27 February 2007



Light and darkness, life and death, on the right and left,
these are children, they are inseperably together.
But the good are not good, the wicked not wicked,
life not life, death not death.
Each element fades to an original source.
But those who live above the world cannot fade.
They are eternal.


The names of earthly things are illusory.
We stray from the real to the unreal.
If you hear the word “god,” you miss the real
and hear the unreal.
Father, son, holy spirit, life, light, resurrection, church.
These words are not real. They are unreal
but refer to the real, and are heard in the world.
They fool us. If those names were in the eternal realm,
they would never be heard on earth.
They were not assigned to us here.
Their end dwells in the eternal realm.


Only one name is not uttered in the world:
the name the father gave the son.
Above the name of all others is the father’s name.
The son would not be father without wearing
the father’s name.
Those with his name know it but do not speak it.
Those without his name do not think it.


Truth made names in the world,
and without them we can’t think.
Truth is one and is many,
teaching one thing through the many.


The rulers [Archons] wanted to fool us,
since they saw we were connected with the good.
They took the names of the good
and gave them to the not good
so with names they could trick
and rope us to the not good.
As though doing us a favour,
they took the names from the not good
and placed them on the good.
They knew what they were doing.
They wanted to grab those of us who were free
and make us eternal slaves.

The Gospel of Philip:
Nag Hammadi Codex II, 3, pp. 52,29 to 86,19
taken from The Gnostic Bible, pp. 261–2

21 February 2007

Congratulations Brandi & Darrin!

Work like you don’t need the money
Love like you’ve never been hurt
Dance like no one’s watching
Live like it’s heaven on earth!
Lova ya both! xo —Don

Islamic father killed family for being too western

A father killed his wife and four daughters in their sleep because he could not bear them adopting a more westernised lifestyle, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mohammed Riaz, 49, found it abhorrent that his eldest daughter wanted to be a fashion designer, and that she and her sisters were likely to reject the Muslim tradition of arranged marriages.

On Hallowe'en last year he sprayed petrol throughout their terraced home in Accrington, Lancs, and set it alight.

Caneze Riaz, 39, woke and tried to protect her three-year-old child, Hannah, who was sleeping with her, but was overcome by fumes. Her other daughters, Sayrah, 16, Sophia, 13, and Alisha, 10, died elsewhere in the house.

Riaz, who had spent the evening drinking, set himself on fire and died two days later.

Relatives broke the news to the couple's son, Adam, 17, as he lay terminally ill with cancer at the Christie Hospital, Manchester. He died six weeks later.

Michael Singleton, the coroner, recorded verdicts that Riaz killed himself and that his victims were unlawfully killed.

Riaz, who had spent all but the last 17 years of his life in the North West Frontier region of Pakistan, met his Anglo-Pakistani wife when her father sent her to the sub-continent to find a husband.

After an arranged marriage, she developed a career as a community leader in Accrington while he, handicapped by a lack of English, took on a series of low-paid jobs.

After Mrs Riaz's father died she "suddenly felt less beholden to Mohammed", a friend said. "She started to develop her own circle of friends and allowed the girls to express themselves in a more western way."

She began to work with women who felt suppressed by Asian culture and many saw her as a role model for young Asian women.

via the Telegraph

19 February 2007

My brother at Ayres Rock

He didn't find any aliens.

13 February 2007

The growth of a culture

I read a lot of design sites, particularly those dealing with word-of-mouth marketing, branding, experience design, and the like. It’s interesting watching firms make attempts to engineer cultures around their brands. Some of the silliest flops in marketing history have been because some group of marketers and/or execs thought they could sell a manufactured myth. While not entirely impossible, many people seem to miss the spirit of the brand, the soul of a community or culture.

I found this recent piece from New York Magazine interesting. One quote in particular, on the development of language from necessity to full-fledged, living, breathing thing, really caught my eye:

Younger people […] are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion. Every street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

So it may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones. For someone like me, who grew up sealing my diary with a literal lock, this may be tough to accept. But under current circumstances, a defiant belief in holding things close to your chest might not be high-minded. It might be an artifact—quaint and naïve, like a determined faith that virginity keeps ladies pure. Or at least that might be true for someone who has grown up “putting themselves out there” and found that the benefits of being transparent make the risks worth it.

Shirky describes this generational shift in terms of pidgin versus Creole. “Do you know that distinction? Pidgin is what gets spoken when people patch things together from different languages, so it serves well enough to communicate. But Creole is what the children speak, the children of pidgin speakers. They impose rules and structure, which makes the Creole language completely coherent and expressive, on par with any language. What we are witnessing is the Creolization of media.”

That’s a cool metaphor, I respond. “I actually don’t think it’s a metaphor,” he says. “I think there may actually be real neurological changes involved.”

It reminds me of a couple quotes I like:

“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”
—Benjamin Lee Whorf

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

“All men dream, but not equally.”

The article is about the new internet generation and their embracing the lack of privacy the people over 30 tend to convince themselves doesn’t exist (yet). They’ve embraced internet slang, mashups, and even rendered proper sentence structure to emotives and more intuitive communication structures akin to the personal interpretation prevalent in languages such as ancient Hebrew and Japanese. I think this return back to intuitive, subjective use of language is of particular importance, as it harkens back to more magical interactions with one another through a shared language — not a language predicated by the blacks and white of English grammar where our tools are defined for us, not by us so that we have a wisdom (knowledge + experience = wisdom) of what we're communicating to one another.

Of course, contemporary adults fear this. Adults fear almost everything they don't understand. I don't need to expound too much on this, but I wanted to make this post for posterity’s sake so I can refer back to it.

12 February 2007

California as a nation-state?

Quoted in its entirety from the New York Times:

Something interesting is happening in California. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to have grasped the essential truth that no nation — not even the United States — can be managed successfully from the center once it reaches a certain scale. Moreover, the bold proposals that Mr. Schwarzenegger is now making for everything from universal health care to global warming point to the kind of decentralization of power which, once started, could easily shake up America’s fundamental political structure.

Governor Schwarzenegger is quite clear that California is not simply another state. “We are the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta,” he recently declared. “We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state.” In his inaugural address, Mr. Schwarzenegger proclaimed, “We are a good and global commonwealth.”

Political rhetoric? Maybe. But California’s governor has also put his finger on a little discussed flaw in America’s constitutional formula. The United States is almost certainly too big to be a meaningful democracy. What does “participatory democracy” mean in a continent? Sooner or later, a profound, probably regional, decentralization of the federal system may be all but inevitable.

