via gawker, a selection of NY's best and brightest's holiday cards. Look, there's Paris. And the Graydon Carter children. And a pathetic little dog. And honestly, I'd never even heard of the NewYorkSocialDiary. But, you know, it makes sense.
"NTT DoCoMo that combines the mobile Internet with smart card technology called "FeliCa cards." The new mobile phone service developed by Sony Corp. starts on a trial basis in Japan from Dec. 17, enabling cell phones embedded with the computer chip work as concert tickets, identification cards and electronic wallets.
In one service, users download a concert or movie ticket from a mobile Net site, paying with a credit card. The user brings the mobile phone to the theater for quick prepaid entry."
“Dear Mike -- I’m writing this without knowing if it’ll ever get to you…I’m writing it from the trenches of a war (that’s still going on,) not knowing why I’m here or when I’m leaving. I’ve toppled statues and vandalized portraits, while wearing an American flag on my sleeve, and struggling to learn how to understand… I joined the army as soon as I was eligible – turned down a writing scholarship to a state university, eager to serve my country, ready to die for the ideals I fell in love with. Two years later I found myself moments away from a landing onto a pitch black airstrip, ready to charge into a country I didn't believe I belonged in, with your words (from the Oscars) repeating in my head. My time in Iraq has always involved finding things to convince myself that I can be proud of my actions; that I was a part of something just. But no matter what pro-war argument I came up with, I pictured my smirking commander-in-chief, thinking he was fooling a nation…"
You know that part of your brain that stores all the wrong things, like the image of the homeless guy flossing his teeth on the subway, the part that doesn't let you ever forget that, but prevents you from remembering your girlfriend's birthday?
That part of your brain has a google-indexed URL.
From the united states of Taschen.
(via Spitting Image)
Watching Shenzhen China from a landsat geosynchronous satellite, the eight years between 1988 and 1996 go by in 10 indelible seconds. It's a lot like playing Civilization III, except that in Civ3, China often loses.
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I've been thinking about Tim Etchells for a while, trying to figure out how to explain his brilliance in a blog-compatible compression format. Etchells is the central figure of Forced Entertainment, a UK-based group of artists "producing new works in theatre and performance as well as projects in digital media, video and installation."
That's pretty generic, which I think has more to do with modesty than any lack of innovation. I write this without ever having seen any of their theatre pieces. But they are so important to so many people in, e.g., Berlin, that I could tell you everything that happens in half of them without even knowing what they look like.
I've been reading two books by Etchells, though. Certain Fragments is an anthology of Etchells' writings, which I like a lot because it gets very personal and very not, and there's a lot to be said for making sure both these things happen. Then The Dream Dictionary: For the Modern Dreamer is described by The Guardian as "dadaist," but I think it's far more calculated than that, and I mean this as a compliment. I still haven't figured out how to describe its beauty, and I don't have it in front of me, but it's a series of dream topics (e.g., "a dream of the former soviet union," "a dream of a change in housing benefits regulation") and what it means to dream them. It's something about the fragments that happen when some rigorous system of meaning collides with not only the chaos of our dreams, but with the chaos of our everyday newpaper-printed world. Something about lending an intimacy to the former soviet union. Something about Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
There's plenty more: "Surrender Control" was a piece Etchells did with SMS messages, sending out instructions via SMS to subscribers, "somewhere between a game and a set of dares." From an interview about it:
...the texts become more
and more insistent, stranger, more intrusive and at certain times more
frequent or at anti-social times of the day. I tried to make it develop
whilst at the same time avoiding any sense of it starting to cohere
around a single narrative idea. It's something I say or think about a
lot of my work in a lot of media - I don't want it to collapse into a
narrative, I want it to stay in that state of suspension where
narratives are possible, but not confirmed. In this way I'd say I am
interested in juggling the elements of story, but not really in telling
them! Of course this also connects very well to the context of SMS - as
a writer I can't control the context of receiving, so however much one
wants to 'control' the meaning of what one writes/sends it is always
changed/reinvented/reassembled at the other end. I embrace this.
