Musicians on Call helps route your "gently used CDs and new, unused CD discmen" to patients in hospitals in NY, NJ, PA, and MA.
Does the 300-CD collection you just ripped to ogg-vorbis or mp3, then put on your media center count as "gently used"? I bet it does. Not that I'm advocating any sort of Robin-Hood approach to charitable giving; it was just a fleeting thought. (And not one that MoC advocated, legally speaking, or me for that matter. I'm assuming they have a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. So forget I asked.)
[via The Morning News]
Download, print, fold, and cut a rhombic or dodecahedron calendar (the latter is shown below) for anyone on your gift list who things 12-sided die are really cool.
You can also choose among several different languages, the year, starting day of the week, and file format (PS or PDF). No word yet on whether or not there's a translation table to convert months and days to damage points. (April 15! That's gotta hurt!) [via boingbong]
Since 1984, PNCBank has provided an annual index of the cost of purchasing all the items listed in "The Twelve Days of Christmas." One more indication of the move from an industrial to a service economy:
In 1984, after all the receipts were added up, the cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” would have set you back $12,623– the goods alone accounting for 62 percent of your total bill. Today, the numbers tell a different story. The total cost has climbed to $17,297, a 1.6 percent annualized increase over 20 years, but services now account for 74 percent of the index, indicating a steady rise in the cost of skilled labor while the price of two turtle doves and three French hens may be a little easier on your wallet.
[via Lockergnome Bytes]
Actually, it's the pointy-haired boss and catbert on patents. It'd be funny if it weren't so true.
I hadn're realized that David Byrne has a weblog. Mundane and funny, in that David-Byrne sort of way.
Artist James Clar works with LEDs to make interactive light pieces (flash site--not overly bandwidth intensive, but an html version of the site is also available). Includes images, movies, news, and other stuff.
In which the author provides a linear narrative to talk about the death of network structures. He admits to the irony of this.
The final decade of the last century witnessed the dramatic rise of hypertext as a literary, technical, social, and intellectual phenomenon. Today, despite the fact that hypertext provides the conceptual underpinnings for the World Wide Web (among other things), "hypertext" remains a relatively peripheral term. In this talk, I'll track some of the ways that "hypertext" has been articulated during the last five decades, describing how the social construction of hypertext inscribed the technology(ies) in limiting and ultimately self-defeating ways. I'll then attempt to track (and construct) some possible futures for a dramatically redefined hypertext, one constructed as an "ethic of reference" within and among social communities rather than a technical practice.
Today, despite the fact that hypertext provides the conceptual underpinnings for the World Wide Web (among other things), "hypertext" remains a relatively peripheral term.
During the mid to late 1990s, hypertext seemed too good to be true: the simple node/link technology provided a powerful way for understanding and enacting textual structures that had long been hinted at.
For literary theorists, hypertext provided the true weapon for assasinating the author: readers now wrested control of the text away, kicked the author in the head a few times for good measure, and skipped off into the dawn of a new day.
For poets and creative writers, hypertext provided the foundation for erecting a space for free exploration and innovation, unburdened by the repressive limits of the line.
For technical writers, hypertext provided a method for dealing with individual users in varying, concrete situations. Henceforth, rather than force users to tediously thumb through manuals, hypertextual online help would bring the right information (and *only* the right information) directly to the user, when the user needed, not a moment sooner or later.
I can almost hear the children laughing and singing now.
Last semester, I asked students in my information architecture course if they knew what "hypertext" was. Most of them looked at me blankly, a few raised their hands. One said, "It's the Web." (Notably, the Usenet group on hypertext that I used to participate in during the 1990s collapsed with the advent of the Web, as new users began posting innumerable technical questions about HTML.)
I suppose I should be glad for the Web. But it leaves me wondering, as Jay Bolter did: What happened to hypertext?
Here are some very brief suggestions, then a rough map for where we might go next.
Another Story: In 1998, working with a team of graduate students at Purdue University, we constructed a collaborative hypertext consisting exclusively of fragments of other texts we'd used during the semester: philosophies of communication, edited collections on technology and theory, email messages from our University President, and more. Working in Storyspace, we generated a massively interconnected Web of textual fragments. Excited, we shipped the URL to the site off to the Web based journal PostModern Culture. Reviews were decidedly mixed: The first reviewer thought the site was the greatest thing since CheezeWhiz. The other two reviewers, unfortunately, strongly suggested rejecting the site, because it didn't contain any of our own text.