A recent study by the economists Alberto Alesina of Harvard and Enrico Spolaore of Tufts demonstrates that the bigger the nation, the harder it becomes for the government to meet the needs of its dispersed population. Regions that don’t feel well served by the government’s distribution of goods and services then have an incentive to take independent action, the economists note.

Scale also determines who has privileged access to the country’s news media and who can shape its political discourse. In very large nations, television and other forms of political communication are extremely costly. President Bush alone spent $345 million in his 2004 election campaign. This gives added leverage to elites, who have better corporate connections and greater resources than non-elites. The priorities of those elites often differ from state and regional priorities.

James Madison, the architect of the United States Constitution, understood these problems all too well. Madison is usually viewed as favoring constructing the nation on a large scale. What he urged, in fact, was that a nation of reasonable size had advantages over a very small one. But writing to Jefferson at a time when the population of the United States was a mere four million, Madison expressed concern that if the nation grew too big, elites at the center would divide and conquer a widely dispersed population, producing “tyranny.”

Few Americans realize just how huge this nation is. Germany could fit within the borders of Montana. France is smaller than Texas. Leaving aside three nations with large, unpopulated land masses (Russia, Canada and Australia), the United States is geographically larger than all the other advanced industrial countries taken together. Critically, the American population, now roughly 300 million, is projected to reach more than 400 million by the middle of this century. A high Census Bureau estimate suggests it could reach 1.2 billion by 2100.

If the scale of a country renders it unmanageable, there are two possible responses. One is a breakup of the nation; the other is a radical decentralization of power. More than half of the world’s 200 nations formed as breakaways after 1946. These days, many nations — including Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Italy and Spain, just to name a few — are devolving power to regions in various ways.

Decades before President Bush decided to teach Iraq a lesson, George F. Kennan worried that what he called our “monster country” would, through the “hubris of inordinate size,” inevitably become a menace, intervening all too often in other nations’ affairs: “There is a real question as to whether ‘bigness’ in a body politic is not an evil in itself, quite aside from the policies pursued in its name.”

Kennan proposed that devolution, “while retaining certain of the rudiments of a federal government,” might yield a “dozen constituent republics, absorbing not only the powers of the existing states but a considerable part of those of the present federal establishment.”

Regional devolution would most likely be initiated by a very large state with a distinct sense of itself and aspirations greater than Washington can handle. The obvious candidate is California, a state that has the eighth-largest economy in the world.

If such a state decided to get serious about determining its own fate, other states would have little choice but to act, too. One response might be for an area like New England, which already has many regional interstate arrangements, to follow California’s initiative — as it already has on some environmental measures. And if one or two large regions began to take action, other state groupings in the Northwest, Southwest and elsewhere would be likely to follow.

A new wave of regional devolution could also build on the more than 200 compacts that now allow groups of states to cooperate on environmental, economic, transportation and other problems. Most likely, regional empowerment would be popular: when the Appalachian Regional Commission was established in 1965, senators from across the country rushed to demand commissions to help the economies and constituencies of their regions, too.

Governor Schwarzenegger may not have thought through the implications of continuing to assert forcefully his “nation-state” ambitions. But he appears to have an expansive sense of the possibilities: this is the governor, after all, who brought Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain to the Port of Long Beach last year to sign an accord between California and Britain on global warming. And he may be closer to the mark than he knows with his dream that “California, the nation-state, the harmonious state, the prosperous state, the cutting-edge state, becomes a model, not just for the 21st-century American society, but for the larger world.”

Gar Alperovitz, a professor of political economy at the University of Maryland, College Park, is the author of “America Beyond Capitalism.”

10 February 2007

Fantastic CF Recruiting commercial

Every time this Canadian Forces Recruiting commercial comes on, I stop what I'm doing to watch it. I watch every clip in earnest, listening to the music, and capture every word as it comes up on the screen. Canada is a funny place, as part of the little bit of culture we can call our own is embracing and supporting our troops and peacekeepers, here and abroad.

I remember as a child, my friends and I never understood the implications of war. It was history, separate from us. I hope I'll never see the face of war. But after seeing films like Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, and the excellent Tae Guk Gi, I've been able to frame the pain and suffering.

I know little of the Canadian Forces aside from the respect they command from my perception of them. This commercial (its branding) nicely sums up how I believe they ought to be perceived. Bravo to the firm that produced it.

It also reminds me of cultural artefacts from the Canadian government which we Canadians are presented with every Remembrance Day:
Vignette: Canada Remembers

"A Pittance of Time"

08 February 2007

Shine on ’em

I watched Blood Diamond last night, and it reminded me a lot of Hotel Rwanda and an older post I made on the the disturbing reality of the Chinese fur trade (warning, disturbing imagery).

Aside from enjoying the film, though some of the literary devices were easily contrived, it brought me back to wondering about how people can relate further outside of their 3° of separation. I read somewhere that most people (Westerners) can't often put anything outside of 2° or 3° of separation into context, so it rarely affects their life choices. This is unless it reflects a lifestyle choice, which in turn is a reflection of them expressing themselves through actions. For example, you buy dolphin-safe tuna because it makes you better, not because you know much about the symbol on the tuna label, or the processes taken, whether or not it's really dolphin-safe or how they define that, et cetera. It just reflects the notion that you would think it bad to hurt dolphins (though they're the only animals aside from humans that rape for pleasure).

One of the most powerful lines I've ever heard was in Hotel Rwanda: Colonel Oliver, explaining why the world will not intervene in the Tutsis genocide, "You're black. You're not even a nigger. You're an African."

And it was true. Even while watching Blood Diamond, I couldn't help but feel a little exasperated at the African condition. (Not just through film, but through other media, too. And stories of friends that have been located in Africa. The best I can get without having travelled there myself.)

Why does the West donate so charitably to the tsunami relief fund a couple years ago, but neglect Africa? And if it's natural for us to embrace our 3°-wide environ, where is the broken link in our social fence that's preventing us from taking care of one another. Or does it start with many of us, are we broken links? Do we only make decisions based on how they make us feel? I guess this is the difference between knowledge and experience.

Our past resident asshole-in-office, Ralph Klien, made that abundantly clear when he, drunk, threw loose change at homeless people in a shelter back in 2001. Of course, I don't know if the homeless people threw loose change at Klein first, prompting the ordeal, but it's an example how one can view their case as so separate from the conditions that surround us.

I don't know where I am going with any of this. It's thoughts on why we lack the capacity to embrace a holistic civilisation.

06 February 2007

Bev Oda, I strongly dislike you

We live in a wondrous age of communications, new arts and media, and new social experimentation. But the behemoths of antiquity loom over us, every-present and perpetuating their own existence. When will it be okay for us to publicly execute politicians again? Really.

