29 November 2005

A pray for today

The young Dublin partnership Bates Maher has created a series of of timber hermitages, known as poustiniae. Commissioned, at a budget of €500,000, by the architecturally enlightened Father Pierce of the Rosminian Order, to provide serene spaces for those not keen on the more communal experience available at the Order's main house, Glencomeragh, which is close by.

scanned article from Wallpaper*

Hauntings, design of non-visual architecture

Haunt is a project using humidity, temperatures and electromagnetic and sonic frequencies that parapsychologists have associated with haunted spaces, this project aims at building an environment that feels "haunted": a non-visual architecture. […]

The objective of the experiment was to determine whether infrasonic frequencies and magnetic field fluctuations similar to those found in supposedly "haunted" spaces can elicit physiological or psychological effects similar to those experienced in "hauntings". During participation galvanic skin response of the participants was measured and they were required to note down any unusual phenomena they experienced, marking where these occured on a map of the room, and at what time. Each session lasted approximately 50 minutes. Participants were randomly placed in one of 4 groups though they were not informed of their group until the end of the experiment: those subjected to infrasound, those subjected to magnetic fields, those subjected to both and those subjected to neither.

Responses from participants included a "sense of presence", "chills on the spine", "uneasiness in a particular part of the room", "dizziness", "glowing ball" hallucinations, seeing flies in the chamber, auditory hallucination of somebody coughing in various parts of the chamber and sensations of mist; though it is not clear yet what the causal relationship is since some of these sensations were reported in the chamber when neither the infrasonic nor the magnetic field equipment was switched on. Statistics are currently being carried out on the data and will not be fully known until the end of November 2005. As expected, it appears that belief plays an important role in eliciting "haunt" sensations.


Scared Sacred

In a world teetering on the edge of self-destruction, award-winning filmmaker Velcrow Ripper sets out on a unique pilgrimage. Visiting the 'Ground Zeros' of the planet, he asks if it's possible to find hope in the darkest moments of human history.

Ripper travels to the minefields of Cambodia; war-torn Afghanistan; the toxic wasteland of Bhopal; post-9/11 New York; Bosnia; Hiroshima; Israel and Palestine. This powerful documentary captures his five-year odyssey to discover if humanity can transform the 'scared' into the 'sacred'.

Deep in the jungles of Cambodia, Ripper meets Aki Ra, a child soldier forced to lay landmines for the Khmer Rouge. Today Aki wanders his ravaged country with a simple wooden stick, decommissioning thousands of mines each year. In the shattered land of Afghanistan, Ripper searches for a Sufi musician who was banned from performing or even listening to music, by the reign of fundamentalism. The musician discovered a way out: he filled his house with songbirds. In each Ground Zero, he unearths unforgettable stories of survival, of ritual, resilience and recovery.

Scared Sacred deftly weaves together stunning footage with haunting memories, inspirational stories, and an evocative soundscape. Featuring an engaging, first-person narrative, this film is an exquisite portrait of a search for meaning in times of turmoil, a luminous gift to a world in shadows.


For anyone living in Edmonton, there will be a screening at 19:00 this Friday, 2 December 2005, in the Centennial Room at the Stanley A. Milner Library. Call the National Film Board for more information, (780) 434-9236, or for purchasing information.

Please check here for screenings across Canada, as well as Reykjavík and New Orleans.

Aerial signposts point to Scientology’s sacred text storage facility

via Boing Boing
There are symbols in northern New Mexico that mark a Church of Scientology vault built in a mountainside. The facility contains founder L. Ron Hubbard's writings etched into stainless steel tablets that are stored in titanium capsules. The Church of Scientology apparently asked Albuquerque TV station KRQE not to air its report last week about the markings in the desert. From the Washington Post:
The church offered a tour of the underground facility if KRQE would kill the piece, the station said in its newscast. Scientology also called KRQE's owner, Emmis Communications, and "sought the help of a powerful New Mexican lawmaker" to lobby against airing the piece, the station reported on its Web site...

What do the markings mean? For starters, the interlocking circles and diamonds match the logo of the Church of Spiritual Technology, which had the vault constructed in a mesa in the late 1980s. The $2.5 million construction job was done by Denman and Associates of Santa Fe, but company Vice President Sally Butler said of the circles, "If there is anything like that out there, it had nothing to do with us."

Perhaps the signs are just a proud expression of the Scientology brand. But there are other, more intriguing theories.

Former Scientologists familiar with Hubbard's teachings on reincarnation say the symbol marks a "return point" so loyal staff members know where they can find the founder's works when they travel here in the future from other places in the universe.

Link to Washington Post article, Link to .wmv of a KRQE follow-up story

UPDATE — BB reader Tim Pozar points us to the Google Satellite Maps image of the symbols. Link

UPDATE — And from Matt Pierce, a link to an even more striking image from Terraserver. Link

The Family Circus meets Cthulhu

via Boing Boing
Joey Devilla found a trove of Family Circus cartoons mashed up with captions from HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. Link

28 November 2005

America, Canada’s news gift to you

I figure it's the least we can do, since we get a some American people passing by this humble blog. Anyone coming here living abroad may interested to take a quick look at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's news show, The Hour, which broadcasts on CBC Newsworld. I know not everyone down in the U.S. watches that funny nut, Bill O'Reilly, but we're familiar enough with American media up here that I think it might be really refreshing for any Americans (or anywhere, for that matter) to take a look at news in a wholly different fashion.

