more you are apt to question things. He’s saying that decades ago, but I think its even more true today.”and furthermore:
Public Service Announcements have always provided hackneyed obvious information (”Give a hoot, don’t pollute.”) We should have Public Education Announcements: 30 seconds of Spanish phrases, Newton’s Laws, or basic geometry theorems. Everyone would be able to explain the second law of thermodynamics as quickly as we can say “Shoulda Hada V8.”Brava!
We need more renaissance (wo)men, omnologists, and generalists.
To navigate through this century we'll still need specialists, but as a standard, specialization is limiting. Over-specialization stems from old world guild secrets and old school paranoid nationalism. It is a defunct system and needs to be reformatted. (see)
What we're short on is people like Leonardo, Mary Somerville, Buckminster Fuller and Howard Bloom. What we're woefully bereft of is the "informed citizenry" necessary for a properly functioning democracy as well as an emerging global economy.
Fuse this with the speculative cast of science fiction and we're going somewhere. Science fiction has, collectively, been a sort of surrogate renaissance man in a society needing all the vision it can get.
It will be interesting to see how nascent fields like speculative fiction, future studies, omnology and generalism will grow, merge and transform over time. It would be helpful if more traditional disciplines were to adopt this kind of thinking and help facilitate connections. Entire new fields of study could emerge, like macro-omnology, comparative science, urban synergetics or psychohistory.
There are encouraging signs that this is already happening. Now we need to catch up with the "informed citizenry" part. Start with the kids.
25 leading-edge IT research projects
Some cool stuff in there, including the Dark Web*, T-rays, vocal joysticks and honeybees.
* not to be confused with Deep Web
RFE/RL Study Explores How Al-Qaeda Exploits Internet
What it is:
"This is a study that really looks at two things," he says. "It looks at the global message that Al-Qaeda puts out and that its affiliates put out. It also looks at the network that is behind that -- and then, how...they get that [message] out to the world. What is the network that brings that [message] to people over the Internet -- because the Internet is really the primary delivery mechanism for Al-Qaeda."very interesting:
"Al-Qaeda, which was very, very advanced and very, very impressive in its use of new technology, is, I think, a bit behind the curve," Kimmage says. "They are sort of stuck in Web 1.0. They are producing what they think is the coolest content, the best videos, the most impressive press releases. And they are creating the most sophisticated -- the best network -- to distribute it to the web. What's missing is interactivity in user-generated content -- a world in which users generate a lot of the content and in which people what to interact with others. Al-Qaeda really seems stuck in the old model.via monochrom
And now for something completely different...
Lynchings in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital
KINSHASA, April 22 (Reuters Life!) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.People get a bit touchy about their penises.
via Clumsy Crooks
Details interviews John Waters
Q: Who’s your most unlikely fan? Did Henry Kissinger ever come up to you and say, "Hey, John—I just loved Female Trouble"?
A: It’s funny you say that, because there is a picture of me and Henry Kissinger hanging on my bulletin board in Baltimore. It was taken at a magazine party. And I do send boxes full of my movies, T-shirts, and that kind of thing to soldiers in Iraq. One whole troop told me they were being bombed while watching Female Trouble.
I wrote the major back and said, "I feel like Bob Hope!" He wrote, "I promise more of them know who you are than Bob Hope!"
via Boing Boing
More stuff to worry about, care of The Daily Galaxy:
If another quake of the magnitude of the New Madrid Quake of 1811 should hit the Midwest, it would be the worst natural disaster in American history. Overall the loss of life could run into the hundreds of thousands.
The 5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the Midwest last Friday was felt from Kansas to Georgia, and aftershocks have continued over the weekend, However, according to geophysicists, the aftershocks could continue for months, emanating from the nation’s center, known to be a weird seismic locale.
Looks like we're in the periphery of the shake zone here in Savannah. Occasionally, we feel one of the tremors emanating from Charleston, S.C.. They're usually in the low threes.
