Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I don’t know how I feel about this story the eminent Aeswiren sent over. Images in the sky could be damned psychedelic. I’m even far from unhappy if and when a Goodyear or Fuji blimp floats over. On the other hand, and knowing more than is good for me about the ways of the world, I foresee sky full of Coors and Nike adverts. I would never ever recommend blowing holes in the helicopter formations with a shotgun because I imagine that would be illegal in most states, but it might be aesthetically interesting. But what about some miniature version of the WWII barrage balloon?
“Mechanical fireflies could help create a new kind of 3-D display, say researchers at MIT. Standing in for the bioluminescent beetles will be LED-fitted, remotely controlled micro-helicopters that can be choreographed electronically to display shapes and images as they hover in midair. The project, called Flyfire, would use RC helicopters similar to the toys sold at the mall today. “Each of the helicopters then acts as what we call a smart pixel,” E Roon Kang, the MIT research fellow who is leading the project, told Wired.com. “By controlling their movement, we can have the pixels flying through the air.” The idea is almost all theoretical now since it is in its very early stages, says Kang. Researchers at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab and Aerospace Robotics and Embedded Systems (ARES) Lab are jointly developing the idea. In traditional displays, pixels are static and arranged on a flat surface. Finding a way to make truly three-dimensional displays has been a frequent subject of research, but few practical solutions have emerged despite decades of effort. The MIT researchers are betting that if each pixel can be made to hover in space and can be controlled reliably, they can create a giant 3-D display.” (Click here for more.)
Click here for Billy Fury
The secret name is Tinker Bell
Alex Chilton – RIP
Posted by Mick at 3/18/2010 08:57:00 PM
One time, long ago, our pal Aeswiren and I had a discussion as to whether long range probes like Voyager, and even SETI might discover ET lifeforms, but, at the same time, reveal to those lifeforms we were here and ripe for the picking. We were of course, drunk and probably stoned.
“Albert Harrison, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, who is speaking at the meeting tomorrow, will raise concerns about the radio signals humans are sending out to any eavesdropping aliens. Scientists have used telescopes to listen for alien broadcasts for more than 20 years, but we have also beamed our own signals into space. Harrison wonders if we might be sending the wrong kind of messages. "Some of them are serious, but there's a lot of hoopla, like love letters and commercials. What would we make of an alien civilisation if the first thing we translated from them was a commercial for a snack food?" he said. Scientists will debate whether Earth should be more proactive in trying to make contact with aliens by broadcasting signals to solar systems that might harbour life. Some enthusiasts believe any alien civilisation capable of reaching us can only have survived long enough to develop the necessary technology by solving major social problems, such as war, poverty and discrimination. Harrison disagrees. "I do think there's a risk in active searches for extra-terrestrials. The attitude seems to be they're friendly, they're a long way away, and they can't get here. But if you wake up one morning and an armada of extra-terrestrial spaceships are circling Earth, that prediction won't necessarily hold," (Image from the unique Valerie.)
Posted by Mick at 3/18/2010 08:47:00 PM
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
This is serious but did we have to get the news from The Guardian in the UK?
"Last week, Utah governor Gary Herbert signed into law Utah HB 462, known ignominiously as "the miscarriage bill". It was a reworked version of the original bill, introduced by Republican State Representative Carl D Wimmer, adjusted to address criticisms that the initial language "could have got women sent away for lifelong prison terms for falling down stairs or staying in an abusive relationship". The revised version "designates the 'intentional or knowing' miscarriage as criminal homicide" and "stipulates that a woman can be charged with homicide for 'the death of her unborn child', unless the death qualifies as legal abortion". Thus are the women of Utah left with a new law that criminalises illegal abortion in a state that increasingly discourages legal abortions. Utah already requires parental notification and consent for minors seeking abortions, mandates a 24-hour waiting period to terminate a pregnancy, subjects women seeking abortions to state-directed counselling which overtly discourages abortion, and allows public funding for terminations only in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality, or threat to the women's life or physical health. (Don't think you can get away with claiming your psychological health is at risk, ladies! Everyone knows that women would just lie about that to get an abortion because there's nothing conceivably traumatising about being forced to carry a pregnancy you don't want to term.)” Click here for the rest.
Posted by Mick at 3/17/2010 06:57:00 PM
I hate to admit it but I’m old enough to remember these machines. Back in 1962 or hereabouts I had broken up with one of my very first – and I thought very gorgeous – girlfriends and wanted her back in the worst, demented, lovelorn kind of way. I hit on this cunning scheme to win her back with music. I wrote this ineptly poignant 12-bar and then lugged my Harmony Sovereign acoustic guitar down to this Voice-O-Graph booth on Victoria Station, dropped my coins right into the slot, and then droned and fumbled my way through the song. I was rewarded for my trouble with a scratchy low-fi acetate which I duly presented she who was the focus of my desire. And, damn me, but it worked. We got back together for a couple more months and then entropy ruled and we went our separate ways. By an odd twist of fate, we rediscovered each other a few years later, when I was a speedfreak rock singer/poet and she had become a nurse. It was huge initial fun, but then quickly degenerated into to disaster. But I guess that’s the rocky route of the confused heart.