The Hour's Video Archive

Please, take a few minutes and check out The Hour, which supports both QuickTime and Windows Media Player. From Chuck Palahniuk to assisted suicide to marijuana laws. We even take the wee occasional look at the United States.

A Shocking Look Inside Chinese Fur Farms

This has little to do with occultism or design, but I don't particularly keep the most stringent focus on this site.

The globalization of the fur trade has made it impossible to know where fur products come from. Skins move through international auction houses and are purchased and distributed to manufacturers around the world, and finished goods are often exported. China supplies more than half of the finished fur garments imported for sale in the United States. Even if a fur garment's label says it was made in a European country, the animals were likely raised and slaughtered elsewhere—possibly on an unregulated Chinese fur farm.

WARNING — This is to encourage people to learn and do something. It is not easy to read nor watch, but important because of such.

Watch the video
Hanging by the neck from a wire noose, water is poured down their throat through a hose until they drown. Many are skinned while still alive.

This is just one of the horrific scenes captured on video by investigators from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) as they infiltrated the cat and dog fur industry in China, Thailand and the Philippines. Cats and dogs that were once someone's pets, rounded up, transported in sacks and crates. Some are held in dingy, dark unheated buildings during the bitter winter of northern China, often without food or water.

The 18-month undercover investigation discovered that the trade in cat and dog fur is far bigger than was ever previously believed - the HSUS has revealed that more than 2 million of these domestic animals are abused and killed by the international fur trade each year. And this sick trade isn't just something that happens in far off lands - at least one company in Britain recently traded openly in the furs of these animals. […]

These animals end up as gloves, coats, hats or fur trim; their skins are used in the production of drums and other musical instruments. […]

In the US, fur products being sold for less than $150 are not required to be labelled, and conveniently for the fur trade, many items made with cat and dog fur are sold for less than $150 so are not labelled.

A Shocking Look Inside Chinese Fur Farms
Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade

25 November 2005

Number Spiral

via Information Aesthetics
Click for larger number spiralOut of the chaos comes a beautiful, sometimes undefinable order. Number Spiral is a website that documents and illustrates the concept of the same name: "A ribbon with non-negative integers placed along a ribbon which is rolled up with zero at its center. When all the prime numbers are highlighted, specific visual patterns (odd curves) seem to emerge."

I really wish I would have learned more math in my younger years. Though, it's never too late to learn. Anyon have any good introductory book suggestions?

Steven Pinker on Jews and genetics

via the TED Blog
What to make of recent research positing that 'selective breeding' over the last two milennia has resulted in superior intelligence (and rare genetic diseases) among Ashkenazi — or Eastern European — Jews? The unpublished study has been backed up, shot down and certainly hyped. If you're looking for insight — and you're in New York — you're in luck. Steven Pinker (who shies not from controversy) will give his take in a Dec. 1st lecture titled Jews, Genes and Intelligence. Another TED veteran, Noah Feldman, will moderate. And we'll report back.

24 November 2005

Brief typographic analysis of political campaign material

Pentagram's Paula Scher took a brief look at material put out by the Bush and Kerry campaigns and illustrates some of the points — from a design perspective — of how propaganda and communications can be affected by the use of type. I believe this was from a New York Times piece from last year.

Thank you, U of A

To the 180 or so students that listened to me ramble on between Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, I just wanted to say thank you for listening. I was most likely more coherent for the Wednesday evening lecture as I was feeling not as ill I've been. Please feel free to e-mail with any further questions or post any results from the experiments I gave you to try.

And many thanks to Joanne Wotypka, for every time I speak to one of her classes it allows me to further gauge what areas I need to focus on and which are applicable. I know my speaks are often a chaotic melange of references, from one thing to another, as my thoughts web out in my head. I've never been one to think straight. But this helps as I can further refine better ways to teach these subjects in quicker amounts of time, and hopefully find more media to make use of, too.


21 November 2005

Eyeball technologies

Going over Future Feeder led me to three posts about technologies dealing with ye ol' eyeball:—

Alex Waibel’s “translations goggles” displays virtual subtitles.
Stan Jou’s translator captures electrical signals from facial muscles translating silent mouthing of one language to speech or writing in another.

via PittsburghLIVE | NS

The prosthetic telescope, by VisionCare, is permanently implanted into one eye in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to reduce the ‘blind spot’, drastically improving vision (in over 200 patients in the phase 1 study).

via Medgadget | Israel21c

The Sarnoff Corporation’s new Iris on the Move™ uses infrared LEDs and an algorithm that isolates one’s iris for biometric identification (2048-bit code) on moving subjects. The device, similar in shape to a metal detector, only requires subjects to look forward while walking to scan at speeds up to 20 IDs per minute.

via NS

R. Buckminster Fuller’s “Synergetics”

Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, by R. Buckminster Fuller, has been transcribed in its entirety online.