I was awake during the one that hit last weekend, but I didn't feel anything.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I guess it's all a matter of perspective, but I don't think it's such a bad idea. The Afghanis seem pretty well adjusted. A lot more than that British guy.
Still, it probably doesn't speak well for their effectiveness as a fighting force.
And don't try to tell me that those British soldiers aren't havin' a go, now and again.
via Danger Room
Steven Pinker thinks a lot about language and human nature. In this 2007 Pop!Tech presentation he explores the links between indirect speech and social relationships. He manages to break it all down in a relatively simple and lucid manner.
Indirect speech is when we don't say exactly what we mean, but veil our intentions in innuendo, counting on the listener to read between the lines to derive meaning.
It seems like a lot of people live in a world of fairly constant indirect speech. This has led me into trouble in the past. Most commonly, if you tell someone, for example, "That painting needs a little work." many will take this as sarcasm and react differently than you might expect, considering that when you said a little, you were speaking directly and meant that it just needed a little touching up. This is a simpler version of this type of misunderstanding. Others have led to far more complex and distorted exchanges over time.
It's worth the 20 minutes if you get the chance.
A resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Donald Roller Wilson is a painter who describes his work as a "by-product of his thoughts." According to him, he spends his "days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network. . . .More than anything, my work deals with pointlessness. It takes all the arrogance out of everything you do when you know that god is so much bigger than you are. And yet everything you are and do and see is filled with god: the grass, the asphalt, and the people fighting over Aqua net at Wal-Mart...."
"Painted in China" knock-offs of his work have been spotted on eBay. My landlord has a convincing looking DRW that he bought in a second-hand shop in New Mexico. We're still trying to figure out if it's authentic.
There are a number of his paintings and prints that that I can't find anywhere on the net. Many of them far more bizarre than what you'll see in these sources.
More: The Meyer Gallery
Honda is adapting some of its robotics technology for human use. One of these crossovers is a newly revealed walking assist device for disabled individuals.
The cooperative control technology utilized for this device is a unique Honda innovation achieved through the cumulative study of human walking just as the research and development of technologies was conducted for Honda’s advanced humanoid robot, ASIMO.
Applying cooperative control based on the information obtained from hip angle sensors, the motors provide optimal assistance based on a command from the control CPU. With this assist, the user’s stride will be lengthened compared to the user’s normal stride without the device and therefore the ease of walking is achieved.
I can envision an "industrial" variant that employers can use to guide their workers through time and space as needed. RFID navigation nodes would move workers through facilities hastily while providing them with instructions and information during the trip. It might prove to be a problem if one was using the restroom at the time of summons.
(Do I need a "dry-cynicism alert"?)
I had a friend, Juanita, who got in trouble for sleeping around. We were friends since we were civilians, and we shared a tent together. The commander said that it didn’t matter that she was my friend. She had done something wrong and had to be killed. I closed my eyes and fired the gun, but I didn’t hit her. So I fired again. The grave was right nearby. I had to bury her and cover her with dirt. The commander told me: “You did very well, even though you started to cry. You’ll have to do this again many times, and you’ll have to learn not to cry.”
—Human Rights Watch interview with “Angela” Bogotá, 2 June 2002
Small Wars Journal posted links to English translations of the Air & Space Power Journal (Spanish edition) issue on child soldiers.
There are somewhere around 300,000 child soldiers serving in war zones around the globe with close to half a million serving in countries not at war. During the last decade, approximately 2,000,000 child soldiers died during armed conflicts.
If you're relatively new to this subject, these articles will be a good primer. If you're already familiar with the child soldier problem, this will provide more valuable insight for you from a likely different, i.e. more military, perspective. Considering that this is a military as well as a social issue, important insights can be gained from this point of view.
This is one of those issues that further affirms that the human race has a long way to go before we can call ourselves "civilized" or "evolved."