Click here for Robert Johnson
The secret word is Uniform
Charlie Gillett – RIP
Posted by Mick at 3/17/2010 06:40:00 PM
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Although I have used Facebook, both for its limited social interaction, to sell my books, music, and public appearances, and just simply to remind the world that I am still alive and out here, I have never so much as approached Twitter. I don’t know if this stands me in bad stead for the following remarks, but I figure, having started, I might as well go on. Back when Twitter was first drawn to my attention, I decided far too much of my online time was devoted to keeping this blog alive and functioning, and also couldn’t see how I could write within a format where I was limited to bites of 140 characters. I had already evolved a somewhat condensed writing style for Doc40, but, goddamn it, this was short attention span written even shorter, and surely must be detrimental to the common literacy. It also struck me as a exercise in disturbing cyber-narcissism.
For a very brief few moments I idly toyed with the idea of creating some kind of Burroughs-style cut-up work of fiction that could be Twittered out into the ether, but quickly abandoned it as impractical and far too time consuming. Then, just a few days ago, I learned on Facebook about a Twitter novel of mass multiple authorship. For a moment or so, I toyed with the idea of participating, but rejected it for much the same reasons as the cut-up idea.
One other thing also bothered me, although my lack of experience may be making me a victim of a misconception. Surely once you are connected to a Twitter source (a Twit?), aren’t you hooked to a constant commentary, dangerously like an electronic approximation of the bicameral mind described by Julian James in his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind? Jaynes proposed that human brains existed in a bicameral state until as recently as 3000 years ago, and – as described by Wikipedia – “ancient people in the bicameral state would experience the world in a manner that has similarities to that of a modern-day schizophrenic. Rather than making conscious evaluations in novel or unexpected situations, the person would hallucinate a voice or "god" giving admonitory advice or commands, and obey these voices without question; one would not be at all conscious of one's own thought processes per se.”
Thus it would seem, should I take up Twittering, I would be a virtual approximation of the Text of God, and not even my egomania can elevate me to pantheon level. But maybe that’s why politicians and advertizes, who lack such reservations, are so keen on Twitter.
Click here for Bob
The secret word is Patriarch
Posted by Mick at 3/16/2010 07:49:00 PM
On Sunday I was concerned with breakfast in space. Now this story from The Guardian in London warns us that far worse is afoot in the void…
“Would-be lawyers at a British university are taking a lesson from the Starship Enterprise and boldly going into the potential legal conundra of outer space. For the first time in a UK syllabus, a module on law and the legal system beyond Earth's atmosphere will be included as an option for students starting at Sunderland University in September. "It is a fascinating topic, which many students will benefit from studying," said Viv Kinnaird, dean of the faculty of business and law. Topics already arising in the field include gaps in health and safety for potential space tourists, and damage to satellites from other objects orbiting the Earth. Looking further ahead, some lawyers have raised questions about land titles on the moon or other planets. Chris Newman, one of the lecturers who will be teaching the module, said: "It is a growing area which has relevance across commercial, company, property, environmental, intellectual property and IT practice sectors. We think that our qualification will offer valuable knowledge in a fascinating area." The course will offer relief from more conventional topics in the three-year bachelor of law degree such as pensions law or conveyancing. Ben Middleton, another of the staff lined up to teach the course, said: "We expect it to be an extremely popular module." The syllabus is likely to draw on earlier attempts to extend legislation into uncharted areas, such as the arguments between nations over huge sections of Antarctica. There are no plans as yet to test students on how they would make a case for Earth law against that of other civilisations, should any be discovered.” (Image supplied by the talented Valerie.)
Posted by Mick at 3/16/2010 07:37:00 PM
Monday, March 15, 2010
"We are your friends. Really."
Okay, enough is enough. It’s a nothing but a Barbie reality. For some months I have participated in Facebook. (Is participated the right word?) It has now reached the point where I would appear to have just shy of a thousand “friends.” That I only really know a very small fraction of these people doesn’t really bother me. I figure that a large number of them may like my work, and I am quite honored that they have asked to be “added.” On first glance the number may seem mildly formidable, but I neither feel guilty about it, nor let it go my head. I note instead that former 1970s groupies from the era of Quaaludes, spangles, and big hair can boast two or three times that number, amply proving that the pen is in no way mightier than the blowjob. What does bother me, however, is that Facebook-generated email has now become a far greater nuisance than spam ever was, and I begrudge the clicks and keystrokes it takes to decline every invitation to travel to Paris at my own expense to see a band that is wholly unknown to me.