Recovering thinker

This bit has been getting the rounds on the GDC listserv and seems to ring true with a lot of people, whether it's a designer or philosopher. Though, I'd like to note, I am ambivalent towards the NDP, as they usually receive my sympathy vote. The Tories still scare me and the Liberals are cunts, in public now even. Anyhow, here we are:
Hi, my name is Bob, and I am a recovering thinker…

It started out innocently enough: I began thinking at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another and soon I was more than just a social thinker. I began to think alone, "…to relax…" I told myself, but I knew it wasn't true.

Thinking became more and more important, and finally I was thinking all the time. I even thought on the job. I knew thinking and employment didn't mix, but I couldn't stop. I began avoiding friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I returned to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What exactly are we doing here?"

Things weren't great at home either. One evening I turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life — she spent the night at her mother's.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in and said, "Bob, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking is a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, I'll have to let you go." This gave me a lot to think about.

I went home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking…" "I know you've been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce." "But Honey, surely it's not that serious." "It is serious," she said, lower lip quivering. "You think as much as college professors, and college professors don't make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won't have any money!" "That's faulty syllogism," I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I'd had enough.

"I'm going to the library," I snarled and stomped out the door. I headed to the library in the mood for Nietzsche, roared into the parking lot, and ran up to the big glass doors… they didn't open. The library was closed. To this day I believe the Higher Power was looking out for me that night. As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. The words "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" stood out in large letters. You may recognize the line: it comes from the standard issue "Thinkers Anonymous" poster.

Today, I am a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video — last week it was Porky's. Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting. I still have my job and things are a lot better at home. Life just got easier, somehow, once I stopped thinking.

Soon, I'll be able to vote NDP again.

18 November 2005

Unreality TV

via Boing Boing
The Independent reports on a new reality TV show — in top secret production since March — that will trick nine clueless victims into thinking they've travelled into space. It'll be filmed live starting in December.

Issues that will be explained to them include the fact they will not be weightless in near space and that, like Sir Richard Branson's space-tourist shuttles, their craft will take off horizontally rather than vertically. A Russian fitness trainer will also take them through their physical paces.

The shuttle itself has been built using a set from the film Space Cowboys, starring Clint Eastwood, which was made from a NASA blueprint. It consists of three sections — a cockpit, a mid-deck where they will they eat and sleep, and a laboratory, where the team will carry out experiments — some of them authentic, others slightly more wacky.

The cockpit has four windows, which are in reality giant digital screens using graphics three times the resolution of high definition television and better than the visual effects used in The Matrix, capable of recreating hurricanes over Mexico.

17 November 2005

“Romantic Death”

Not quite safe for work, if you work in North America.

Brandi and Danielle look like NIN sluts

Last night at the Nine Inch Nails concert (review, Edmonton Journal), I was drawn in by the stage presence of the band and the way they used light and smoke to create these dramatic effects around the band members. Not only were they one of the best bands I’ve had the fortune of seeing live, but they sounded better than any, too. Trent has reserved himself a place in rock n roll heaven, as far as I’m concerned. Too bad the sound was shit for Death from Above 1979, as they’re a fantastic band.

And then after the show, Trent Reznor’s “personal trainer,” Gino, picked up Brandi and Danielle and took them backstage. Though, if I were in a band, I’d take those two backstage, too. Not willing to sleep around however, they took off and hung out with Death from Above 1979 at the Black Dog, on Whyte.

Jeremy and I were just down the street admiring their tour buses outside of The Met. I want some dirty stories for your wedding, Brandi.

And as I ran into a load of persons I knew there and some that read this, so Hello to those of you that do, like Dana, Trina, Victoria, Jarvis, Dallas (saw you rocking out in your private box), and my dear Seana: you poor girl — I hope you heal from that, uhh… little spill you took (“one drink” my ass).

14 November 2005

Contract Law Contest! Win $200!


Calling all barristers, solicitors and lawyers to be. Here's your chance to expand your resume and make your mark on the lululemon line of legal documents. We are looking for both contract and agreement submissions for all of the following items:
  1. Supplier contracts

  2. Employee agreements

  3. Liability contracts

  4. Litigation initiation

  5. Salary negotiation

  6. Vendor agreements

Each document should focus on the following:
  • Combining legalese with everyday yuppie language

  • Include our logo and name. This can be subtly ingrained in the documents' fine print

  • Justifying the 800% markup on our Olympic sponsored products for yoga, circus, tai chi, pilates and cross training to offset future lawsuits

  • For vendor agreements, focus on dismissing the validity of their profession by grouping amateurs and professionals together to maximize the balance of cost vs services — preferably to as close to zero as possible. (i.e. pit a professional against a grade school student and mine their ideas for free.)

Your work will be evaluated on the following criteria:
  1. Simplicity — is not overly difficult to steal and call our own

  2. The document has to be shown on an actual piece of paper so we can see placement and size of the paragraphs in relation to the paper (being lawyers, we felt it necessary to point this out)

  3. Use of verbage, new way of screwing people over, or a combination of techniques (conniving, swindling, professional hypocrisy, defrauding, scamming)

If we use your document you will receive a $200 cash reward in addition to having your work come to life on a lululemon contract.