I've written two letters to Bev Oda (I highly doubt she reads them herself), expressing my distaste for her efforts to bring Canadian copyright law around to reflect the interests of corporate America. But now she's among the many federal politicians to be outed for abusing public dollars on personal, frivolous fluff, like limousines:

Documents obtained by the Liberals under Access to Information show that Oda and her staff used a private limo company 11 times in four days, ordering several cars each day and paying drivers to stand by for as long as seven hours at a stretch.

The bill, dated April 8, totalled $5,476. Documents show Oda wrote a cheque reimbursing the government for $2,226 on May 19.

"When people started asking questions, the minister’s conscience apparently got the better of her and she cut a cheque for $2,200, but when will the minister cough up another $3,200 to cover the rest of the cost of her Juno joyride?" Liberal MP Michael Savage asked in the House of Commons.

Makes me wonder, from a design standpoint, how to reprimand politicians without actually beheading them. (It's a fabulous idea, but just not savvy with the times.) It all reminds me of this Agnes Repplier quote: "The clearsighted do not rule the world, but they sustain and console it."

Read more on the excellent Bev Oda via Boing Boing:
Canadian Heritage Minister Oda in the pocket of recording execs

Canada's about to have a copyright disaster

Can. Heritage Minister's election was funded by entertainment co's

Canadian copyright czar forced to turn away industry bribes

Hollywood's Canadian Member of Parliament

Canadian copyright minister caught lining pockets

Hello Kitty Tarot

“The cutest tarot deck you will ever own”

Click the GIFs to visit site

‘The Machine is Us,’ by Michael Wesch

Absolutely superb.

via Wonderland

05 February 2007

‘Hardwired’ to home in on six focal colours

The Economist gets all misty eyed over colours, the emotions they evoke, and how this fundamental response crosses linguistic barriers. All in highly scientific and technical terms of course.
If humans really are hardwired to home in on six focal colours, then all languages should assign words around those six. Dr Regier, however, tests a subtler concept. He thinks that useful languages should allot words in order to minimise the perceptual difference between colours of the same category, and maximise it between colours in different categories. Unlike national boundaries, linguistic boundaries should form only in the valleys of his colour globe, never over the hills.

via Readymade News

03 February 2007

Career planning may be a waste of time

Since people are "poor at predicting what will make us happy in the future" (the term of art is miswanting), perhaps careful career planning is a waste of time. "The best strategy for career planning is this: make your best guess, try it out and don't be surprised if you don't like it." I've done 0 minutes of career planning and I'm happy with the results. See also The Chaos Theory of Career Development.

via kottke.org

If your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either

People who are social, religious, or political conservatives tend to have more children, and that fact has profound implications for culture, for politics, and for business. In the United States, for example, fertility rates are 12% higher in states that voted for George W. Bush in the most recent presidential election than in the more liberal and secular states that supported his opponent. Indeed, if the John Kerry states seceded and formed a new nation, its fertility rate would be just 1.8 children per woman—13% below the level needed to replace the population.

This link between fertility and conservatism is found not only in the United States but in Europe, Israel, the rest of the Middle East, and elsewhere. There is a strong correlation between adherence to traditional Christian, Judaic, or Islamic values and high fertility. And as an increasing share of all children is descended from people whose conservative values have led them to raise large families, we see the emergence of societies in which the patriarchal and highly pro-natal values of the Abrahamic religions are dominant.

So what caused the rise of liberal secularism in the first place? Patriarchy, as it has traditionally manifested itself, requires a man to marry a “respectable” wife and to take responsibility for the children she bears him. In part because of these obligations, traditional patriarchy is unappealing to many men. Similarly, many women take issue with the roles a patriarchal society prescribes for them. When broad swaths of the population come from something other than a conservative upbringing—as they did in the 1960s and 1970s—patriarchy’s constraints on personal freedom can seem excessive to men and women alike. Then gender roles relax, birthrates fall, and patriarchy goes into retreat.

But patriarchy always makes a comeback, because its adherents put more genes and ideas into the future than do their secular counterparts. This process is already well under way in the United States. For example, among American women just now passing beyond reproductive age, nearly 20% are childless and almost as many have only one child. Consequently, a relatively large share of the next generation is descended from a comparatively narrow and socially conservative segment of society that places a high value on reproduction. Today we see a culture in which social conservatives and the religious-minded play a far greater role than they did forty years ago.

…continued via the Harvard Business Review

What is confidence?

This is what the collective genius of Wikipedia has come up with: "Confidence: When the anxiety is at an optimum level, you are at your best. You know that negative outcomes are possible, but rather than exaggerating or minimizing it, you give it the due attention necessary (What can I do if this happens…). So perhaps a better definition of confidence is the state of balanced perceptions and preparation."

And I wrote this some time ago and continue coming back to it:

Power is how one utilises their roster of wisdoms (knowledge + experience = wisdom) to maintain their order and interpretation of reality held over any others.

Because reality requires two or more persons to define it, I want to define confidence as the state of defining the boundaries by which you establish your sovereign understanding of context(s) and your resident power over them. (Power as defined above.)

Watching managers work with their staff is often an eloquent dance of establishing limits by the manager(s) to keep staff working within expected parametres. Or when someone uses their wisdom/power to infringe themselves on an area of someone else's life, but the victim has no abstract or concept of just what this area of their life is or how it works. (Lots of poeple fear marketing for just this reason.)

So is this one of the real keys to occult power? Building up ontologies of perceptions and simply being able to impose your perceived orders — metaphysical scaffolding of understanding that one person may have over their world — over others because they haven't the experience and/or knowledge to defend themselves. In other words, the one-eyed may be the king of the blind.

Which brings me back to this quote by Daniel Goleman:

The range of what we think and do
is limited by what we fail to notice.
And because we fail to notice
that we fail to notice
there is little we can do
to change
until we notice
how failing to notice
shapes our thoughts and deeds.

Always be at least aware: there are those others out there that notice, and they can experiment with your own personal boundaries by imposing themselves upon your will to find where it's most malleable and open to influence. How can you protect yourself if you're not willing to explore yourself spiritually, your own depths to know how you've defined yourself?

Indeed, in the kingdom of the blind, the man with one eye is king.