Worse still is the illusionary nature of so much of what now clogs my in-box. The only reality on Facebook is used to move product, sell tickets to shows, or raise profiles. Beyond that, far too much of my mail reads like some approximation of what follows. “Frodo Scrodknocker became a fan of World Peace, and suggested you become a fan of World Peace too.” I assume that Frodo Scrodknocker is sincere in his intentions. What I question is does he really think he’s achieving anything? Even assuming that Frodo’s fan page is so highly organized and successful that he manages to net himself a half million respondents, what does Scrodknocker imagine he will a achieve? Does he seriously imagine that all of his amassed virtual signatures will immediately result in all the jihadists, tribal machete gangs, and teenage AK47-cocaine-&-gunpower addicts in the Congo will drop their weapons and go home. Does he think North Korea and Iran will mothball their nukes? Or that Israelis will beat their tanks into plowshares, and the Pentagon will hang out a going out of business sign?
No, of course they won’t. Frodo’s efforts will achieve precisely nothing, except to convince himself and his fan base that they are actually doing something useful, when, in fact they are merely manipulating themselves into a mutually-created, self-congratulatory, Scrodknocker time-sink. Surely what he have here is a post-Huxley, Darwinian-based pitfall of natural selection that will negate both human intelligence and human will. No wonder Facebook has no recognizable business plan. It doesn’t need one. It’s perceived function is to isolate, defuse, and neutralize all dissent, while – I have to imagine – freely feeding an infinite database of the most intimate thoughts, wants, and opinions of FB members. We lock our intelligence and – worse still – our activism into a closed loop as merciless as any iron chain, and then actually thank Big Brother from the privilege because he gives us Farmville and Mafia Wars. Is it any wonder zombie movies are so popular?
I was going to continue with some thoughts on Twitter, because, if anything, I view Twitter as even more dangerously scientological in its effects on our culture, but I’ve written enough for a single post, so I guess I’ll get to that tomorrow. (The images of the Barbie Madmen collection were supplied by the stalwart HCB.)
Click here for Leonard Cohen
The secret word is Futile
Posted by Mick at 3/15/2010 07:09:00 PM
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Hey ho, it’s Sunday morning and the breakfast of fantasy is from the promised, pristine, and oh-so sanitary, space-wheel-and-moonbase future of a decade past in which HAL 9000 opened the pod bay door on request from Dave. Today, in the USA, the clocks went forward but most else resisted any similar motion, except maybe cell phone technology. Do I miss these worlds-to-be that never-were? Do I feel deprived? Many yes, but maybe not this one. It was all a little too clean. The food was too white or too pinky beige, and far too symmetrical. Like a bleached version of a kind of rice flour and high fructose corn syrup maybe from Japan or India, or some part of the Mediterranean, except bleached of all color, in a molded plastic tray with built-in juice boxes and completely devoid of sauce, condiments or gravy. Hardly an appropriate follow-up to any imagined night of floating-bubble-sweat, free-fall, zero-g, orbital debauchery high on speedballs of narcotics and stimulants yet to be invented, where only space could hear your co-mingled screams. Yes, my friends, in space there will be no bacon.
Click here for the Rolling Stones (again)
The secret word is Velcro
Posted by Mick at 3/14/2010 03:50:00 PM
You wondered where the all antimatter went after the Big Bang? Seems like we’ve found it.
“UPTON, NY — An international team of scientists studying high-energy collisions of gold ions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a 2.4-mile-circumference particle accelerator located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, has published evidence of the most massive antinucleus discovered to date. The new antinucleus, discovered at RHIC’s STAR detector, is a negatively charged state of antimatter containing an antiproton, an antineutron, and an anti-Lambda particle. It is also the first antinucleus containing an anti-strange quark. The results will be published online by Science Express on March 4, 2010. “This experimental discovery may have unprecedented consequences for our view of the world,” commented theoretical physicist Horst Stoecker, Vice President of the Helmholtz Association of German National Laboratories. “This antimatter pushes open the door to new dimensions in the nuclear chart — an idea that just a few years ago, would have been viewed as impossible.” Click here for more.
Click here for Hot Quark Soup video
Posted by Mick at 3/14/2010 03:43:00 PM
Yesterday I expressed my concerns about both Dan Dare and Bill Hicks movies, and speculated on the potential of each for bigtime disappointment. I can’t say I wonder too hard about the new Runaways biopic, except that, back in 1976 or there about, I went on the road with The Runaways on assignment for the NME. Now they’ve made a movie about it all with an almost-grown Dakota Fanning playing Cherie Currie, I can’t help but fondly muse that someone might play me as a cameo? I doubt it, but who knows. And who, if it happened, might that be? Click here for a trailer
Posted by Mick at 3/14/2010 03:34:00 PM