Beyond that, there's his work with The Institute of Failure, "a think tank dedicated to the documentation, study, and theorisation of failure in all aspects of human endeavor." Etchells' Maintenance of Daily Life is a subsection, "a collection of failure, breakdown and maintenance related memoranda gathered from diverse sources." (see "Subject: Level Three Toilets")
The Institute of Failure really deserves an entry all its own, if for no other reason than to distinguish it from an old love of mine, Failure Analysis Associates, which seems to now be part of Exponent. Both institutions, steadfast and deadpan about what's tiny and what's catastrophic and the likelihood that those are the same things.
I'd like all this to be a lot more articulate, but I feel the need to bring it up right now because Etchells is not well known here, and because there are ten performances of "Instructions for Forgetting" at PS 122, and there's tickets, and there's time.
Nice interview on apple.com with Walter Murch, the most extraordinary artist you've never heard of, unless you've already read The Conversations. From the apple.com interview, I like this passage in particular, though it has little to do with Murch:
"I remember Al Pacino saying that what guided his performance of Michael in 'The Godfather' was the idea of an imaginary spotlight always trying to find him, and that he was always trying to evade it."
Funny, painful CL rant/post: Tiparoonie for any guys who want to get laid in the 21st century
"This is the hard drive," Simmons said. "This is an interrogator's dream. It's very rare that we ever get the hard drive. We get the floppy disks. And we have to piece them together and find out what's going on.
"One thing that we won't do with Saddam Hussein, I can assure you, is we will not take a sledgehammer to the hard drive."
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Some are disappointed that video games aren't more like real life. Others fear that real life echoes game life, half life, second life.
And part of it is really about what we omit. If you can make anything with polygons, what exactly wouldn't you make, and why not? In Germany, for example, it's illegal to show blood in videogames, so for the most part, players just drop where they're shot, like a heart attack, or a stutter narcoleptic.
There is debate, even, about whether the Sims really should have including the shitting and pissing. Whether putting that in the game, or whether blurring it out, were concessions, and in which directions.
But not this Russian guy, about whom I can tell you very little. Since I have no ability to understand what he's writing, I just imagine him as a kind of fetish detective, walking through virtual worlds taking photographs of every toilet he sees. If the quantity of snaps is any indication, this is a man who takes this rather seriously.
tales from the F train, installment 89: coming into town this morning, the woman sitting next to me pulls a nail clipper out, and begins to work on her nails. Not acceptable behavior in my book, but hey, it's New York. Two minutes later, a clipped nail springs from her finger, flies through the air, and hits me in the middle of the forehead.
We may not know what's in our hamburgers, and we may not know who the fuck is really running this country, and these are the kinds of low-level static anxieties that make us feel tired all the time. But finally, at least with the DVDs we're renting, there'll be no more unpleasant surprises.
So, Steve Albini, what's the problem with music?
>Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end, holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed.
Nobody can see what's printed on the contract. It's too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody's eyes water...
I was feeling totally left out of the holiday happiness and mirth until I found this, which I can't quite tear myself away from.
(turn your sound on.)
I don't follow the spam/antispam news closely, and so I'm sure this tactic has been chronicled elsewhere. But what does interest me is the blunt way language has become a tool, in this case -- this case being the first few lines, reproduced below, from a "Stick plaster & grow small pe.nis" email I just received -- using rare words to skew the vocab-counting anti-spam-bots. Just that sentence, you know, just that sentence makes me happy. If you dont like this spam you dont like poetry, see?
