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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Links for 2010-12-07

  • Fiction – Reality A and Reality B –
    HARUKI MURAKAMI: "The moment our minds crossed the threshold of the new century, we also crossed the threshold of reality once and for all. We had no choice but to make the crossing, finally, and, as we do so, our stories are being forced to change their structures. The novels and stories we write will surely become increasingly different in character and feel from those that have come before, just as 20th-century fiction is sharply and clearly differentiated from 19th-century fiction."
    (tags:writing )

Invaders from Mars

[Why is our political system so fucked up? Turns out it's because we've been invaded by aliens. -egg]
[By Charlie Stross]

Invaders from Mars: "
"Voting doesn't change anything — the politicians always win." 'Twas not always so, but I'm hearing variations on that theme a lot these days, and not just in the UK.

Why do we feel so politically powerless? Why is the world so obviously going to hell in a handbasket? Why can't anyone fix it?

Here's my (admittedly whimsical) working hypothesis ...

The rot set in back in the 19th century, when the US legal system began recognizing corporations as de facto people. Fast forward past the collapse of the ancien regime, and into modern second-wave colonialism: once the USA grabbed the mantle of global hegemon from the bankrupt British empire in 1945, they naturally exported their corporate model worldwide, as US diplomatic (and military) muscle was used to promote access to markets on behalf of US corporations.

Corporations do not share our priorities. They are hive organisms constructed out of teeming workers who join or leave the collective: those who participate within it subordinate their goals to that of the collective, which pursues the three corporate objectives of growth, profitability, and pain avoidance. (The sources of pain a corporate organism seeks to avoid are lawsuits, prosecution, and a drop in shareholder value.)

Corporations have a mean life expectancy of around 30 years, but are potentially immortal; they live only in the present, having little regard for past or (thanks to short term accounting regulations) the deep future: and they generally exhibit a sociopathic lack of empathy.

Collectively, corporate groups lobby international trade treaty negotiations for operating conditions more conducive to pursuing their three goals. They bully individual lawmakers through overt channels (with the ever-present threat of unfavourable news coverage) and covert channels (political campaign donations). The general agreements on tariffs and trade, and subsequent treaties defining new propertarian realms, once implemented in law, define the macroeconomic climate: national level politicians thus no longer control their domestic economies.

Corporations, not being human, lack patriotic loyalty; with a free trade regime in place they are free to move wherever taxes and wages are low and profits are high. We have seen this recently in Ireland where, despite a brutal austerity budget, corporation tax is not to be raised lest multinationals desert for warmer climes.

For a while the Communist system held this at bay by offering a rival paradigm, however faulty, for how we might live: but with the collapse of the USSR in 1991 — and the adoption of state corporatism by China as an engine for development — large scale opposition to the corporate system withered.

We are now living in a global state that has been structured for the benefit of non-human entities with non-human goals. They have enormous media reach, which they use to distract attention from threats to their own survival. They also have an enormous ability to support litigation against public participation, except in the very limited circumstances where such action is forbidden. Individual atomized humans are thus either co-opted by these entities (you can live very nicely as a CEO or a politician, as long as you don't bite the feeding hand) or steamrollered if they try to resist.

In short, we are living in the aftermath of an alien invasion.

National Geographic: Ten weirdest animals of 2010

National Geographic: Ten weirdest animals of 2010: " Wpf Media-Live Photos 000 271 Cache Papua-New-Guinea-New-Species-Bat 27185 600X450

The tube-nosed fruit bat, AKA 'Yoda Bat,' is one of the ten weirdest newly discovered animals of the year, according to National Geographic's editors. Others include the T. Rex leech, sneezing snub-nosed monkey, and the pink handfish. 'Ten Weirdest New Animals of 2010: Editors' Picks' (Thanks, Marilyn Terrell!)



Tic-Tac-Toe: "The only winning move is to play, perfectly, waiting for your opponent to make a mistake."

Thursday, December 9, 2010


[The Wikileaks Cablegate revelations, awesomely summarized in 3 minutes. To Rachmaninoff. -egg]

WikiWecaps: "[YouTube video Link]

Joe Sabia of Get Whirled offers this hilarious and appropriately instructive recap of the Wikileaks saga as it has unfolded over the last few weeks.


How the Antikythera Mechanism worked -- with Lego!

[This is utterly awesome. -egg]

You honestly think I give a fuck about what you wore today?

[I really don't quite know what to make of this site, but I like it. -egg]

You honestly think I give a fuck about what you wore today?<br>For...: "

You honestly think I give a fuck about what you wore today?

For real, real?

While you were outside of a Starbucks.

Tweeting low-res pics of your hindquarters.

Showing off your crotch blowout.

I was in a fucking mine shaft.

Fading my selvedge.

And reading Glenn O’Drama’s bio.

On my iPad.

You city slickers slay me.

You really do.

But I guess if Rozay is a dealer.

And Yeezy is a martyr.

Then y’all are some rugged motherfuckers.

But on the real.

When’s the last time you heard it like this?

Henley and suspenders.

Scragglepuss beard and lived in White’s.

Clay pomade and fucking boulders.

Do they let you bring a shovel to brunch?

At Balthazar?

Didn’t think so.

Just because I look like a 49er.

Doesn’t mean my swagger isn’t on a hundred.



I’m chillin’ in the Sierra Nevada.

Somewhere near Kings Canyon.

Prospecting for steez.

You’re drinking a Sierra Nevada.

Somewhere near Flatbush.