01 February 2007

Crazy smart

I know Nerdshit posted this a while back, but I never got around to reading it. The BPS Digest has an entry on "crazy" experiences and being a genius. Lots of people walk around trying to pretend their hardcore crazy or rebels to the bone, but really… it's not as easy as you think. I long ago realised, with the aid of a background in chaos magic, that paradigms were my friends. I learned to shift perspectives — paradigm management, I called it — and in my early twenties I sometimes wanted to kill myself because I couldn't find one reality to settle on. It's hard being one's own Devil's advocate on every issue in life.

It's the people that may be a bit out in leftfield that strive to claim their normalcy, trust me. But establishing an ordered view of the world and one's reality from outside of that social norm is an achievement of no little value. I mean, really, you've wandered off the beaten path of social mores and risked your sanity and social niceties to explore — what? — reality from a ways off the beaten path? So what's the point?

Poets and artists have as many ‘unusual experiences’ as people with schizophrenia

The idea that creative geniuses might not be entirely sane isn't exactly new. But just how much do creative types have in common with people suffering from psychosis? Well, according to Daniel Nettle at the University of Newcastle, serious poets and artists have just as many ‘unusual experiences’ as people diagnosed with schizophrenia. What saves them from the disabling effects of schizophrenia is that they don’t suffer from the lack of emotion and motivation – known as ‘introvertive anhedonia’ – also associated with the illness.

Nettle asked artists and poets, mental health patients and ‘non-creative’, healthy controls to fill out a questionnaire that’s designed to detect schizophrenic-like symptoms in healthy people. Participants seriously involved in poetry or art (as opposed to mere hobbyists, or non-creative controls) reported having just as many unusual experiences as did patients diagnosed with schizophrenia – that is they tended to answer yes to questions like “Do you think you could learn to read others’ minds if you wanted to?” or “Are the sounds you hear in your daydreams really clear and distinct?”. However, in contrast, they scored lower than both patients and healthy controls on measures of lack of emotion and motivation.

“What factors moderate the development of introvertive anhedonia, and whether they can be modified during life, is yet to be determined”, Nettle said, “but is obviously of the greatest interest in terms of the prevention of suffering and the enhancement of creativity”.

Nettle also asked professional mathematicians to complete the same questionnaire. He found they reported even fewer unusual experiences than the healthy controls, but that they tended to score highly on lack of emotion and motivation – the opposite pattern to artists and poets. “The constellation of autism, systemising and science appears to be in many respects the opposite tail of the distribution to the constellation of arts, unusual experiences and affective and psychotic disorders explored in the present study”, Nettle said.

And on that note, to any naysayers who worship the stability of the status quo, Nobel Prize genius Crick was under the influence of LSD when he first deduced thedouble-helix structure of DNA nearly 50 years ago.

Being out in leftfield is fine as long as you maintain regular experience interacting with your fellow peers. No man is an island, unless you're on that Zen path.

Crazy needs to be harnesses and utilised. The problem is the social checks and balances that believe that the ego — as structured by standard institutions such as family, school, and whatever else — is a unique and special thing. If we can temporarily create environs and conditions which do away with that belief, we can design experiences which will draw the mind away from its normal precepts and into uncharted waters. Here, we can build new analogies and bridges to answer more of the world's design problems. It can be done faster and more effectively, too, if semantic and social relationships are maintained without fear, censure, or prejudice. The translators have to maintain an understanding of how the psychonaut gets to where they're going so they can translate the results back to the norms of the "everyday" world.

Speaking of which, I should get around to reading The Ten Faces of Innovation. It's been just sitting here, staring at me for months now. I am sure it'll expound on some of these thoughts…

Philip Worthington’s Shadow Monsters

Old news to some, I know, but I just came across this project again via the Processing site. Processing was used to code it, I presume.

Free money? What’s the catch?

It’s a funny state of affairs when you think about the state of society in which we live. I found this amusing post on John Maeda’s The Laws of Simplicity website:
When I saw Google yesterday offering a free 10 dollars for the taking, it reminded me of an experiment on trust by my wacky friend Prof. Dan Ariely. He did an experiment where he set up a table in a public space with a bowl containing cash and a sign that said, “Free Money.” Dan found that with a pile of one-dollar bills, 10% of the passerbys would stop and take the cash; with fifty-dollar bills, only 22% took him up on his offer. His point was that “If someone is offering me something free, there must be a trick to it.”

We can be cynical in life, and assume that there really is no thing as a totally “free lunch.” To complete mis-trust everything around you can probably lead to a lonely state of being. Well, in another browser window there I am about to “Sign up to earn [my] $10 bonus.” Free money is only a click away.

31 January 2007

Brevity: a key to finding one’s own

So in a lot of recent posts, here and elsewhere, it comes down to the defining moments of one's life that — when cross-referenced — will begin to illustrate the driving dispositions in our lives. If forced to widdle down all the "complexities" of one's life, what are the remaining, driving elements. The ones that tie most of your decision-making together by theme?

Have none? Check out the "elevator pitches" as posted on Idea Sandbox for some inspiration. He reviews the opening narration from tv shows such as Star Trek and My Name is Earl:

It can be challenging to boil down what you do into a short blurb… For inspiration, I suggest paying attention to the 30-second narrations at the beginning of TV shows.

At the start of each episode producers deliver the swift backstory and premise of the show. If this was our first viewing, we would understand what makes the show worth attention.

Think about parties or those instances at the bar or meets where you briefly meet someone, and they ask about you. What do you say? Do you stumble for words? Do you define yourself by your job? Blech. I'm not insinuating that it's all about drawing attention to yourself, but it's more than that. It's about refining your observation of yourself in order to communicate with those around you more efficiently. This builds more effective networks in which you can explore. It also allows you to gauge your thoughts, actions, and future decisions against what may, in time, become a fairly accurate portrayal of what sort of human being you want to be.

The power of poetry (and design) is being able to see a context where others can't. Wrapping word around concepts by which you can easily share with others. According to Alan Moore in this video clip, this is also, by definition, one of the jobs of a magician.

Perhaps this is a key to what imbues authenticity, to what defines the gods as higher ideals by which me might devote ourselves. And perhaps this is what eludes so many people, the capability to turn one's analysis on the self in order to create a brief model which can define. This model can be tested against future actions, reduced further over time, and changed. But the further we can extrapolate a poetic model by which we act, the more we know about ourselves.

And the gods we serve.

A visual analogy of this can be seen in Neil Kandalgaonkar's digital art (coincidentally enough, he uses the online handle brevity), who was inspired by the work of Jason Salavon (whom I posted on back in September 2005). In the above image, by Neil, he uses 50 images of the Eiffel Tower, all pictured by different people and then blended together. No matter how abstract, though, in the blur of perceptions is the Tower.