inactivity undocked justly hotplate lucan plaudite ayrshire grenadine thebe sounding ripe trusty afterdamp lowbred plain ableness dalbergia acromicria covers paella betsie , ostinato colophony honest barbasco unveiling expressing allfours reactance boatbill leasing cornopean loup remiform xanthous luger dents wellmade monoecious guayule sike resilience fixed nehru topiary spoliation weka lily epigraphy bran . dalea directive qualifying stationary clocking bimodal harass airflow origanum inertness lament aglitter agapornis colorist parcity dieback grime silvervine crick showcase callirhoe doeuvre bantling bilander bullshit overvalue miscreated pitched figurine defilade
I've been re-reading Douglas Rushkoff's book Coercion recently, and I had forgotten how insightful he is regarding the persuasion industries. Rushkoff gets at the larger social and psychological effects of a culture built on coercion, rather than simply outlining the tactics and their tactical effects. In his intro, he points out that most methods of coercion are built on existing and healthy social behaviors, which is why they are effective in the first place. The damage is not simply that those social behaviors are misused or misrepresented, but rather that the original meanings of those behaviors are negated. Take a specific example, marketing with "free gifts," in relationship to the social rapport of gift-giving that it supplants:
"Enclosing a free gift in a solicitation for donations is meant to capitalize on this evolved set of behaviors. The technique has become so overused by now that it barely works... Most of us won't be swayed enough by the offering to open our checkbooks. We just resent it... This resentment actually erodes the community spirit on which the manipulative technique is based. A stranger who gives us something must want something in return. We are reluctant to perform acts of goodwill ourselves lest we provoke paranoia in the recipients."
I bring it up partly because I'm re-reading it, and partly because of Cory Doctorow's entry on Warren Ellis' blog, which intersects some of these same points with different lines:
"The last twenty years were about technology. The next twenty years are about policy... using our technology to affirm, deny and rewrite our social contracts... On that note: I have a special request to the toolmakers of 2004: stop making tools that magnify and multiply awkward social situations ('A total stranger asserts that he is your friend: click here to tell a reassuring lie; click here to break his heart!') ('Someone you don't know very well has invited you to a party: click here to advertise whether or not you'll be there!') ('A 'friend' has exposed your location, down to the meter, on a map of people in his social network, using this keen new location-description protocol -- on the same day that you announced that you were leaving town for a week!'). I don't need more 'tools' like that, thank you very much."
What both Rushkoff and Doctorow are getting at is a kind of social hypertrophy, the way things break by overstimulation rather than neglect. Rushkoff addresses this as regards coercive technique, the act of putting social behaviors into overdrive because we want to get them to do something else. In Doctorow's entry, it's more about putting them into overdrive more or less simply because we can. Never bet against technology and like that.
Either way, we're breaking the things we're using, important things like affection. Many years ago when my dad died, I used to wear his tailored shirts to feel close to him. It only took a month to stain them, stretch them, rip them, and otherwise strip the dad from the fabric. There was a small tragedy in that, but what was the alternative? In the end: adapt and die.
Given the fact that I deny the fence, rather than just straddle it, it's predictable that I had mixed feelings about the Snapple - NYC Department of Education deal. It means more than 40 million dollars for New York's schools, which sure wasn't forthcoming from, say, the United States Federal Government. But what I actually liked about the deal was that the money had to be used for school athletic equipment, and that the drinks for sale were vitamin-enriched and with no sugars added. I actually like the idea that the easiest thing for high-school kids to drink is no-sugar vitamin drinks.
But all of that is negated in the way that real-world physics negate any ideology or theory. Because of course -- despite healthy revenues -- none of the subsidies have actually made their way to the schools. The fact that the schools were counting on the money is the insult. But the injuries are that, "... to replace that money, the girls' basketball team has been selling hot dogs... [and] the cheerleading squad has taken to selling brownies."
So now we're selling hot dogs to replace the lost revenue against vitamin drinks. Ubi dubium ibi libertas, but still, I'd sacrifice a little libertas for a little less dubium, where the school system is concerned.
How can you take 1,000 pictures of yourself within a span of 3 weeks and never smile? [warning: 1000 images on a single page]
Friends and foes of mortality will want to check out the Times's story about Tremain Billings, 91, who chronicles the comings, goings, and in-betweens of Princeton Class of '33.
