Saturday, March 30, 2002
Thursday, March 28, 2002
Gayle Brandeis does some intense writing.
Breath is such a powerful metaphor for, and fount of, creativity, because it exists right at the nexus of body and mind. It is our only physiological function which is at once voluntary and involuntary, shifting between the two modes like an alternating current, dipping equally into both conscious and unconscious awareness. The breath can take us deep into our bodies, as well as up into our highest realms of thought, all the while reminding us how interconnected, how inseparable, these two paths truly are.
You may have heard of the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the synching of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz. But this isn't the only mystery that surrounds the band. The Publius Enigma is the story of an anonymous Usenet poster connected to the band in some way that claimed that The Division Bell album held a very tangible and real prize. Was it a cosmic mystery of an esoteric nature or just a gimmick to sell records?
AS SOME OF YOU HAVE SUSPECTED, "The Division Bell" is not like its predecessors. Although all great music is subject to multiple interpretations, in this case there is a central purpose and a designed solution. For the ingenious person (or group of persons) who recognizes this - and where this information points to - a unique prize has been secreted.
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
A Salon article rips into the Academy Awards maybe a bit too much. (via Robotwisdom)
Whoopi's hosting unfortunately sucked real hard. She phoned in her performance, like, from a cellphone from a parking garage in Guam. Her material was just awful, which was mainly surprising because the lines written for the presenters were, for the first time ever, actually pretty clever.
Saturday, March 23, 2002
The Game Formerly Known as Puck-Man
The story of Pac-Man.
Probably the most significant change [in bringing the game to the US from Japan] however was in the name. Kids in the United States (being the bad juvenile delinquents we're often seen as by the rest of the world), tended to vandalize things a bit more. Just as you'll often find the instructions for hot air hand dryers scratched and mauled to say things like "Push butt" instead of "Push Button", Midway was afraid Puck-Man would get no less a treatment. Replacing the P with an F would take little imagination, and visions of obscenely altered Puck-Man cabinets across the country is not a something they cared to chance. So, it was decided to change the name of the game to Pac-Man.
Get Pumped Up
The former head of the US Olympic drug testing program gives an interview about performance enhancing drugs and sports. Howstuffworks also has a good background on the topic.
I had no idea that narcotics and beta-blockers were banned in archery and shooting competitions because they steady hand movements. Two supplements that haven't been banned and that are effective at building muscle are creatine, an ATP precursor, and glutamine, an amino acid. I imagine the reason they aren't banned is that they're in all kinds of foods and necessary for survival.
The history of doping is actually pretty interesting. Alot of the drugs were discovered behind the Iron Curtain decades ago and their nasty side effects revealed on some unsuspecting fraulines. These days alot of the drugs athletes use come from growth enhancers given to farm animals. Apparently by 2010 there will be powerful vaccines available which can increase specific muscle fiber types.
Friday, March 22, 2002
Thursday, March 21, 2002
Getting the Girl. The NY Times Magazine ran a great article awhile back on the societal and emotional consequences of being able to choose the sex of your baby. In the US, the ratio for the overall population is 0.96 males for every 1 female. But it has been changing over time and there's some controversy as to why this is.
The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical costs of an aging population, sizable trade deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.
Widening income inequality? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer? Sounds like a bunch of commies but no, actually it's the CIA.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
Get off your ass and jam
The Scandinavian rock band Soundtrack of Our Lives play a great live set on Morning Becomes Eclectic today. Have a listen.
What I love about KCRW's site is that they maintain a massive archive of all of their shows. There are some great Chocolate City shows, including Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow and Rickey Vincent, author of Funk.
Monday, March 18, 2002
Guide to Roadside Geology
This page which links to some great geology related virtual field trips was linked to from this page which has suffered some serious link rot. But the Southern California section is well done and even includes the Portuguese Bend. Also worth seeing, is the Devil's Postpile which none of the previous pages link to for some reason.
Hot AT-ST on AT-ST action
The Scout Walker Kama Sutra (via Metafilter).
With the "Bowled Over" position you have to be careful not to get to rapid in your motions or you may very well end up bowling your partner head over heels which, although funny, can break the mood a bit. This position also has the advantage of bringing the 'dominant' scout walker's side turrets into play - they can use them to stroke their partners ankles and the backs of their lower thigh. If you intend to practice this position you should be careful not to shoot each others to bits off when you climax - if your weaponry goes off you both risk blowing your partners head off. You have been warned.
Sunday, March 17, 2002
Change is here to stay
Michael Lewis' book Next: The Future Just Happen describes the revolution that we are knee deep in and examines some of the consequences.
One of the main themes of the book was the idea that intelligence moves to fringes of networks as they evolve. So for the establishment to survive it seeks out and absorbs ideas at the fringe because to do otherwise would result in being relegated to the fringe. Like sharks, it's swim or die. Socially and culturally, it's the outsider's creativity that feeds the mainstream. It's what cool hunters do for a living. In business, innovation happens in start-ups, which get bought by the established players as happened with Netscape and Nullsoft with AOL. In politics, new ideas are introduced by third parties and co-opted by the incumbents.
Another section was about the social and political consequences of everyone having a TiVo-like personal video recorder. Will there be such a thing as mass media or will entertainment splinter and become more individual? He wraps up the book by thrashing Bill Joy and the Long Now dorks for trying to stifle progress and for being attention whores. There is an accompanying BBC series and website.