I am sure most of us look within with blurred vision. These are all analogies for things spiritual and subtle, but the more time we cross-referencing ourselves with our environs, the closer we'll get to a more refined picture by way of finding similarities and dismissing the disparate.

EDIT — A lot of my posts are the antithesis to brevity, but I use this blog as an outpouring so that I might peruse it later… and then make more condensed understanding and statements about the more lengthier bits. Anhow, Logic+Emotion has this on Saying More With Less:
I didn't need to read anything else. In one word I understood exactly what it was saying. But even more meaningful was what it wasn't saying. I'm not an eco-activist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think about the kind of world my boys will live in when I'm gone.

What if we used less words more often?

A single word. It didn't condemn me, or make me feel guilty or defensive. By not saying more it did.

What if we got back to basics and just said what we really meant--instead of using the right kinds of lingo and abbreviations?

What if we left more room for intepretation?

Rent Jesus Camp

I just watched Jesus Camp. May I recommend checking it out? You can watch George talk with the directors on The Hour (from 22 Jan 2007):
A new documentary called 'Jesus Camp,' has been nominated for an Academy award. Richard Roeper — of Ebert and Roeper — called it "one of the most compelling documentaries of the year."

The film is about a camp in Devil's Lake, North Dakota where kids as young as 6 years-old are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in "God's army" to "take back America for Christ."

For more on Jesus Camp, go to the documentary site.

Fundamentalist mother’s beliefs lead to son’s suicide

From Talking in Circles:
FSTDS is usually good for a few laughs. I went there expecting to waste some time reading other people’s ignorant comments… and I see this:

“Just recently my son Bobby came out to me. I had been worried for awhile. His teachers said most of his grades were slipping and he seemed depressed and withdrawn.

Bobby said he’d been hiding it for awhile because he was afraid I would reject him. I sat him down and told him that I loved him and that God loved him, but that his salvation was in danger if he did not resist his unnatural tempations. I told him how being gay would mean he would live a shorter life, and that if he couldnt change his orientation he could be celibate like most the ex-gays are. He started crying saying something along the lines of “I knew you wouldnt understand! You’re just like everyone else!” before running to his room and slamming the door.

What did I do wrong? I dont want to lose my son, but I fear I already have. I talked it over with his therapist, who had the ludicrous idea that homosexuality was unchangable and that trying to repress could lead to lots of psychological damage (I’ve dropped him and will try to be finding another therapist with more moral beliefs). I wouldnt be surprised if he’s the one who’s feeding my son all the homosexual propaganda about how its ‘ok’ to be gay. That, or how homosexuality has engulfed the media, making it seem ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ and how they were just another oppressed minority. You didnt have to worry about seeing two men making out on tv at my age! I dont want to sound like a fanatic, but Im worried what other effects will come out of this increasingly secular, immoral society obsessed with filth.

Am I too late? Or is it possible to save my son”

I checked the thread this was posted on, and the son later killed himself.

There are very few things that can bring me to hate someone. I understand that everyone has different world views, and that everything they say and do has a reason behind it. I know no one ever intentionally does something they know is wrong, and that there is motivation for even their most despicable actions. I’m against the death penalty, and I believe in giving people a second chance. I know Betty loved her son, and wanted to help him, in her own way.

I can say, after reading this, that I truly hate Betty, the mother of this child. It doesn’t matter to me how devoutly she believed what she was doing and saying was right; it doesn’t matter how much she loved him; it doesn’t matter how bad she feels now that he’s dead. She was a direct cause of his death, and she could have prevented it with a single apology. She deserved to die more than her son did.

But even more than that, I hate fundamentalist Christianity.

From the subsequent forum threads:
I'm so distraught; I can't stop crying! What did I do wrong? Is my son in Hell now for killing himself??

[Aside from obviously supportive posts — albeit largely biased, that gays are unnatural and evil — here are a couple from the user Aineo:]

Betty, you did nothing wrong. We live in an evil world where evil men could care less about people. All they care about is their personal agendas. Gay activists have disseminated one horrible lie after another to get liberals and cheap grace Christians on their side without giving any thought to who is really being hurt; the children.

We serve an awesome God of love who understands what we go through. We will never fully understand His perfect love this side of heaven. I don't believe a loving God is going to judge and condemn a child to hell because of what evil men have done to corrupt his own self-image.

I fully believe you can take comfort from David's words after his son born of Bathsheba died. "He will not return to me, but I will go to him."

But wasnt it my fault for not accepting him? :(

How did you "not accept" your son? Don't buy into the hateful and totally erroneous propaganda coming from the gay activists who blame Christians for every problem in the gay community and every gay teen suicide. This is simply a fallacious argument designed to make parents of gay teens fearful of what a few gay teens do.

He had been upset with me because I told him that being gay was wrong.

Have you ever told your son that other behavior is wrong? If you can answer yes to this question why didn't he suicide because you told him other behavior is wrong?

You are not responsible for what you son did.

Blame gay activists who lie about the psychological roots of homosexuality in some, blame the homophobic idiots who call themselves pastors and the teachers of God's truth, blame our society that has turned homosexuality into a political football, but you don't have to blame yourself.

My mother blamed herself when her youngest son died of AIDS and I have never understood why.

Jeff Han’s multi-touch display

New footage of his famous multi-touch display, displaying all sorts of Minority Report style goodness. Jeff Han is a research scientist for New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

via Information Aesthetics

Datagraphic of global financial activity

I was just mesmerised by this. Money’s so cool. So are globes.
Click the image for the link. Or here.

30 January 2007

Avatars and Their Creators

Alter Ego: Avatars and Their Creators (Amazon.com, .ca, .co.uk) is a cool concept book, presenting the phenomenon of the contemporary avatar-the virtual characters gamers choose and design to engage in 3D worlds online. Portraits of gamers from the United States, Europe, China, and Japan (including leading figures of the gaming world) are paired with digital images of their alter egos, graphically dramatizing the gap between fantasy and reality.

With an introduction by one of digital culture's leading observers, and a glossary of relevant terms, each of the seventy pairs of images are accompanied by detailed gamers' profiles. Sometimes hilarious and always visually exciting, Alter Ego also serves as a guide to the new world of the avatar and is a serious contribution to the debate about the future of society in the digital age.

Robbie Cooper (not pictured) is a photojournalist. Born in London in 1969, his essay about Somalia was awarded the United Kingdom's leading young photographer's prize in 1992 (the Ian Parry scholarship). He now works regularly for magazines including Esquire, GQ, Geo, Liberation, and The Sunday Times Magazine.