The problem of hypertext is that it *suggests* reader control, but rarely delivers it. Indeed, we are never completely free in any choice, constructed as we are among various social institutions that encourage us strongly (and sometimes with physical force) to act in certain ways.
Still, what the metaphor of hypertext can remind us is that the boundaries around any single text are suspect, including (and perhaps especially) the boundaries around any hypertext. As people living in the world, we constantly shift, filter, rearrange, and forge new connections among the multitude of communications in my immediate (and virtual) environment. Any isolated (or even global network) of hypertext cannot contain possible meanings. As Derrida put it several decades ago, there is always a surplus of meaning. Although Landow and others often claimed that hypertext captured that surplus and made it tangible for readers, in fact all it did was provide suggestions about those things.
But what a post-hypertextual theory and practice can offer is this: the understanding that living in the world is an ongoing process of forging, examining, breaking, and rearranging connections among a nearly infinite number of objects. This seems like a rather mundane or old point, but let's consider what it means if we apply it to textual practices:
Hypertext can remind us of the need to rearrange and forge new meanings, but in the end it's only one other closed structure. It's up to us to open those structures
This all sounds very simple, but those of us with some experience know that saying text is open and making a text actually open are two different things. So here are some implications (and questions) to discuss.
I actually never get writer's block; I'm happy to keep churning out garbage, pedal to the metal, which I figure the editors will clean up later. (They rarely do ... which explains the majority of what I've published. Blame the editors, not me; that's what I pay them for.)
But if you do occasionally find yourself looking at a blank monitor or blank page, blood pressure rising, while you try to
put down that first sentence (which you keep erasing), 43 Folders offers a list of ways to hack your way out of writer's block:
... and many more. Check the site. (Beats staring at that flashing cursor on a blank word-processor window.)
[via 43 Folders]
I'm so freakin' tempted. The first computer I purchased, back in 1983, was a C=64, for two weeks' of my summer salary after my first year at Michigan Tech (not to mention the 12" monochrome (amber) CGA monitor and tape drive). The full system (which was, when I owned it the size of, like, three pro keyboards stacked on top of each other, without peripherals) has been replicated in the versions that QVC is selling as just a joystick, with direct TV connections, and 30 C=64 games.
Here's a shot of it to give you some scope, cribbed from FZ Wiki's history of computers:
I think the illustration actually has a disk drive, which Commodore released several years after I blew $100 on the tape drive.
Alissa Kozuh, formerly a part of the search team at Microsoft and now the editor of Nordstrom.com, talks about interpreting search engine logs in a Fast Company article. The key question in analyzing search engine logs is trying to figure out what people were looking for, and how to make sure they buy it:
The intentional fallacy may have declined in literary criticism several decades back, but it's resurfaced (with a big budget) in eCommerce.
Part of the answer is a robust search engine -- smart technology that makes it easy for customers to find what they're looking for. But an even bigger part of the answer involves human intervention -- smart people who can interpret customer inquiries and deduce what they really want.
That's Alissa Kozuh's job at Nordstrom.com. Kozuh, 28, who formerly worked on search-related projects for Microsoft, is now the editor of Nordstrom.com, where her most important role is to analyze the words that people put into the site's search engine every month. All 45,000 of them.
"People in the fashion industry can call a trend anything they want," Kozuh says.
"But what the customer decides to call it is ultimately what matters most to us." That's why Kozuh keeps a giant spreadsheet of the most-popular search entries on her computer and regularly adjusts the site's proprietary thesaurus so that people looking for "hobo bags" will see purses, not bandanas on a stick. "We're interested in what kinds of results people got," Kozuh says. "Were they relevant? Did they get the merchandise that best applies? That's the difference between bringing a human element into this process and leaving it to technology."
[via Tomalak's Realm]
The Virtual Museum of Canada, 150 virtual installations on Canadian history and culture.
One of the best book reports ever: How to Kill a Mockingbird. Long load time, but well worth it. The discussion of the pirate/Boo Radley riding his flaming shark was particularly perceptive.
I'm fascinated by low-fidelity photography (as evidenced by my recent Holga camera obsession, check these galleries from the annual Pinhole Photograpy Day); there's something unique about the retro nature of the whole construction--a light-proof box, pierced by a tiny hole, a sheet of photographic paper, and long exposures. Fundamentally flawed, which is a cool thing. But Abelardo's work takes it to a new level.