Prospecting for chicks with septum piercings.


High-speed camera shooting FROM a train

High-speed camera shooting FROM a train: "

Graeme Taylor shot out the window of a train at 210 frames per second, reversing the usual trick of shooting and slowing down a high-speed object from a stationary spot; rather, he shot a stationary spot from a high-speed object. The effect is something like a mundane bullet-time, where the world has stopped so that no one can do much of anything. It's mesmerizing.

As Jason Kottke writes, 'Wonderful illustration of the concept of frames of reference.'

Both glides were filmed by sticking a - relatively cheap - digital camera out of the window of a train as it arrived at a station. The 'trick' is the camera collects images at a rate of 210 per second - but the film is played back at 30 frames per second. So, every seven seconds of footage that you watch corresponds to 1 real second. At least at the start, one real second is plenty of time for someone to move into, then out of, the camera's field of view, but isn't enough time for them to really do much: hence, the frozen effect. It breaks down towards the end not because I'm doing something clever with the frame rates (captured or replayed), but simply because the train was stopping! Thus, as it decelerated, any given person would be in view for longer, and have more time to point an arm, take a few steps along the platform, or maybe even notice me at the window. Any such action captured is still slowed down seven-fold during playback, just as with my usual static captures.

At least one other person has tried this before: Trey Ratcliff captured a station in Japan this way over a year ago, describing the effect as 'Stuck in motion'. He also mixes in other slow motion footage and its inverse, time lapse photography, in this gorgeous video, Heartbeats of Time.

'Pointless, action-free and totally mesmerising'


Glorious, elaborate, profane insults of the world

Glorious, elaborate, profane insults of the world: "An open Reddit thread entitled 'What are your favorite culturally untranslateable phrases?' rapidly degenerated into a collection of rollicking, profane, grotesque insults, each more alarming and delightful than the last. Read the whole thing, of course, but here are some of the less profane examples:

* The Dutch phrase for giving too much attention to insignificant details is 'ant fucking'.

* Afrikaans: 'Jou mammie naai vir bakstene om jou sissie se hoerhuis te bou Vieslik!' your mother engages in prostitution in order to raise funds for the building materials necessary to construct a brothel from which your sister will operate.

* German: 'backpfeifengesicht' - a face in need of slapping

* Finnish: 'Kyrpä otsassa' - a vulgar way to say you're incredibly annoyed. It means that you have a dick in your forehead (should be visualized as hanging forward, rather than actually in your forehead, for some reason).

* Finnish: 'pilkunnussija' - a comma fucker; someone who corrects little or meaningless things.

* Spanish: 'Está tratando de cagar mas alto de lo que le da el culo' - He's trying to shit higher than his ass can reach.

What are your favorite culturally untranslateable phrases?

(Image: Okay, so it's funny., a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from andrewbain's photostream)


Fictional story of a flash mob gone terribly wrong

[Fast and interesting. -egg]

Fictional story of a flash mob gone terribly wrong: "

Tom Scott's Ignite London talk 'Flash Mob Gone Wrong' is a fictionalized account of just how badly a flash mob could go. It's got an eerie ring of plausibility, largely because each of the steps leading up to the disastrous ending actually happened, just not all together. It's a freaky way to spend five minutes.

Flash Mob Gone Wrong by Tom Scott, Ep 77


Every Billy Joel hit played simultanously

Every Billy Joel hit played simultanously: "

The food court in hell. Via Waxy.


Snow Chihuahua (Boing Boing Flickr Pool)

Snow Chihuahua (Boing Boing Flickr Pool): "snowdog.jpg
'Cliffy Explodes,' a photograph contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by BB reader Andy Meehan of Bozeman, Montana, where it is undoubtedly very cold today. Who says Chihuahuas aren't snow dogs?


Poland's "Crooked House"

Poland's "Crooked House": " Wikipedia Commons F F6 Krzywy Domek W Sopocie

The Krzywy Domek (Crooked House) is part of a shopping center in Sopot, Poland. The 2004 structure looks like a set from Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari, but according to Wikipedia, it was "designed by Szotyńscy & Zaleski who were inspired by the fairytale illustrations and drawings of Jan Marcin Szancer and Per Dahlberg." Krzywy Domek


Scientists figure out structure of enzyme that causes plaque to stick to teeth

[Oh please oh please oh please. -egg]
Scientists figure out structure of enzyme that causes plaque to stick to teeth: "Scientists have modeled the structure of the enzyme used by the dirty rotten Lactobacillus reuteri bacterium to attach itself to tooth enamel and cause cavities. 'This knowledge will stimulate the identification of substances that inhibit the enzyme. Just add that substance to toothpaste, or even sweets, and caries will be a thing of the past.'

teeth-cavities.jpgThe University of Groningen researchers analysed glucansucrase from the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri, which is present in the human mouth and digestive tract. The bacteria use the glucansucrase enzyme to convert sugar from food into long, sticky sugar chains. They use this glue to attach themselves to tooth enamel. The main cause of tooth decay, the bacterium Streptococcus mutans, also uses this enzyme. Once attached to tooth enamel, these bacteria ferment sugars releasing acids that dissolve the calcium in teeth. This is how caries develops.

Tooth Decay to Be a Thing of the Past? Enzyme Responsible for Dental Plaque Sticking to Teeth Deciphered
Photo by Shakespearesmonkey. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


Video of kids' reactions to watching viral videos

[Pretty funny, I thunk. -egg]