All entries must be submitted by December 1, 2005 to Community Relations at the SSC, attention: Jaclyn Josephson.

Jaclyn Josephson
lululemon athletica
community relations coordinator
604.732.6124 ext. 244

Now of course you're sitting there saying, WTF? This isn't real. Of course it's not. Christina Peressini wrote this in response to something equally baffling and it's being circulated on the GDC listserv currently, to much glee: Vancouver-based retailer, lululemon, put up a contest for whoo! $200, and hope to waste many people's time without any direct consultation with the client. And it's not the first time the GDC has made a stand about this. The Vancouver Olympic committe held something similar, link. (Here is one reply, from Madhouse Creative, although many designers did obviously enter the competition.)

The Olympics have since agreed to work with the president of the GDC, Peggy Cady; link:
The president of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada says that the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee has agreed to a process that will let the GDC 'influence' the future course of Olympic design competitions.

Peggy Cady, speaking in Toronto where she is involved with the formation of Trade Team Canada, says that during her face-to-face and e-mail discussions with VANOC CEO John Furlong during the past week, he agreed to allow the GDC to "present formal guidelines" that, once approved by VANOC, will be included in the official Transfer of Knowledge Program of the International Olympic Committee. The guidelines, yet to be drafted, will make recommendations on how to conduct future logo-design competitions without raising the ire of international graphic design societies.

And here is lululemon's original request for "contest" entries:

Calling all designers and graphic designers to be. Here's your chance to expand your portfolio and make your mark on the lululemon line. We are looking for both design and graphic submissions on all of the following items:
  1. Men's t-shirt

  2. Men's long sleeve design for fall

  3. Women's t-shirt

  4. Fabric pattern for a women's tank top

  5. Fabric pattern for men's shorts

  6. Christmas gift box

Each design should focus on the following:
  • Combining art with athletics

  • Including our logo and name. This can be subtly ingrained in the artwork

  • Products for yoga, circus, tai chi, pilates and cross training for the Olympics

  • For men's wear, focus on the post metrosexual. (i.e. an athletic man who is in touch with his emotions.)

Your artwork will be evaluated on the following criteria:
  1. Simplicity — is not overly costly to produce

  2. The graphic has to be shown on an actual outlined garment so we can see placement and size of the graphic in relation to the garment

  3. Use of color, new techniques or a combination of techniques (embroidery, stitching, goop, screening, sewing)

If we use your design you will receive a $200.00 cash reward in addition to having your design come to life on a lululemon product.

All entries must be submitted by December 1, 2005 to Community Relations at the SSC, attention: Jaclyn Josephson.

Jaclyn Josephson
lululemon athletica
community relations coordinator
604.732.6124 ext. 244

EDIT — Visit Michael Surtees's blog, design*notes, to check out some of lululemon's responses to e-mails they're receiving from Canada's design industry.

Suicide and religious demographics in the United States

EDIT — Many thanks to Scott, in Vancouver, for creating the following composite from the above images (take from them what you will):

13 November 2005


I am sure many people are familiar with ambigrams, but to take a further look check out John Langdon. He did the ambigram work for Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown (of The Da Vinci Code fame).

There is also more information on ambigrams at Wikipedia, link. There is also mention of mathematician Douglas R. Hofstadter on that entry, of which his book Gödel, Escher, Bach featured a most wonderful three-dimensional ambigram on the cover. Hofstadter describes an ambigram as a "calligraphic design that manages to squeeze two different readings into the selfsame set of curves."

I have Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas sitting on my bookshelf next to me. It's a monster of a read, but piques my curiosity when I look at it every night before I go to bed. One day…

11 November 2005

Lest we forget

I'm the first to admit, I was an ass. As a child, we used to snicker and hate having to stand for those minutes of silence as we remembered our fallen to the World Wars. Albeit irreprehensible, we were naïve children in elemtentary school, it took Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan to truly open my eyes to the horrors of war. No other film has ever done such a phenomenal job of showing me what war is.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians are asked to pause and remember the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom and democracy during the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War and during peacekeeping missions.

This morning, as I drove to work, my thoughts stood still and I felt with a heavy heart. It may sound cheesy, but even playing Call of Duty 2 brings about semi-intense emotional reminders of the terror and panic of the War era that I experience now from thinking back.

To that, in my own way, I shall never neglect what I feel when I think back to all our forefathers that lost their lives, but rather I hold it close to me and maintain it in my memory so that it affects any decisions I may make and my opinions of war in general. Politics aside, they fought. For the freedom of others. For their loved ones. And because they had to. Lest we forget… Force is a weapon of the weak.

For more, please visit the CBC News Indepth: Remembrance Day or the coverage from Ottawa.
During the First World War, (1914-1918) more than 600,000 soldiers volunteered to go overseas. […] These soldiers fought in a series of costly and bloody battles and by the end of the war, more than 69,000 Canadian soldiers had died and 172,000 were wounded.

During the Second World War, (1939-45) more than one million men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served in combat in the army, air force and navy. More than 47,000 men and women did not come home from that battle.