Way cool pix of Nunavut, the location in far Northeastern Canada which I told someone I wanted to move to today (after a discussion about the recent U.S. elections and the apparently unstoppable move to build a Super-Wal-Mart in our small, upstate NY town) (and the province where a gradeschool donated a really nice screenshot for my book on designing effective websites).
A searchable database of 50,000 comic book covers. 72 covers for Superman, 138 covers for Superman, and 23 covers of the Fantastic Four. Alas, only three of The Submariner.
[via Boing Boing]
A Heritage Foundation Article on whether or not New Mexico is part of the U.S.:
The author, the President of The Heritage Foundation, proceeds to blame all this on the contemporary education system. But it's much older than that; when I moved from New Mexico to Indiana in the early 1990s, I tried to cash one of my last New Mexico Tech paychecks at my bank, and the collected tellers balked because, "It doesn't say on the check that it's in U.S. funds"--and both tellers were in their late 40's. Or maybe Mr. Heritage thinks thinks things have been going to hell since, well, whenever he emerged from high school. (Bring back mandatory Latin instruction now!)
"I'm sorry, sir," the voice on the other line replied. "I can't sell tickets to someone outside the United States."
Yep -- you heard correctly. The sales office of the U.S. Olympic Committee didn't know that "New Mexico" isn't part of old Mexico. Though he tried, Mr. Miller could convince neither the operator -- nor her supervisor! -- that New Mexico is one of the 50 United States of America. The supervisor, getting on the line when Mr. Miller insisted, told him (you can just hear her tone), "Sir, new Mexico, old Mexico -- it doesn't matter. You still have to go through your country's Olympic Committee."
Nothing like a little nostalgia to ruin a funny story.
I figure if I can't have talent, at least I can have good tone.
does not include the luxury of cynicism. We don't have the opportunity to not act. We have to take action. And, therefore, we have to figure out how to do things better.Massive Change is an impressive and important project. As the back cover to the book of the same name says, "Massive Change is not about the world of design; it's about the design of the World" [amazon link].
Rouge, an online film theory journal.
eSecurityPlanet has an interview with Gary Thurek, the man who, in 1978, developed the marketing technique now known as spam.
Back in 1978, when the thing we now all think of as annoying, unsolicited, inbox-clogging email was just the canned, spongy sandwich meat, one man sent an email to 400 people, marketing his company's new product. With that one fateful move, email spam was born. Gary Thuerk, now in sales at computer giant Hewlett-Packard Co., sent out that original spam back when the Internet was called Arpanet, and researchers and the military were the only ones using it. As a marketing manager at the East Coast-based Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), Thuerk sent out the bulk email inviting West Coast techies to a demonstration of Dec's new Decsystem-20.Thurek was criticized for the move--because the proto-Internet was intended for research, not commercial use.
[via Lockergnome Bytes]
Dan Gillmor points to a newspaper piece by a librarian ranting about weblogs and wikis and generally about authority and publication. As Gillmor points out, the author mis-spells the names of both Gillmor and comedic writer Dave Berry, among other errors.What's the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress category for "clueless"?
[via Collin vs. Blog]
[via Cool Tools]
Finisterrae's Cronotopo, an 30-second for every 5 kilometre audio tour around Italy's coast.
The Cronotopos is defined by Mikhail Bakhtin (writer 1934\1985) "a time-space", that is a kind of interconnection, through that it is possible to describe, at the same time, an historical and imaginary time and space. PLEO and URKUMA choose to take as reference Murray Schaffer's soundscapes, recording 30 seconds of sound every 5 kilometers along Salento's coast (Italy), from T.Castiglione (Jonic coast) to Casalabate (Adriatic coast).
[via Notes from So]
Also via Metafilter, a pointer to Metaphilm's Re-visioning of Fight Club as another version of Calvin and Hobbes. Apparently this is a little dated, but I hadn't seen it yet.
Calvin has always idolized Hobbes. In Weirdos From Another Planet, he dresses up like a tiger and attempts to live in the woods. Like Hobbes, Tyler is cool, collected, and incredibly cerebral. Given this evidence, one can conclude that Tyler is Hobbes, reincarnated after being trapped inside Calvin/Jack’s brain for so many years. Just as Calvin is Jack, Hobbes is Tyler.