"This is from Oct. 9, 2002:
Maddy Haythe has had a tough time. The week after Christmas, he fell and broke seven ribs. After returning home, he fell and broke his glasses, puncturing his right eye and losing sight in that eye. He says, "I'm fine otherwise." Henry Thompson writes, "feeble but still extant!""
Bill Murray fans rejoice -- come June 2004, you can here him doing the lead voice in Garfield: The Movie.
US computing giant IBM is working with British start-up company Metronomy to supply a free IBM PC, which would otherwise retail for around £800, to every household in Britain.
via carrie / stay free, who notes, "This reminds me of the NYC Board of Ed's plan to give every 4th grader in the ciy a laptop and fund it with advertising -- a plan that bombed after they figured out advertising wouldn't cover the cost. I suppose IBM sees this as a way to capitalize on the migration of eyeballs from TV screens to computer monitors."
Many, including me, wonder what the exact difference is between history and memory. Looking at Yahoo's most popular photos, two days after the end of the highest-bounty manhunt in human history, I'm getting clearer on this point.
A while back, maybe here, maybe in person, Kevin was talking about the "birthday problem" -- the chances that someone in the room has the same birthdate. Brad DeLong has included that problem among the 24-item-long list of One Hundred Interesting Math Calculations.
why did i ever think it would end with the george w. bush top gun action figure? now i can get all my favorite conservatives with a kung fu grip: ann, rummy, bush the elder. and slick willy as the punching bag.
japan's first apple store opened 2 weeks ago. i think the guy at the end of the line is just getting into the store now. (note: the movie takes a while to download.)
Okay, yay, we got him. But personally, I'm disheartened for the 2004 elections since Bush looks pretty unbeatable now. What's the Democratic campaign strategy now?
This kind of goes back to the earlier thread about technology and memory, since the idea of recording every waking moment of one's life is predicated on some kind of always-on recording device: there appears to be a growing backlash against the stealth-nature of phonecams (Hungary, which moved to ban the taking of unauthorized photos and South Korea, which recently decreed that all camera phones must emit a beep of at least 65 decibels when taking a photo). So does this mean all videocams (when they reach an inconspicuous size) have to make that oh-so-nostalgic movie projector noise?
In the narrow and closing gap between flesh and doll, the domains of Sabrinow and all the other creatures down inside the rabbit hole, there are hybrids and jumpers and halfbreeds. Not all of them require explanation or comment.
In what must be a case of holiday kindness, Microsoft said it would remove swastikas from a font in the latest version of Office.
As pornography lifts itself out of the basement (or breaks the house down around it) two new blogs tie porn and the rest of the world into a relatively tight knot.
About a month ago, Metafilter posted a link to a series of pictures shot by a US soldier in Iraq.
I rummaged through them, most of which were as banal as you would imagine them to be. I pulled one or two onto my drive, because of that Collier Brothers impulse to own what you see.
There was one anomaly in an otherwise predictable set of images, and that was this poster that someone had photoshopped to send a message to Hollywood, (which spends a lot of time listening to the Army, after all.) It looks like one of the MeFites found it interesting as well, because he linked directly to it. If you follow that link, though, you'll notice it's bad, as are most all the ones that MeFi linked to, even though the site is still up. The images have been trimmed down quite a lot, and the reasons for that can be as prosaic or perverse as you care to imagine.
I grabbed the poster-image because it triggered some half-memories that just got completed today. It's obvious that the shutthefuckup poster is a remix of an old World War II poster, but it was only today that I remembered that it's actually a sampled extended remix, layered on layers.
This off the "Propaganda Remix Project," which I came across maybe a year earlier. Ain't neither side more clever than the other on this one, or any more clever than, say, sports mascot hijinks. But what's interesting to me about this is what's interesting to me about all this, which is the open source nature of everything, including propaganda.