In Korea, 516 Canadian soldiers died during the 1950-53 conflict, in which 26,791 Canadians served. The battles of Hill 355 and Hill 187, among others, saw Canadians fighting in swamps and rice fields, through torrential rain and snow, in the air and at sea.

In 2003, Canada marked the 50th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice by unveiling the Monument to Canadian Fallen at Confederation Park in Ottawa.

The words "WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU BRAVE SONS OF CANADA" are inscribed at the base of the monument, which also contains the names of all 516 Canadians who lost their lives in Korean War service or subsequent Korean peacekeeping service.

In 2004, Canada also remembered the 60th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, where Canadian troops suffered 18,444 casualties. Among them, 5021 were killed. Of all the divisions which formed part of the 21 Army Group, none suffered more casualties than the 3rd and 2nd Canadian.

It was a huge sacrifice – and a huge factor in turning the tide of the war against Hitler's Germany.

The first Remembrance Day, held in 1919 throughout the Commonwealth, was originally called Armistice Day. The day commemorated the end of the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.: the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The impending design of one's own Initiation

I adore Andrew Vande Moere's site, Information Aesthetics, as he is constantly scouring the world for posts on information visualisation. Here he has a few posts in the past few days that sort of tie together the idea of a world stress level displayed and reacted to in different ways. The most accessible here is Coca-Cola's Worldchill Radar, which allows you to input your "chill level" and check out the collective mood users around the world are doing in real-time.

Combine this with the eMoto mobile messaging service enhancement. According to Vande Moere:
enhancements of mobile phone text messages to convey emotional expressivity through 'cues of familarity'. the application extends on both the input & output channels when sending text messages between mobile phones. users use affective gestures to convey the emotional content of their messages which are then translated & communicated in colors, shapes & animations. the graphical expressions are non-symbolic & constructed from what is known about the effects of colors, shapes & animations.

And then, to top if off, there is this StressEraser, which is a "new wearable device that uses simple data visualization graphics to calm the mind and relax the body of its wearer. When the left index finger is placed in a sensor clip, the device decodes and then visualizes the influence of the 'stimulating & pacifying nerves.' … After learning this data mapping metaphor, users can adapt their breathing rhythm to stimulate specific nerves to quiet their mind and body."

Tie this in with the concept that Google may have a WebOS in the next decade, free WiFi may be as common as cellular coverage the world over, and and the whole Google ads thing wherever you go will have a database on the fly tailored to your every desire and need, this is an interesting start to a mapping of the social emotional welfare. Can these companies utilise the monster that is Google to create "emotional hotspots," beyond just the chill and stress levels of the Worldchill Radar? Imagine taking it a step further and allowing Jungian psychoanalysts to map out an archetypal journey akin to the Gnostic mythic structure of transcendental experience as spiritual journey. You could set up the paramaters of your own engineered Initiation.

A databse could be consistently updated in real-time of events, their level of intensity and emotional affect over the user, and how they correlate to past events that work themselves into a model akin to Campbell's Mythic Journey, a sort of database structuring humanity's monomyth. You could rate an event a 1 for ease, something you've grown accustom to doing, or a 10 for something that you would rather die than try. You may want an easy weekend, and follow the data fed to you via PDA or whatever, and not surpass the 3 for stress. This might prepare you for Monday where you know you'll be engineering for yourself a Call to Adventure that you'd normally avoid, and embark on a day involving stress levels of 6. Then into the Dark Night of the Soul, really pushing the chaos to a level of 9. Eventually you would restructure your perception of the world through these events and the rating system would be updated to reflect your growth, and new contexts and aventures would be available to you… say, next week, same time, same place? Or maybe you have a business trip to Montréal, try allowing a trip one evening to take you into a realm of stresses and contexts currently unaware to you but inherent in the Québécois culture. Who knows!

Sort of like how the chaos magicians of today engineer their own, I suppose?

10 November 2005

Standalone QuickTime Player

This is for all the annoyed users that want QuickTime without iTunes:

09 November 2005

Audrey Kawasaki

Because those earlier quotes on the concept of love led me to the lush paintings of Audrey Kawasaki, dealing with one of the finer objects of my affection: women. Dreamy, curvacious, colourful women. Oils on wood, no less.


I first heard of the viciously hedonistic massively-multiplayer online (MMO) video game, Sociolotron, from an old acquaintance of mine. He'd been playing it online when it was in beta and proclaimed that if there were any video game made specifically for me, it was this. Then I promptly forgot about it, as I'm wont to do.

Came across it again this evening, and it seems to continually be developing. This is a game that apparently "looks more like Dreamweaver than The Sims." But the thing that draws people back to Sociolotron in particular is "the dogged pursuit of removing any obstacle to character actions." Case in point:
The thing that will get most folks to play Sociolotron is the fact that the game is explicitly designed to be absolutely debaucherous. The skills range from the normal (blacksmith, sword, etc.) to the strange (prostitution, succubus). Sociolotron focuses on skill development, property acquisition, and social roleplaying to motivate the gameplay, and what it lacks in the graphics and polish department is made up for in the What the fuck?!? department.

Read a full review on GamesFirst.