Julian Dibbell (not pictured) is a contributing editor of both Wired magazine and the website Feed. Author of My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World (1999, described as "quite simply the best book written about the dynamics of online life"), he writes regularly for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and TIME magazine on topics such as hackers, online communities, music pirates, and the philosophical questions of the digital age. He lives in South Bend, Indiana.

Old BBC News article (Oct 2004) on Cooper's earlier exhibit.

via Wonderland

The disfigurines of Justin Novak

The ceramic figurine has historically embodied a mainstream, bourgeois ideology, and for this reason, I have employed it in the presentation of an alternative vision; an ironic anti-figurine, or 'disfigurine'. This subversion of the genre challenges the promotion of conformism manifested in traditional figurines.

In the 'disfigurine' series, physical wounds such as bruises and lacerations serve as metaphors for injury to self-esteem and other psychological harm. Whereas the figurine has historically represented the dominant culture's norms and ideals, the disfigurines aim to expose the damage inflicted by those very same expectations.

The fine line that exists between the “tasteful” and the “grotesque” is precisely the course that I strive to navigate. It is in the haunting tension between the two that seduction and repulsion inhabit the same space, where the very function of “taste” is perhaps suspended, and the politics of these gleaming white aesthetics are laid bare.

Justin Novak

via 1 + 1 = 1

William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition in production

Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show) is set to direct the film adaptation of William Gibson’s novel. It has been adapted for the screen by Weir and David Arata (Children of Men).

The first of William Gibson’s usually futuristic novels to be set in the present, Pattern Recognition is a masterful snapshot of modern consumer culture and hipster esoterica. Set in London, Tokyo, and Moscow, Pattern Recognition takes the reader on a tour of a global village inhabited by power-hungry marketeers, industrial saboteurs, high-end hackers, Russian mob bosses, Internet fan-boys, techno archeologists, washed-out spies, cultural documentarians, and our heroine Cayce Pollard—a soothsaying “cool hunter” with an allergy to brand names. Set for release in 2008.

Pollard is among a cult-like group of Internet obsessives that strives to find meaning and patterns within a mysterious collection of video moments, merely called “the footage,” let loose onto the Internet by an unknown source. Her hobby and work collide when a megalomaniac client hires her to track down whoever is behind the footage. Cayce’s quest will take her in and out of harm’s way in a high-stakes game that ultimately coincides with her desire to reconcile her father’s disappearance during the September 11 attacks in New York.

Check out an Occulterati interview with Gibson here.

How does lifestyle and fashion relate to mysticism?

Muji (無印良品, Mujirushi Ryōhin) is a Japanese retail company which sells a wide variety of household goods. Muji is distinguished by its design minimalism, emphasis on recycling, avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and no-logo policy. Products range from pens, notebooks, and clothing for men and women to food items and major kitchen appliances. Its primary business includes Café Muji, Meal Muji, Muji Campsite, florist and home furnishing; the company has recently taken steps into housing construction.

Muji is in the process of opening it's first North American stores, both in New York City.

EDIT — Just speaking with my friend Scott in Germany, and this is what he has to say about Muji:

scott says:
muji is a cheap anti-brand
not much better
dE says:
poor quality?
scott says:
anti-brand japanese brand
no lables

I live in a city where Diesel and J. Lindeberg have outsold any other city in North America per capita. Ikea is in every household, but the quality is shite and few are aware of any alternatives. And where people trick themselves out with style, they're often spending way too much for weak branded adaptations of what's already been predefined by others. (Diesel's attempts to define urban attitude and storytelling through their pre-ruined lines is ridiculous.) But people buy this stuff up in droves, as it's been defined to them. Wear Diesel, you belong to the tribe of choice. You may now chase after bimbos and top forty music.

Then are the subcultures — punk, goth, skater (the new jock) — they're all diluted parodies of what was once genuine cultural initiatives. New music, new art, and new modes of thought have been brought to the malls of suburbia. There's absolutely nothing punk about punk.

And those that forego predefined styles, for the most part, lack any sort of substance. But what does that mean? If substance is spiritual in nature, and spirituality is a depth of knowing oneself. Of course, I'll hit up Wikipedia for a notion: involving (as it may) perceived eternal verities regarding humankind's ultimate nature […] Spirituality may involve perceiving life as higher, more complex or more integrated with one's world view; as contrasted with the merely sensual.

  • Style is the world view defined by an élite living out the story of that aesthetic, defining it moment to moment as it happens.

  • Thus, the substance of those with the most integrated world view and involved dialogue with their communities command and affect the subsequent style.

  • Review Aristotle's three steps or "offices" of rhetoric — invention, arrangement, and style — and three different types of rhetorical proof:

    • ethos: how the character and credibility of a speaker influence an audience to consider him to be believable.

    • pathos: the use of emotional appeals to alter the audience's judgment.

    • logos: the use of reasoning, either inductive or deductive, to construct an argument.

  • We may have elements to spread trends by the popularity or respect given by idolaters, how the experience of the styles affect the followers of the trend (socially, inter-personally, and how the individual feels when alone with their chosen styles… or do the styles define their actions?), and by context (i.e., a winter jacket is more useful in winter than that cute blouse you bought over summer… however, we still see a lot of idiots out on Whyte Avenue in their mini-skirts and other sill get-ups in the dead of winter).

Occultism is the study of the inner nature of things, as opposed to the outer characteristics that are studied by science. The inability of science and mathematics to penetrate beyond the relationship between one thing and another in order to explain the "inner nature" of the thing itself, independent of any external causal relationships with other "things" is dealt with in some detail by the German Kantian philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in his treatise entitled The World as Will and Representation, in which he designates this inner nature with the term Will.

The occultist Aleister Crowley likens the approach of conventional science to the process of measuring ten yards with a stick about which we really know nothing but that it is one tenth of the ten yards in question. Every "fact" we hold true of the physical universe is merely an idea stated in relationship to other ideas, and if we try to establish any such "fact" in absolute terms we find it is impossible. If A is defined as BC, where B is DE, C is FG and so onwards the terms of dependency increase exponentially, and we even come to the point where Z is circularly defined in terms of A.

Schopenhauer also points towards this inherently relativistic nature of mathematics and conventional science in his formulation of the 'World as Will'. By defining a thing solely in terms of its external relationships or effects we only find its external, or explicit nature. Occultism, on the other hand, is concerned with the nature of the thing-in-itself. This is often accomplished through direct perceptual awareness, known as mysticism.