Image: Foster & Partners
Foreign Policy ran a brief outline of the more ambitious building projects in some of the world's "least free" countries. (There's an accompanying article, but it's subscriber only.)
Above is the Khan Shatyry Entertainment Center in Astana, Kazakhstan, due to be completed this summer. What you're seeing is a transparent, tent-like exterior meant to absorb sunlight and create summer-like conditions for an “indoor city” within the capital, where residents can gather to swim, golf, and shop during the bitterly cold Kazakh winters.
I have a sneaking suspicion that this structure is going to look like crap after a couple of years.
Image: Amir Hossein Abolfath
Gripped by an astronomical spring fever, many northern hemisphere stargazers embark on a Messier Marathon. Completing the marathon requires viewing all 110 objects in 18th century French astronomer Charles Messier's catalog in one glorious dusk-to-dawn observing run.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
From Kate Connolly:
Having kept the literary world in a state of suspense for years over whether he was prepared to carry out his long-standing threat to burn his father's last novel, Dmitri Nabokov has finally announced that he is prepared to save it from destruction.(...)
From his winter home in Palm Beach, Dmitri justified his decision by saying, "I'm a loyal son and thought long and seriously about it, then my father appeared before me and said, with an ironic grin, 'You're stuck in a right old mess - just go ahead and publish!'"
From Danger Room:
A Russian MiG 29 shot down what Georgians say was an unarmed drone used by the ministry of interior. And guess what? They've got video (the beauty of drone warfare). The Georgians, needless to say, are really mad.
Didn't they have something like this in Soylent Green? Their's was much bigger, I seem to remember.
This one belongs to the Tokyo Fire Department.
From Weird Asia News:
Don’t worry if you happen to be presumed dead and picked up by Robokiyu, he has fresh oxygen pumping through him at all times for your convenience.That's a comfort.
Robokiyu is also not above apology and will happily pour you a drink to say sorry.
From 20 Amazing and Unusual Weather Phenomena.
This one jumped out at me:
Non-Aqueous Rainvia The Presurfer
Rare and yet real, cases exist of rains of animals instead of water. This has occurred occasionally throughout history, from the Biblical times up to recent history. Meteorologists are still unsure of the cause.
From The Boston Globe:
Children have cut themselves. In some cases, 9- or 10-year-old kids have staged suicide attempts. The little boys sob unless they're allowed to wear dresses. The girls want to be called Luke, Ted, or James.I have mixed feelings about this.
Until recently, children with cross-gender feelings rarely received modern medical care - and certainly not hormone shots. After all, who would allow a child to redesign his or her body?
But in the past few years, some doctors have come to believe that kids should be allowed to have some control over how they grow up. Dr. Norman Spack, 64, argues that transgender kids tend to be much happier - and less likely to harm themselves - when they're able to live in their preferred gender role.
I entertained some pretty bizarre notions when I was a kid, especially around the ages of 10-12. When I saw Charly, I wanted to be a retarded janitor that lived in a one room apartment... for about a day and a half. (As it turned out, I ended up a semi-retarded tour guide that lives in a one bedroom apartment. Creepy.)
Now, I don't want to come off as insensitive, but we all learn valuable lessons from the mistakes of others. Case in point:
(Be careful at work)
My problem with this has nothing to do with any moral, religious or gender issue. It's just that, as a former and well accomplished kid, I know what sort of things children can obsess on. The only thing that stopped me from acting out on many of my childhood obsessions was a combination of the accumulated knowledge of what would fly and the fear of getting my ass beat.
These are different times.