Saturday, March 16, 2002
Strange plants and a strange code
What is the Voynich Manuscript? See it for yourself. (via The Daily Grail)
The 204 pages of the Voynich manuscript are crowded with writing, tiny letters penned in a careful, even hand. Almost every page carries an illustration drawn in a crude but compelling style that suggests a determined amateur rather than a trained artist. First come pictures of fantastic plants with bulbous seedpods and snaky roots, then dizzying wheel-shaped astrological and cosmological diagrams. Later pages are covered with bizarre panoramas depicting hundreds of plump, naked women bathing in water that comes streaming out of long, loosely sketched pipes and flumes. The women have rouged cheeks and carefully dotted nipples.
But as curious as the pictures are, the most unsettling thing about the Voynich manuscript is the text itself. It’s written in a mysterious alphabet that exists nowhere else in the world, and after centuries of study, not even the most accomplished medieval historians and military code breakers have been able to figure out what it says, or who wrote it, or when, or where, or why.
Wednesday, March 13, 2002
They call it "rendition". Is it a necessary evil, or more evil than necessary?
"After September 11, these sorts of movements have been occurring all the time," a U.S. diplomat said. "It allows us to get information from terrorists in a way we can't do on U.S. soil."
Monday, March 11, 2002
A Battle for Hearts and Minds
The Oscar campaign for A Beautiful Mind seems to be pretty effective at turning potential controversy to their advantage. Studios with movies up in the same categories against it have waged an underground assault (via Drudge) trying to paint the biopic about schizophrenic mathematician John Nash as factually incorrect by leaving out his wife beating, homosexuality and anti-Semitism.
"It's out of control," said Universal spokeswoman Terry Curtin. "It's unfortunate that some people are stooping to that level. It's gotten to be so dirty. The last pure place that you thought you could go is completely tainted: the Academy race."
I wonder if she was able to say that last part with a straight face.
Sunday, March 10, 2002
A site devoted to ancient maps (6,000 BCE - 1880 CE) and cartography with hundreds of scans of maps and charts. Each map is also accompanied by an extensive background monograph.
Saturday, March 09, 2002
An old article summarizes the ideas (diffusionist) and evidence (mostly archeological anomalies) that several civilizations had contact with the Americas before Columbus. Dry but interesting. Also in the Atlantic is a recent interview that asks and answers some great questions, including why didn't Europeans die in large numbers from Native American diseases.
Thursday, March 07, 2002
A chicken and an egg are lying in bed. The chicken is smoking a cigarette and the egg has an annoyed expression on it's face. The egg turns to the chicken and says, "Well, I guess that answers that question."
Wednesday, March 06, 2002
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
The success of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack didn't come from nowhere but rather followed in the footsteps of the Buena Vista Social Club Soundtrack. The now typical synergistic formula of documentary/art house film with a popular soundtrack of offbeat music was transparent with the release of Genghis Blues which featured Tuvan throat singing. Now it's just a cliché. If I had to bet I would say that anyone owning those two CDs probably has a CD of traditional Peruvian music and of course the obligatory collection of Celtic music.
So how do you know what will be the next viral explosion of semi-exotic music for bobos? Who determines whether modern Basque folk or Indonesian Gamelan music will sell big? Following Ry Cooder might be one way to find out. He travels the world in search of interesting music almost like an anthropologist searching for a lost tribe and brought the BVSC and Ali Farka Touré to prominence.
Monday, March 04, 2002
Morpheus goes to sleep
Since the file sharing program Morpheus was shut off from the rest of the Fast Track network last week the accusations have flown back and forth. The head of Morpheus claims his companies servers were the target of a DOS attack from Kazaa, the company that Morpheus used to licence the Fast Track protocol from. To make things even more interesting, Kazaa was recently bought by a mysterious Australian group. You can follow the mess on Zeropaid as it unfolds.
Saturday, March 02, 2002
An alternative view off the film Monster's Ball.
Simply and bluntly, the film is a Ku Klux Klan fantasy: A poor white racist gets to "legally lynch" a black man (conveniently depicted as a triple murderer who proclaims himself a "bad man"), then takes the dead man's dream woman, at her invitation (no rape necessary), and, finally, gets her acquiescence if not outright approval of his killing of her black man.
Uhh... I think that killing P. Diddy (who played the murderer) and having sex with Halle Berry is a fantasy of alot of men (and possibly women too). But seriously, even not having seen the movie I find the article raises some interesting questions. This guy, who is a SAG director, does have some odd opinions. In an interview I heard him give, he accused Halle Berry of entering into some sort of Faustian bargain to win an Oscar which involved her going topless in the movie Swordfish earlier this year.
The Price of Markets
Who Lost China's Internet?
Here's a problem for your American company. You want access to the lucrative and growing Chinese information technology market but the Chinese government is demanding some questionable things from you. If you're Cisco you bend over backwards to make your routers filter subversive content. If you're Network Solutions you donate 300 viruses to study. If you're Yahoo! then you censor chat rooms, filter searches, and underreport your traffic. But if you're Microsoft you refuse to cough up your source code and call their bluff. Strangely, that puts Microsoft, The Voice of America, and the Cult of the Dead Cow on the same side. (via Peek-a-Booty)