Gertrude Stein did us the most harm when she said, “You’re all a lost generation.” That got around to certain people and we all said, “Whee! We’re lost.” Perhaps it suddenly brought to us the sense of change. Or irresponsibility. But don’t forget that, though the people in the twenties seemed like flops, they weren’t. Fitzgerald, the rest of them, reckless as they were, drinkers as they were, they worked damn hard and all the time.
Once we start to view design as a form of communication between designer and the user, we see that perceived affordances become an important medium for that communication. Designed affordances play a very special role. Now we see that the designer deliberately places signs and signals on the artifact to communicate with the user. The metal tray made of wires clearly both affords support for solid objects but not for liquids. Hence, the very visibility of both the positive affordance (support) and the negative one (porosity, or perhaps leakiness) tell the user "put something here that fits this space, that requires support, and that you do not wish to be in a puddle of water." Given the limited number of items one usually takes to the bath or shower, given the size constraint of the basket, and given the strong negative affordance of leakiness, what else could be meant except for soap: so the wire support shouts out to the shower-taker, "put your soap here!"Norman also includes some thoughts on design as narrative, and narratives as stories in context. [via Tomalak's Realm]
The website "I Want One of Those" (UK) is selling the motion-sensor equipped Room Defender, an automated foam-projectile cubicle/room defense weapon.
In addition to "warning shot mode" (verbal warning plus a single shot), the nerf-missle weapon can be set for "ambush mode" (1/2 magazine) and "assault mode" (empty the breech).As one satisfied customer says on the feedback page,
Working in IT, there is an area in front of my desk now dubbed "the confessional" - now when people come to confess, they automatically get their penance dispensed :) Fantastic fun, and it also means I get support requests via e-mail instead of being disturbed :)[via some site that I didn't write down...]
Those who spend more than eight hours at a screen per session and who already need to wear glasses or contact lenses are a staggering 82% more likely to develop glaucoma than light PC users with good vision, according to the study by The Toho University School Of Medicine in Tokyo.Will treatment be covered by my worker's comp?
[via Boing Boing]
(I loaded the Wu-Tang page while I was importing The Anthology of American Folk Music, and I have to say that ODB's "Thirsty" mixes well with Dock Bogg's "Country Blues," as bizarre as that seems. No really.)
[via an unnamed source]
A Wired interview with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy on intellectual property, music, and the net.
What if there was a movement to shut down libraries because book publishers and authors were up in arms over the idea that people are reading books for free? It would send a message that books are only for the elite who can afford them.
Stop trying to treat music like it's a tennis shoe, something to be branded. If the music industry wants to save money, they should take a look at some of their six-figure executive expense accounts. All those lawsuits can't be cheap, either.
According to a Reuters report, rapper Russell Jones, aka Ol' Dirty Bastard/ODB, died suddenly today:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard, equally well known for his scrapes with the law and offbeat antics as for his work with rap collective Wu-Tang Clan, died suddenly in New York Saturday of unknown causes, his record label said. The rapper, whose real name was Russell Jones, was found in a recording studio complaining of chest pains, a source told Reuters. Paramedics were unable to save him. "The world has lost a great talent, but we mourn the loss of our friend," said a statement issued by Roc-A-Fella Records.
New Scientist has an interview with Benoit Mandelbrot.
Your latest book you take on the world of finance. What is so attractive about the stock market?
When you've chosen the kind of life I have chosen to live, you must not let opportunities pass by. I recently had the chance to work with Richard Hudson, former managing editor of the European edition of The Wall Street Journal, on a book on economics. The most important thing I have done is to combine something esoteric with a practical issue that affects many people. In this spirit, the stock market is one of the most attractive things imaginable. Stock-market data is abundant so I can check everything. Financial markets are very influential and I want to be part of this field now that it is maturing.
[via Boing Boing]
Oh well. I didn't really want to work at yet another place that offers free lunch.[via maps and legends]
Lt Jack Farley, a US Marines officer, sauntered over to compare notes with the Phantoms. "You guys get to do all the fun stuff," he said. "It's like a video game. We've taken small arms fire here all day. It just sounds like popcorn going off."I'm not going to comment on the politics of this; what I find striking is the frequency with which I hear soldiers connecting up the war in Iraq with videogames. (Last month, I heard a report, on NPR, I think, in which a soldier talked about how the war was a lot like Grand Theft Auto.) War, I guess, frequently works by metaphor, as average citizens suddenly find themselves thrust into situations where they're being demanded to do things they wouldn't normally do. Still, I find this disconcerting. If nothing else, that moment of disconcernment is useful in that it helps keep us aware of the bizarre new constructions of subjectivity required of participants.