Monday, April 21, 2008
From Politics and Soccer:
Prof. (Vanda) Felbab-Brown argues that belligerents derive political benefits from controlling illicit economies. The local population that survives on the illicit economy owes their economic wellbeing to the belligerent group (a term that includes terrorists, insurgents, gangs, etc.). The government, whether its trying to eliminate poppies in Afghanistan, trying to shut down smuggling networks in the Sahara, or trying to eliminate coca in Colombia, is trying to shut down the economies that many ordinary people's lives depend on. Thus, a belligerent group's motivations for controlling an illicit economy is not just that they are greedy (although they may be), but the desire for control over illicit economies can be to gain political power.A few years back, I read an article comparing terrorist culture with that of American street gangs. The similarities were striking, especially in the case of the Palestinians. I'm still trying to dig up this article. I'll post it when I do.
It's no surprise, really, if you think about it. Belligerent groups have been operating much the way they do today since Biblical times. We band together. We hold territory and control economies with various mechanisms. We repel invaders and invade to assume our neighbors' wealth. We're a bit more sophisticated about it these days, in many ways, but the essential elements are still in place whether it be on a national level or in the hood. (I live in the hood and have for many years. If you pay attention, you become aware of a vibrant micro-economy and social order with distinct and observed rules and conventions. Actions have predictable consequences. The system is regulated by "what goes around comes around" and threat of physical violence. In essence, it's the same as it ever was, in particular, it's nuanced.)
Johnson lived to dominate, and he used crass behavior to bend people to his will. At 6-ft., 3-in. tall and 210 lbs., he liked to lean over people, spitting, swearing, belching, or laughing in their faces. Once, he even relieved himself on a Secret Serviceman who was shielding him from public view. When the man looked horrified, Johnson simply said, “That’s all right, son. It’s my prerogative.”
UbuWeb has a selection of Kamler's work. (click on the red link for .avi)
I couldn't find much in the way of a biography on this artist, except that he was born in Poland in 1936 and the info that's available on UbuWeb.
via PCL Linkdump
Sunday, April 20, 2008
I don't feel like reading today, so we're going to look at some pictures and watch a few videos.
image: John Henry McNulty
Man trapped in elevator for 41 hours
This has been all over the place this past week, but for those of you who missed it:
Supes is 70!
image: Nick Main
from Inspire Me Now!
Water Balloon Exploding at 2000 Frames per Second:
via Wired Science
Control Rooms of All Types
Johan Lorbeer, Performance Artist
from Blame It On The Voices
It is not just the eyes that see color. Some people see color when they hear music. This phenomenon, when a sense is stimulated and another sense experiences a sensation, is called synesthesia.
This is what Brahms Capriccio, opus 76 no. 2 might look/sound like to a synesthetic. (more or less; at least the colors if not the shapes):
via Everyone Forever
Me and my dad, c. 1971
After all these years, this is still my favorite music video.
Röyksopp - Eple
Have a great week, y'all!
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The Barbican Arts Centre recently held a Stanley Kubrick retrospective. The foyer of Cinema 1 displayed some treasures from the Kubrick Archive. This storyboard depicts a long shot exterior of The Overlook Hotel. Note Kubrick's very specific notes:These are most likely notes to his second unit director.
IGNORE WHAT LOOKS LIKE
A CENTRAL PATH JUST HAVE
THE SNOW SMOOTHLY AND
ROUNDLY CHANGE ITS DIRECTION
UP THE SLOPE AT ABOUT THE
POSITION OF WHAT IS
DRAWN AS A CENTRAL PATH
THE FRAME IS EXAXCTLY 1-1:85
Obviously you compose for that
but protect the full 1-1:33 area.
In order to accurately get the
central path curve, you have to
set up the shots and put stakes
in the ground so that the curve
as seen through the ground
glass corresponds to what is
drawn. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY
TO DO IT REPEAT NO OTHER
WAY exercise the greatest
care as the compositional
effect of a different path might
be BAD BAD BAD
MAKE SURE IT DOESN'T
WIND UP LOOKING LIKE
A SNOW PLOW DID IT
After you push the snow around
the wind and fresh snow fall
should keep it from looking plowed
(sorry, that's the biggest version of the image available)