On the topic of touching quotes

While perusing quotes from Terrence Malick's beautiful film, The Thin Red Line, adapted from the book by James Jones (of which I've not read), I came across this other line that has touched me every time I watch the film:
Are you righteous? Kind? Does your confidence lie in this? Are you loved by all? Know that I was, too. Do you imagine your suffering will be any less because you loved goodness and truth?

The Fountain, by Darren Aronofsky

Anyone who became hooked on Darren Aronofsky with his remarkable film dealing with numerology and the stock market, Pi, and then his adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr's Requiem for a Dream, will be pleased to know that he's finally gotten around to making the sci-fi that he's always wanted to do. Just goes to show what a little ingenuity can do…

"Spanning over one thousand years, and three parallel stories, The Fountain is a story of love, death, spirituality, and the fragility of our existence in this world."

Link to the official site. Link to the QuickTime trailer.

Funny enough, Aronofsky may be on his way to the Valhalla of filmmakers if he keeps up what he's been doing, and during the early stages of production Brad Pitt was slated to star but dropped out to star in Troy instead. Guess he deserve what he got with that piece of shit film. Pitt was later replaced by Hugh Jackman, currently starring alongside Rachel Weisz.

Here's to hoping Hollywood doesn't bugger it up. Wouldn't want Aronofsky to have to start suffering Alan Moore syndrome.

The Fountain's concept, the little I know of it, reminds me of a quote from The Thin Red Line that has stuck with me since I first saw it years ago. Sgt Walsh, speaking of love: "If I should never find you in this life, let me feel the lack. One glance from your eyes, and my life will be yours." I've always felt a bit alone, but comfortable in knowing that if I don't find it in this life, that I shall appreciate it that much more in time because of the appreciation of the lacking. I know many have touted self-discovery as the fulfilment that can replace the need to be needed, but Jung also pointed out, "Where love reigns there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking. The one is but the shadow of the other."

At this point, I say do not settle until you know.

08 November 2005

Gigantic apes co-existed with early humans

via Pop Occulture
Leave it to the always-intrepid Tim Boucher: this interesting piece via Yahoo! News, à la Harry and the Hendersons, proclaims some very exciting news: that humans may have lived alongside others that may be the ancient root of contemporary yeti and sasquatch myth. According to the article, "Jack Rink, a geochronologist at McMaster University in Ontario, has used a high-precision absolute-dating method to determine that this ape — the largest primate ever — roamed Southeast Asia for nearly a million years before the species died out 100,000 years ago during the Pleistocene period. By this time, humans had existed for a million years."

It's fucking teeth were an inch across. Check it out with the above link.

If I had to make a completely unfounded and imaginary theory, I would figure that they do not require clothing, live in the Hollow Earth somewhere, and are enlightened masters that occasionally knock around Icke's reptilian slave-drivers for fun. I wanted to make a joke about them flinging feces at the reptilians, but chances are they know what I'm thinking and would find such a comment uncouth.

Bernz, I keep thinking you'd like this post, so this one is for you. Damn you and your Vancouver weather. Though, I did speak with Sarah this morning, so damn Curaçao and the whole of the Dutch Antilles, too.

See through clothes and stuff

Well this is unexpected. Came across this via Michael Surtees: it's a method of viewing "through" objects uitilising infrared, as infrared waves tend to not be affected by materials the same way the visible spectrum of light is due to their "longer" waves. Kaya Optics has developed a way to use this to the great joy of voyeurs the world over. I want one.

Photos of the experiments
How it works

Capsula Mundi

via Sarah on Inhabitat
This takes the cake for the most profoundly spiritual redesign in recent memory. A pair of Italian designers have approached the boring and taboo realm of death and presented more pre-Christian look at burial rites: "Death is the return to the natural cycle of life. Death is part of living and therefore created, the Capsula Mundi, a biodegradable coffin, that allows the body to decay naturally. A tree will be planted as a remarker above each coffin at burial. And so the burial ground will grow into a sacred, memorial woodland."

To quote Inhabitat's Sarah:
The Capsula Mundi is an egg-shaped container made of bioplastic. The body of the deceased rests in a fetal position within this capsule, which gets planted in the earth like a bulb. A shallow circular depression is dug above the capsule to symbolize the presence of the body, in the center of which a tree is planted. Over time, the groups of burial sites become a sacred memorial grove.

Very beautiful, indeed.

07 November 2005

Typefaces for use in sigils

I Am FontShop is a realisation of something that many designers and typographers have yammered on, drunk, about at some point in their lives: Which typeface are you?

This is also interesting when one takes into account the construction of sigila in chaos magic. Read more about interfacing and casting sigila here, link.

Interestingly, if one wants to pursue a more emotional sphere around the construction of a sigil, this is an interesting site to check out. Whether it will do anything to aid in your intent will be up to your own capacity to construct the proper intent out of the cacophony that is one's thoughts.


Worth taking a peek at to see how people associate colour, shape, and portrait with varying types.

Lost notes on alchemy by Isaac Newton found

This is obviously making the occult rounds, but for those of you with a more science-oriented background, the following is noteworthy:—
Notes by the 17th century UK mathematician, physicist and astronomer Sir Isaac Newton, which scientists thought had been lost, have been found.