Mysticism from the Greek μυστικός (mystikos) "an initiate" (of the Eleusinian Mysteries, μυστήρια (mysteria) meaning "initiation") is the pursuit of achieving communion or identity with, or conscious awareness of, ultimate reality, the divine, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, or insight; and the belief that such experience is an important source of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Traditions may include a belief in the literal existence of realities beyond empirical perception, or a belief that a true human perception of the world transcends logical reasoning or intellectual comprehension. A person delving in these areas may be called a mystic.

In many cases, the purpose of mysticism and mystical disciplines such as meditation is to reach a state of return or re-integration to Godhead. A common theme in mysticism is that the mystic and all of reality are One. The purpose of mystical practices is to achieve that oneness in experience, to transcend limited identity and re-identify with the all that is.

Express oneself and relate one's world view to these three elements: invention, arrangement, and style. Are these the elements of culture? The difference between those that define the living culture and those that have no capacity to avoid the sway of the "mystics"?

  • An invention is an object, process, or technique which displays an element of novelty. An invention may sometimes be based on earlier developments, collaborations or ideas, and the process of invention requires at least the awareness that an existing concept or method can be modified or transformed into an invention. However, some inventions also represent a radical breakthrough in science or technology which extends the boundaries of human knowledge.

    • The classic definitions of innovation include:

      1. the process of making improvements by introducing something new

      2. the act of introducing something new: something newly introduced (The American Heritage Dictionary)

      3. the introduction of something new. (Merriam-Webster Online)

      4. a new idea, method or device. (Merriam-Webster Online)

      5. the successful exploitation of new ideas (Dept of Trade and Industry, UK)

      6. change that creates a new dimension of performance Peter Drucker (Hesselbein, 2002)

    • innovation is typically understood as the introduction of something new and useful, for example introducing new methods, techniques, or practices or new or altered products and services. One emerging approach is to use these other notions as the constituent elements of innovation as an action: Innovation occurs when someone uses an invention - or uses existing tools in a new way - to change how the world works, how people organize themselves, and how they conduct their lives.

  • Form (Lat. forma), in general, refers to the external shape, appearance, configuration of an object, in contrast to the matter or content or substance of which it is composed; thus a speech may contain excellent arguments (the matter may be good), whereas the style, grammar, arrangement (the form) may be bad. "Form is supposed to cover the shape or structure of the work; content its substance, meaning, ideas, or expressive effects."

  • The term fashion usually applies to a prevailing mode of expression, but quite often applies to a personal mode of expression that may or may not apply to all. Inherent in the term is the idea that the mode will change more quickly than the culture as a whole. The terms "fashionable" and "unfashionable" are employed to describe whether someone or something fits in with the current popular mode of expression. The term "fashion" is frequently used in a positive sense, as a synonym for glamour and style. In this sense, fashions are a sort of communal art, through which a culture examines its notions of beauty and goodness. The term "fashion" is also sometimes used in a negative sense, as a synonym for fads, trends, and materialism.

    One of the problems with the grouping of styles into genres is that it is a subjective process that has a lot to do with the individual's personal understanding.

    • Gestalt Therapy is a psychotherapy which focuses on here-and-now experience and personal responsibility. It was co-founded by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s-1950s.

      The objective of Gestalt Therapy, in addition to helping the client overcome symptoms, is to enable the her-him to become more fully and creatively alive and to be free from the blocks and unfinished issues which may diminish optimum satisfaction, fulfillment, and growth. Thus, it falls in the category of humanistic psychotherapies.

      Gestalt therapy (GT) has its roots in psychoanalysis. It was part of a continuum moving from the early work of Freud, to the later Freudian ego analysis, to Wilhelm Reich and his notion of character armor. To this was added the insights of academic gestalt psychology about perception, gestalt formation and the tendency of organisms to complete the incomplete gestalt, to form "wholes" in experience.

      There were additional influences from existentialism, particularly the I-thou relationship as it applies to therapy, and the notion of personal choice and responsibility.

Related article: Spirituality and Japanese Design Practise.
Related post: Fashion is contemporary mask magic.

AIGA’s United Nations consultative NGO status

The AIGA is an organisation I have great respect for. Aside from the following tidbit, they've also launched Design for Democracy:
Design for Democracy increases civic participation by making the experience clearer, more understandable, easier to accomplish and more trustworthy.

Design and social research professionals collaborate to enable compelling, efficient and trust-building experiences between government and the governed.

Follow this link to read the contributions of AIGA members to the American discussion on ballot design.

And from today’s AIGA Communiqué:
As previously reported, AIGA has received consultative non-governmental organization (NGO) status. The principal advantage of this status is to offer AIGA a chance to demonstrate that designers, as thoughtful, creative and resourceful professionals also have a place as citizens who can lead solutions in civil society. AIGA will be given an opportunity to comment on global issues being discussed in the United Nations and its subsidiary organizations. Most of these issues will fall in the social, economic, educational and cultural arenas.

This effort is seen as a critical contribution to several AIGA goals: to demonstrate the value of design thinking by doing valuable things; increase the global perspective of the profession; undertake socially responsible initiatives; and offer opportunities for designers to be viewed as leaders. AIGA will follow and comment on, as appropriate, the following committee agendas: aging, human rights, health, status of women, education, family, development, health and communications, HIV/AIDS, human settlements, indigenous cultures, mental health, narcotics and substance abuse, population and development, social development and sustainable development.

When an issue in any one of these areas comes up for consideration and where the design profession has a particular non-partisan point of view (e.g., the need for human-centered design solutions or the opportunity for clear and accessible information design to communicate across cultures), AIGA will submit succinct comments (usually not more the 500 words) or become involved in a conference proceeding. The AIGA board has authorized the filing of non-partisan comments that are consistent with design’s potential to advance the Millennium Development Goals of the UN or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In some cases, special task forces of members will be assembled to craft a response.

Some of the conferences or forums that AIGA, under this status, has been invited to participate in recently are: Roundtable on international environmental governance, Geneva; Forum on Health, Geneva; Challenges faced by the humanitarian relief community, Geneva; Africa Civil Society Forum, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; World Social Forum, Nairobi, Kenya; Internet Governance Forum, Geneva. AIGA would be represented at a conference only if we were prepared to be active or submit papers; in those cases, AIGA could be represented by a staff member, board member or an interested member from the design community at large. One forum that AIGA will seek to be represented in regularly is the World Summit on the Information Society.