Onward Tibet, one visitor's recollections of his travels in Tibet during 2004. Includes text, pictures, and audio clips.
This is too cool: Network Aurlization for Gnutella (N.A.G.). Filesharing as remixing. (And GNU-licensed to boot.)
N.A.G. (Network Auralization for Gnutella) is interactive software art for Mac OS X and Windows 2000/XP which turns the process of searching for and downloading MP3 files into a chaotic musical collage. Type in one or more search keywords, and N.A.G. looks for matches on the Gnutella peer-to-peer file sharing network. The software then downloads MP3 files which match the search keyword(s) and remixes these audio files in real time based on the structure of the Gnutella network itself.
[via web zen and an anonymous donor]
In addition to downloads of the software, the site includes screenshots, an artist's statement, and audio samples.
Creative Commons appears to be heading toward developing CC licenses for scientific research [CNET News link]. This is great news, but CC licenses will face an uphill (but needed) battle from (a) journals, and (b) the moribund tenure process, and (c) increasing corporate sponsorship of research, which often comes with extremely restrictive ties on intellectual property (my own Vice-Provost for Research, until recently, adamantly refused the notion of negotiating any IP rights with sponsoring companies, choosing to simply give all IP back to the corporate sponsor). I hope they do well--their worldview aligns well with what science has historically been about: the advancement of understanding based on the open sharing of research and knowledge.
In my usual random oscillation between binary opposites, after using a digital Canon PowerShot for a few months, I decided to head in the opposite direction and purchase a Holga camera from a guy downstate who runs Holgamods.
The Holga itself is basically an extremely poorly designed medium-format camera (everything is plastic, including the lens, with the exception of some cheap metal clamps that secure the camera back and are themselves famous for falling of mid-roll, exposing all your film in the process--note the duct tape I've wrapped around the sides to avoid this). The poor design is further degenerated during a manufacturing process in China that seems to have as its specific goal a complete randomization of quality control (although the top of the bell curve only rises from "broken" to "huh, that's weird" in any lot of cameras). As you might guess, this sort of damaged goods has made the Holga a favorite of the painfully cool, the retro-geeks, and freaks like myself. Randy at Holgamods purchases them in bulk for cheap (I assume--retail, they're only $20), does some minor flocking work to seal off extensive light leaks, installs a bulb exposure, removes a mask to convert the camera to 6x6 format, modifies the camera to give it a second f-stop (it has only one as manufactured), and performs various other minor tweaks, then resells them for a minor additional fee. (These mods actually double the price of the camera, but since the original camera is so cheap, that's not much of an increase.)
Yeah, it's basicallly a broken camera, at least in modern terms. Yeah, it's unpredictable. Yeah, developing medium-format film is relatively expensive (around $1 a print, once you include film). Yeah, there are lens flares and light leaks all over the place. That's not necessarily a bad thing.my Flickr site, or see an old Washington Post article about the camera (or just Google holga camera).
MediaLab Europe is working on an wireless, IM-aware flowerpot that holds a mechanical flower that blooms when a specific user logs into Instant Messenger.
Ted Pikul: That was beautiful. I feel just like me. Is that kind of transition normal? That kinda' ... smooth, interlacing from place to place?" Allegra Geller: "Well, it depends on the style of game. You can get jagged, brutal cuts, slow fades, shimmering little morphs." TP: [breathes out heavily] "This is amazing. I had no idea." AG :[laughs, looks around the arcade] "Look at this. Games I've never heard of." TP: "Wait a minute. That reminds me. What, precisely, is the goal of the game that we're playing now?" AG: "You have to play the game ... to find out why you're playing the game. The future, Pikul; you'll see how natural it feels."
10x10™ ('ten by ten') is an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time. The result is an often moving, sometimes shocking, occasionally frivolous, but always fitting snapshot of our world. Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time. Over the course of days, months, and years, 10x10 leaves a trail of these hourly statements which, stitched together side by side, form a continuous patchwork tapestry of human life.