The notes on alchemy were originally discovered after Newton's death in 1727 but were lost after they were sold at auction in July 1936 for £15.

They were found while researchers were cataloguing manuscripts at the Royal Society, the UK's academy of leading scientists.

"This is a hugely exciting find for Newton scholars and for historians of science in general," says Dr John Young, of London's Imperial College Newton Project.

Newton is famous for his work in many areas, including mathematics, optics, astronomy, gravity and the laws of motion.

But he, like other leading scientists at the time, also researched alchemy, the notion of transforming base metals like lead to precious metals like gold and silver.

Much of the text is about the French 17th century alchemist Pierre-Jean Fabre. But one page is on Newton's own thoughts on alchemy.

"It provides vital evidence about the alchemical authors Newton was reading, and the alchemical theories he was investigating in the last decades of the 17th century," Young adds.

Newton's recently unearthed notes reflect part of his life hidden from the public while he was alive. This was partly because making gold and silver was illegal, and had been since the 1400s.

The text was written in English in his own handwriting, but it is not easy to decipher.

At the time, alchemists tended to record their methods and theories in symbols and codes so others couldn't understand.

Newton's celebrated work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (or Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) is considered one of the most important works in the history of modern science.

In it he formulates the three laws of motion, which formed the basis of classical mechanics, and laws of universal gravitation.

06 November 2005

Harley asked for an update

Scott says:
mmmm, Meat Beat Manifesto still sounds so good
[de] says:
i've had mixed feelings about them
[de] says:
sorta like Front 242
[de] says:
some good some bad
Scott says:
Fair nuff - apparently he did a project with The Orb which I want to hear
[de] says:
that would be neat
Scott says:
I am rather excited at the sunny day outside my window
[de] says:
it is grey here
[de] says:
some snow
[de] says:
no ninja or yeti, so the streets are relatively safe… for now
Scott says:
Scott says:
Put that on your blog
[de] says:
Scott says:
Scott says:
"Harley asked for an update"
Scott says:
Scott says:
you got the atypical lol out of me

04 November 2005

Huxley, world's first MMOFPS

I'm not going to pretend this has anything directly to do with anything, but I've been known to enjoy a game here and there. Today I came across a piece on the new video game project by Korean developer, Webzen. It's called Huxley. It's built with the yet-to-be-released Unreal Engine 3 (which has garnered enough accolade on its own merit). And it's the first massively multiplayer online first-person shooter (MMOFPS) to be conceptualised to fruition.

First off, start this download as it takes a while to get over here from beautiful Korea: right-click HUXLEY_01(1).wmv, or view it here. There is another video online, as well as plenty of screenshots.

I played it for a few months over Christmas 2004, but ultimately cancelled my World of Warcraft account and uninstalled it from my machine after a few months of playing. It was like the fucking Sims, trying to manage shit I have to do in real life: work, piss, play, sleep… repeat. This is not enjoyable to me. When I watched my wee hobbit character, Eärwa (named after the world in R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing series — yes, that was a shameless plug), actually fishing and having to wander around, gathering stuff to level up. Essentially, many people are trading the money they earn at jobs in this world to spend time re-enacting similar tasks, albeit much easier to do, in a virtual one.

My problem with the concept of MMORPGs is that you do the same thing at level 5 as you do at 10, 15, and 20. You just continue to accumulate experience points and level, but really the same gameplay is involved in clicking and whacking a baddie with a dagger as it is with your +1 Battleaxe of Iron Forge. Some speculative orders of spells, potions, and whatever may add some level of strategem, but it takes something like a sports game or a FPS to actually provide what I consider is real talent. Why? You give both players their choice of weapons, and it just comes down to who's reflexes, practice, and aptitude are more honed to that particular shooter.

Okay, enough with the game talk. This is silly. Go check out Huxley.

02 November 2005

The mirror as powerful tool

My friend Kris passed this New Scientist article on to me a bit ago, "Ease pain by taking a good look at yourself." In it, studies at the University of Bath in the U.K. show that people are highly susceptible to the feedback created by gazing upon oneself in a mirror. The research is based on pain in sufferers that they believe "the pain results from a mismatch in the way the brain perceives the body and the actual condition of the body."

I'm in no position to criticise this theory, but it seems an odd thing for a scientist to be delving into "beliefs" as such; this is very holistic for medicine, no? It's an interesting little read for any occultists out there, regardless.

On this note, last night I was reading the beginning to Foucault's Pendulum, by Umberto Eco, and came across this passage about mirrors, as well:
First, all those mirrors. Whenever you see a mirror — it’s only human — you want to look at yourself. But here you can’t. You look at the position in space where the mirror will say “You are here, and you are you,” you look, craning, twisting, but nothing works, because Lavoisier’s mirrors, whether concave or convex, disappoint you, mock you. You step back, find yourself for a moment, but move a little and you are lost. This catoptric theater was contrived to take away your identity and make you feel unsure not only of yourself but also of the very objects standing between you and the mirrors. As if to say: You are not the Pendulum or even near it. And you feel uncertain, not only about yourself, but also about the objects set there between you and another mirror. Granted, physics can explain how and why a concave mirror collects the light from an object — in this case, an alembic in a copper holder — then returns the rays in such a way that you see the object not within the mirror but outside it, ghostlike, upside down in midair, and if you shift even slightly, the image, evanescent, disappears.