We remix the remixes, I know it's old news, but there's a different kind of pleasure in imagining that taking place on a laptop just outside Baghdad.
what I like best about Wolfowitz's ballsy memo is the infalible logic of item four:
4. It is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States to limit competition for the prime contracts of these procurements to companies from the United States, Iraq, Coalition partners and force contributing nations. Thus, it is clearly in the public interest to limit prime contracts to companies from these countries.
which could just as easily read:
4. It is clearly in the public interest to limit prime contracts to companies from the United States, Iraq, Coalition partners and force contributing nations. Thus, it is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States to limit competition for the prime contracts of these procurements to companies from these countries.
By now I believe that everyone knows the story of Germany's cannibal Armin Meiwes, back in the news because his trial has begun.
But in certain digital corners -- Google's, specifically -- Meiwes never left the spotlight, because all those corners are lit just the same. Specifically, the Google cache of his original usenet posts feel like some malevolent creature locked in amber, like some virus frozen in ice. The headers are german, but they're in English, since his posts are more in the language of commerce than e.g., romance.
It was keeping me awake, thinking, wait, if the Simple Life's Nicole Richie is Lionel Richie's daughter, wouldn't that mean that there's a black woman working some hillbilly's farm?
Looking for that special someplace to host a bar mitzvah, wedding, roast, or briss? Less than 15 minutes away from Disneyland, the Nixon Library is "perfect for clients who are looking for an extraordinary location and a historic evening."
Anna notes that it could even be a candlelit dinner for two, or alternately, the Saturation Christmas party. RSVP.
recursive post #2: we are now the #2 result for googling saturation. We try harder.
Hungry elephants have gone on the rampage in eastern Thailand, ransacking villagers' plantations and forcing sugarcane trucks to stop so they can raid their goods.
To get your own 25th anniversary Space Invaders video game stand-up console. I don't know what that works out to per alien, but since they are in theoretically endless supply, it seems like a good deal.
Off Midnight Society (and via consumptive) --
>A strange sight out of the middle of suburbia are the large blocks On Mystic Island in Little Egg Harbor Township, NJ. These very large and strange concrete blocks can be found in the middle of the roadways off of Radio Road and were once the base for a large radio tower called the "Tuckerton Tower". They measure 20 feet high and sink in 20 feet below the surface and were the foundations for the 820 feet high radio tower which was used during World War I by the Germans. There are also several smaller blocks around the island that were used to support the massive tower.
>The tower was built in 1912 by the German government to communicate with an identical tower on the other side of the Atlantic in Germany. The tower was also used to communicate with Germany's submarines and ships at sea and it was though that the orders to sink the ocean liner "Lusitania" during WW1 was delivered from the Tuckerton Tower right here in New Jersey. When America entered the war in 1917, the United States military immediately took over the tower and used it till the end of the war. Later RCA operated it until World War II when the military took over again. On December 28, 1955, the tower was torn down and cut up for scrap. Why these blocks are left behind is really a mystery since there are real no apparent historical plaques. The blocks just seem to collect graffiti and become areas for people to park these boats next to.
In case anyone's still following the Niger forgeries case, which also leads to the Plame case: Josh Marshall drops this hint in talking about this week's stories on Manucher Ghorbanifar (one in the Times, one in the Sun): "make a note for future reference about where that first meeting took place." Which leads me to make a note of this line in the Times story: "The secret meetings were first held in Rome in December 2001, and were brokered by Michael Ledeen, a conservative analyst at the American Enterprise Institute who has an interest in Iranian affairs and close ties to many hard-line conservatives in the administration." Do I need to remind you where the forgeries appeared?
I've been waiting for the day when political discourse begins to sound like real speech, and I am happy now. Maybe it was inevitable after Bulworth. John Kerry, in Rolling Stone: "Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did." More like that.