It is in these claims about personal stuff encoded in the writer's art that the book's real defect lies. In fairness, it's just a pronounced case of a syndrome that seems common to literary biographies, so common that it might point to a design flaw in the whole enterprise. The big problem with ''Borges: A Life'' is that Williamson is an atrocious reader of Borges's work; his interpretations amount to a simplistic, dishonest kind of psychological criticism. You can see why this problem might be intrinsic to the genre. A biographer wants his story to be not only interesting but literarily valuable.** In order to ensure this, the bio has to make the writer's personal life and psychic travails seem vital to his work. The idea is that we can't correctly interpret a piece of verbal art unless we know the personal and/or psychological circumstances surrounding its creation. That this is simply assumed as an axiom by many biographers is one problem; another is that the approach works a lot better on some writers than on others. It works well on Kafka -- Borges's only modern equal as an allegorist, with whom he's often compared -- because Kafka's fictions are expressionist, projective, and personal; they make artistic sense only as manifestations of Kafka's psyche. But Borges's stories are very different.This is the first time I've seen footnotes in NYT, but the use of them is probably a standard rider on David Foster Wallace's contracts.**Actually, these two agendas dovetail, since the only reason anybody's interested in a writer's life is because of his literary importance. (Think about it -- the personal lives of most people who spend 14 hours a day sitting there alone, reading and writing, are not going to be thrill rides to hear about.)
Text Rain, an interactive environment by Camille Utterback & Romy Achituv.
Text Rain is an interactive installation in which participants use the familiar instrument of their bodies, to do what seems magical—to lift and play with falling letters that do not really exist. In the Text Rain installation participants stand or move in front of a large projection screen. On the screen they see a mirrored video projection of themselves in black and white, combined with a color animation of falling letters. Like rain or snow, the letters appears to land on participants' heads and arms. The letters respond to the participants' motions and can be caught, lifted, and then let fall again. The falling text will 'land' on anything darker than a certain threshold, and 'fall' whenever that obstacle is removed. If a participant accumulates enough letters along their outstretched arms, or along the silhouette of any dark object, they can sometimes catch an entire word, or even a phrase. The falling letters are not random, but form lines of a poem about bodies and language. 'Reading' the phrases in the Text Rain installation becomes a physical as well as a cerebral endeavor.
The site includes QuickTime demos.
"What In The World," Los Lobos [Good Morning Aztlan]
"Truckload Of Art," Cracker [Countrysides]
"Black Girls," Violent Femmes [Film Noire (Live in Europe)]
"White Line," Neil Young & Crazy Horse [Ragged Glory]
"Life Is Grand," Camper Van Beethoven [Cigarettes & Carrot Juice - The Santa Cruz Years]
"She's a Jar." Wilco [Live in Germany (7.9.99)]
"kids are ugly," Cracker [kids are ugly]
"Transition," Kristen Miller [Later That Day]
"My Morphine," Gillian Welch & David Rawlings [Strawberry Music Festival 8-30-97]
"I'm A Steady Rollin' Man," Robert Johnson [The Complete Recordings 2]
"Born At The Right Time," Paul Simon [Concert In The Park (Disc 1)]
"Miner's Refrain," Gillian Welch [Hell Among the Yearlings]
"No Love Today," Chris Smither [Drive You Home Again]
"Feedback Jam," Neil Young & Crazy Horse [Live at Bonnaroo (6.13.03)]
"I'm Satisfied," John Hiatt [Avalon Blues - A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt]
"Bag of Weed (Jimmy Wilson Group 6/30/01)," Ween [Live In Burlington 10.31.03]
From Thoughts, Arguments, and Rants, "Philosophy in Questionable Taste" provides a huge list of break-up lines from various schools of philosophy. Here's a small selection (with contributors named in parentheses)
The Relativist: It’s no one’s fault. (P.K.)
The Atheist: These things just happen. (P.K.)
The Kantian: You lied to me! (P.K.)
The Consequentialist, v 2.0: You should have lied to my mother about her pot roast! (P.K.)
The anti-Fictionalist: I’m sick of faking it. (P.K.)
The Cartesian: I don’t clearly and distinctly perceive a future together. (Kathryn Schubert)
The Hegelian: Do we have to go through this again? (Kathryn Schubert)
The Lockean: Our primary qualities simply aren’t compatible. (Kathryn Schubert)
The Lockean, v. 2.0: Compared to my last partner, I’m not getting nearly enough, nor as good. (P.K.)