Then suddenly I saw myself upside down in a mirror.


What was Lavoisier trying to say, and what were the designers of the Conservatoire hinting at? We’ve known about the magic of mirrors since the Middle Ages, since Alhazen. Was it worth the trouble of going through the Encyclopédie, the Enlightenment, and the Revolution to be able to state that merely curving a mirror’s surface can plunge a man into an imagined world? For that matter, a normal mirror, too, is an illusion. Consider the individual looking back at you, condemned to perpetual left-handedness, every morning when you shave. Was it worth the trouble of setting up this hall just to tell us this? Or is the message really that we should look at everything in a different way, including the glass cases and the instruments that supposedly celebrated the birth of physics and enlightened chemistry?

This moves me on to the last bit about mirrors here, from Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus, by Julius Evola and the UR Group. In it, there is a powerful ritual called "The Hermetic Caduceus and the Mirror," in which the writer known as Abraxas proceeds to summarise the spiritual accomplishments one should have grasped by this point (early on) in the book. Thus, once one is aware of the affects of external stimuli and comes to terms with the notion that nobody is real outside of themselves (even if it is just for the use of these exercises), truly comfortable with these perceptual metamorphoses, they can move onto the exercise — which is also explained in terms of alchemy, which I'll avoid here for lack of ASCII characters. Let's cover some highlights, as I'm too busy to quote it in its entirety here. And all of you should purchase this highly important book on magic if you want to learn from true masters:—
  • Every teaching of ours is illusory until it is translated into a practice and an action. [I have preached this on numerous occasions to those too fucking lazy to put theory to use.]

  • First, you need to become the master of a part of your life, or at least of your day, in order to firmly and actively establish a new quality […] Become innerly detached from yourself and from what surrounds you; maintain a sober, effortless, neutral, and well-balanced lifestyle, without excesses. […] Other beings do not exist. Do not let their actions, thoughts, or judgments affect you […] Observe all things in silence with your mind and remain unperturbed, stopping every judgment with a firm hand. […] If passions bother you, do not react or become perturbed. Bring them deliberately to satisfaction, and then get rid of them.

  • Grow in this direction until you are able to realize the frivolty, uselessness, and the threat of every thought, so that your mind, too, may slowly calm down and crouch at your feet.

  • Observe this sensation and retain it. When you will posses it entirely (through an inner act that I cannot tell you about, since you will learn it only after you have invented it), try to connect it with the body so that it may pervade it as warmth pervades water; in the end, of the two, only one thing, one state will result. […] When you have counquered this point, you can be sure you have progressed far enough.

  • You should not destroy feelings, but rather destroy your stubborn clinging to them, namely pleasure, desire, aversion, and anguish. […] Only then will feelings be able to speak to you — when you cease to be lost in them and concernedonly with enjoying or suffering. They will reveal to you a new organ of sense beyond the animal ones, as "objective" as they are, though oriented to a more subtle aspect of reality.

  • Having done that, attempt the liberation of the central power [described as alchemical Gold] and the encounter with the Serpent. This happens when the consciousness of your "Self" is able to transfer itself into the seat of the fluidic body, and when the latter is detached from the animal senses and consequently isolated from the physical world.

  • There are several techniques that can be employed. Scorn the cautiousness of the petty methods of "meditation," which can rarely free you — truly, not just your imagination — from the quagmire of mental forms and the prison of the brain. Employ instead direct techniques. Use the "Mirror."

  • The "Mirror" technique acts on the optical nerve and fatigues it, until the power concentrated in the act of staring is freed from the physical organ and actualized in the fluidic light. [This is the same goal of the yoga technique called pratayara. (Note by UR.)]

This goes on for a few more pages, describing how to find your state of mind and then the staring into a mirror, followed by the subsequent sensations to follow. As one keeps their stare on and everything else slowly phases out, "this point will turn into a black hole. The black hole will first grow into a bluish spot, then into a faint aura, and finally into a milky white one." The description is akin to the experiences I recently posted on, link.

I've practiced The Hermetic Caduceus and the Mirror in the past and had wonderful success with it, but remember that it requires an introspective awareness as well as the physical act of sitting your ass in front of a mirror. On the other hand, according to Bath, certain holistic results can be achieved without such training.

My theories on the mirror have always been that it creates the paradox of one reality upon another, à la Alice and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll. Something that reason can discern between, but that, with enough concentration (relaxation?), the mind can wander in-between worlds and find the astral or "fluidic" realm spoken of here by the UR Group, by Robert Bruce in his excellent Astral Dynamics, and numerous other texts and grimoires. It is the paradox that allows the mind to think in a sidereal manner, and it's that manner that can bring about these desired results.

Read the books. Do the work.

To make things slightly amusing at the moment, "The Doll House" songs, by Kenji Kawai on the Ghost in the Shell: Innocence soundtrack, are playing in my headphones. Anyone who's seen the movie, where Batô and his partner go into that hacker's palace and reality goes all to hell, will know why this funny.