With vanity always in fashion and shoes reaching iconic cultural status, women are having parts of their toes lopped off to fit into the latest Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.
from a Reuters report about an american peace activist trying to visit her daughter, who is serving in Iraq:
When a group of U.S.-trained Iraqi policemen showed up, American soldiers loaded their weapons.
"The Americans asked us to come here to stop the demonstration," said Iraqi policeman Mohanan Taha.
Asked if protests were illegal in the new Iraq, he told reporters: "There are no human rights under the Americans. Nothing. It is all empty talk."
"We miss the days of Saddam," said Iraqi policeman Mohammed Shawki.
the national secuirty archive has posted a 7-page memo (and other documents) detailing Kissinger's contacts with the Argentines in 1976. No, wait, they're memcons, not memos: "We won't cause you unnecessary difficulties. If you can finish before Congress gets back, the better."
Well, for a while I've been trying to figure just how to write about the artist Sam Easterson. Some people have heard of him, others not, but now it's MeFi'd so fuck it.
When Sam was at Cooper Union, he lived with my friend Matt, and I remember being taken in to see his bedroom, which was a loft bed and almost nothing else. Matt: "See? The rest of the apartment? It's total chaos? And then you come in here to Sam's bedroom, and look... it's just this bed, a clock, and these weird marks on the walls."
During and since then, Sam went on to do some of the greatest videos I ever and never saw. It started, far as I'm concerned, with the video he produced by putting his camcorder in the running clothes dryer. Maybe earlier. It was simple enough to be brilliant, and complex enough to be dumb. Later, there was Blowout, in the Whitney Biennial, which was something like what a hot-air popcorn machine would say if it could speak.
Since then, the simple has gotten much more complex, and also more simple. Sam evidently got his hands on some small and durable cameras at some point, and also got his hands on some animals. Here's a sheep, for example.
From Creative Capital: "Easterson's technology enables a cow, a pig, a goat, a chicken, a sheep, and a horse to guide us around their world; what they look at, what catches their attention, how they move through space, and how they relate to one another, on the farm."
During the years of making art and during the years of not, no question was ever less interesting than what was or was not art. I learned for myself however, that my main criterion was whether I saw the world any differently, before and after seeing someone's work. In that Sam's work does nothing less than providing us with eyes that we do not otherwise have, I think it's extraordinary for doing that.
There's a great deal more to say about it, but the simple link to his lifelong project Animal, Vegetable, Video on Mefi may not really do the work any justice. It's the opposite of simulation, somehow, to just duct tape a camera onto a frog, to see how the world works. To see the world so slow, to see the trees fly by that quickly, to feel the ground that low, they feel like memories, sometimes, but not memories we have yet.
SATURATION.ORG cracks open a fortune cookie.
OK, so, you're wearing a mask of an abstracted teenage girl, and you're suffocating yourself.
Hmmmm... that's something to think about.
from Diane Arbus's autopsy report: "Extremeties: Apart from the cuts on both wrists, the extremeties are not remarkable."
It's no news if it's on Metafilter, but just so I remember that it interests me (and may interest you) the n01se book and exhibition in England is a pretty good overview of all the thoughts around separating signal and noise, since they are often found in proximity to each other. These include pattern recognition, universal language, like that.
There's been a lot of chatter and backchatter about the disturbing creep of Sabrina.jp and the other androgynes dressing up as full scale dolls and anime. It's something about the threshold where humans blur into representations thereof, something about the quirky and troubling quality of mouths that never move. Slippery slope &c.
And so it is with all posts that this then is about Paris Hilton, if for no one's sake but Google's. It's just that the speed of the transformation here was so quick, the accelerated reverse gear from human into doll.
To be clear, that's if you presume that she was never Idoru from the very beginning. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is synthetic polymer resin.
Saturation.org...we post the photos that MeFi pointed to but wouldn't touch.
I find the idea of a British scientist using the word "cool" uproarious. But said British scientist also provides a fair critique of the cartographer's method, saying "He apparently maps outward from one point, which means the map is incomplete since by definition you can't see routes that don't go to you."