TA&R links to a related list of causes of death from different philosophical schools that's funny as well. Or at least as funny as philosophy can get--the question is still being hotly debated) [rimshot].
[via Boing Boing]
Although several studies have shown that pets can be part of useful therapy program for sick people, Georgetown University researchers have an interesting spin on the idea: they've been giving robot cats to patients.
The robot is programmed to respond in the same way a typical feline would, becoming angry or happy when hit or stroked. It is also sophisticated enough to learn and respond to its own name, and has the same biological rhythms as a cat. Although the pseudo-pussycat is unable to walk, its legs and tail can still move and it can make forty-eight different catlike noises.
They're finding that patients respond in much the same way they do to real pets (and better than with simple stuffed animals). One of the real benefits appears to be for patients with mental conditions that might make it difficult for them to care for a real pet (some patients in the study, for example, suffer from dementia, making the use of real animals problematic). The researchers also think the robot pets could be augmented to do things like remind people to take medications at specified times.
Experiment with audio loops at looptracks.com:
(I probably don't need to warn you that the site is (a) Flash, and (b) starts an audio loop as soon as you get to the site.)
[via Web Zen]
Here's why the old-fashioned, Big Red Lever voting system (which I mentioned below) makes me feel safer:
[stealing the image off boing-boing's faster servers... my traffic is low, so I hope this isn't an issue.]
Want to know what this image is? It's a picture I took with my cellphone-camera of an electronic voting machine screen. I took it today when I went down to vote for the next President of the Unites States in Santa Clara California. The screen says "Vote Save Error #9. Use the Backup Voting Procedure." A news crew was on hand to film Californians using the voting machines. I pointed to this particular screen and said "There's your story - right there. I just took a picture of the screen and plan to share it with 6.4 billion of my closest friends on the Internet tonight. I suggest you do the same." To my astonishment, the cameraman did shoot some footage of the screen, though I don't know what was shown later on television.
[via Boing Boing]
Mark Frauenfelder at Boing-boing has an interview with influential cyberculture figure RU Sirius on his new book, Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House:
In defense of our approach, I would say only that ours can include the modern primitives, and also include Zen, Sufism, The Troubadours, western anarchism, cyberpunk, punk rock, cubism, Voltaire, ad infinitum. Whereas a modern primitive approach would be just that. And I think it’s been written in different ways by Terence McKenna, by Riane Eisler, and by Feinberg. It’s all good. Let a thousand histories of counterculture bloom!
[via Boing Boing]
This is where I voted this morning.
Having voted in somewhat larger cities previously, I have to say I really appreciate living in rural towns. If nothing else, I didn't have to worry about whether or not the touch-screen, Diebold systems were going to be hacked: I got to use an older, big-lever-pull voting machine.
If you're a Sims player you can download this "Dumboold" electronic voting machine, which has almost as many flaws as the real thing from our malfeasant friends at Diebold!
Features include hidden options like "Vote or Die":
P. Diddy, lately a.k.a. Citizen Combs, says: "'You all are the X-factor, the wild card," Combs said. "`History is being made here. Our revolution has begun." "Young voters in this country are throwing away their power to have a say about education, healthcare, and any issue that affects them." Combs explains. "These things affect your life, so - Vote or Die!" (If you select Vote, you live. If you select Die, you either get electrocuted, or burst into flames, then you die.)
[via Boing Boing]
4 rolls of duct tape, and 12 hours later, and Clunky Robot has a duct-tape messenger bag.
A guy in the UK has developed what's more or less a "remix jar," which he calls an audio shaker:
The audio shaker explores our perceptual understanding of sound. Anything sung, spoken, clapped, whistled or played near it is trapped inside, where it takes on an imagined yet tangible physicality. Sounds caught in this void are transformed, given weight and permanance, reacting directly to the shaker's movements, subtle or violent. Shaken sounds have to settle down before becoming still and silent, behaving more like fluid than transient energy.
The linear timescale of sound is broken, a conversation is split into words and mixed up in the shaker, and can be poured out separately, tipped out in a simultaneous spalsh or added to and shaken up further.
Put simply, it is a tactile container to capture, shake up and pour out sounds. Creating a rich, intuitive experience that is purposefully open to interpretation and imagination.
For those interested in product design, the site also includes video of the audio shaker in use, animated storyboards, and some interesting notes about product-design decisions ("When you shake the cup does the sound splash out?... and what could trap the sound in?").