28 January 2007

“If you have nothing to lose, you can only win”

Reading over Architectures of Control, I came across this very decent quote that I want to expound on over the course of this year with some of my own thoughts. From Karel Donk:
Today’s world, and indeed for a very very long time now, is structured in such a way where people are directed, if not forced, to become dependent. Dependent on the system, or dependent on others. When you do enough research, you will find that this is all by design. I won’t go into details in this post, but certainly will in the future. For now it’s enough to note that this is by design. The reason why things are set up in this way is of course to be able to control people and limit their freedoms. When people depend on you, you can manipulate them into behaving the way you want. Because they depend on you, they have little choice but to go along with anything you say because they fear losing what they get from you. By definition if someone depends on someone else, or something else, that person has something to lose.

Related post: You are the only enemy you will ever have.

Beautiful translation, from autistic to English

This is a fairly long video (8:35), and the opening 5 minutes in her language (which, as someone on YouTube says, sounds like Sigur Rós) may fascinate you or weird you out, but hang on until 5:20 when she starts her translation. Another excerpt:

"Far from being purposeless, the way that I move is an ongoing response to what is going around me. Ironically, the way that I move when responding to everything around me is described as being in a world of my own. Whereas if I interact with a much more limited set of responses and only react to a much more limited part of my surroundings, people claim that I am opening up to true interaction with the world."

Her YouTube index of films is here. Her personal site is here.

This is a point where decades of chomskian linguistics research might be useful: if it's a genuine language it will have to reflect the universal grammar structure. When that has been identified start mapping it to a semantic representation.

If that's not possible it's not a language.

And from her blog:
I did that video “In My Language” that I posted recently. I’ve gotten some interesting responses.

Several people said their autistic children (and one non-autistic sibling) wanted to watch it over and over again. One of them had a son who never hums at all, but hummed the tune from the video all day after he watched it. Others hummed along too. The parents described their children’s reactions as interested, mesmerized, and transfixed.

This is a common reaction between autistic people, I’ve noticed. We do have ways of communicating with things around us that are mutually comprehensible for many of us (not all of us, and not all the same things are comprehensible, there seem to be groupings in that regard). Our interests and our reactions are not random, purposeless, or useless, and are certainly not ugly things to be hidden away or trained out of.

via MetaFilter

Sweden, first country with official embassy in Second Life

There are reports today that Sweden plans to open the first officially sanctioned embassy inside Second Life. Embassy officials won't be issuing visas or passports there, but they may just be wear rainbow codpieces when they offer you a Cyberian Angel Exotic Massage.

Link to Notes from Sweden blog post, here's a news article: Link.

via Boing Boing

27 January 2007

Albertans pay for Falun Gong body parts

I seriously don’t know why the Chinese government hate Falun Gong (and Tibet) so bloody much. Perhaps we should put them in a room with a room full of suburban Sunday Christians. But take some rich cowboys from Alberta to reap the benefits. Yay, Alberta! From Religion News Blog à la the Edmonton Sun:
An unknown number of wealthy Albertans have travelled to China to buy vital organs harvested from executed devotees of the outlawed Falun Gong movement, says former Edmonton MP David Kilgour.

And he wants the crimes against humanity to stop.

“There’s no doubt people are going from Edmonton and Calgary to China to get new kidneys or new livers,” Kilgour told the Sun yesterday.

He said many of the organs sell for up to $70,000.

“Only foreigners in places like Alberta can afford to pay for them.”

Kilgour, former secretary of state for the Asia-Pacific region, says he has travelled to more than 30 countries while investigating allegations that an underground network of Chinese surgeons, nurses and hospital administration staff are harvesting organs for sale.

“We call it a form of inhumanity,” he said.

Kilgour co-wrote a report on the alleged atrocities last summer with Winnipeg human rights lawyer David Matas.

The two, who spoke at a U of A forum last night on China’s illicit organ harvesting and transplant tourism industry, are set to release a revised report next week in Ottawa.

The new report reveals “a lot more proof” that this practice, which began about mid-2001, is still going on, Kilgour said.

The former Liberal cabinet minister said Albertans need to know that if they’re going to China for an organ transplant, the chances are the organ was taken from a Falun Gong practitioner who was jailed for his or her beliefs.

“These are not executed criminals,” Kilgour said.

Meanwhile, local devotees of Falun Gong are awaiting the results of a judicial review.

Yesterday, Matas and colleague Shirish Chotalia contested a Crown prosecutor’s decision to not proceed with charges against a group of Chinese diplomats.

The lawyers contend anti-Falun Gong booklets distributed in June 2004 by the Chinese consulate in Calgary constituted hate propaganda.

A written decision is expected within the next few months.

Edmonton Sun, via CNEWS, Canada
Jan. 26, 2007
Cary Castagna

David Lynch interview

Interviewed by Andy Battaglia

David Lynch is a unique filmmaker, and one of the most elusive artists in any field. He created his own strange, at times unutterable, language of film in a directorial career that started with 1977's Eraserhead and expanded to include The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Wild At Heart, The Straight Story, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Dr. He redefined what network TV might be capable of weathering with his series Twin Peaks. He put together a personal website full of art and video of him reading weather reports from outside his California house. Lynch's latest offering is Inland Empire, a bracing film that revisits Mulholland Dr.'s metaphysical math and carries it out a few extra decimal places. It was shot on digital video and has thus far been self-distributed — two distinctions that Lynch has described as profound changes to his method. The A.V. Club drank cappuccino and talked in rounds with Lynch when he was in New York for Inland Empire's première.

Read the interview here.
Thanks to Scott in Vancouver for the link.

EDIT — I forgot to mention, for those interested and long-awaiting, that Twin Peaks Season Two is being released to DVD on 3 April 2007! Finally. (Amazon.com or .ca.) Sorry Europe, no info on your territory as of this update.

Woman’s face visible from space

In southern Alberta, near Medicine Hat, this is available in the extremely hilly terrain. Check out the Google Maps.

Just an example of how we see what we're familiar with, what makes sense to us, even if it's just chance development by nature. However, I don't know that for sure. It may be the soul of some faerie queen who once ruled that region of Alberta and Saskatchewan, forever enshrined for her glory and beauty by the resident fauns and nymphs before mankind stopped believing in them and their existence faded from memory.

Thanks to Geekologie for the map link!

EDIT — This fellow went out to the actual site to take a few pics. Link.

25 January 2007

Identity 2.0 presentation by Dick Hardt

OSCON 2005 Keynote – Identity 2.0
Dick Hardt | Founder & CEO, Sxip Identity

Watch Dick deliver a compelling and dynamic introduction on Identity 2.0 and how the concept of digital identity is evolving.

“Dick Hardt is brilliant. Watch (and copy) the style. Learn tons from the substance.”
—Lawrence Lessig

“Really captures the complexities of participating in an online world and how identity is at the center of the Web experience.”
—Dan Farber

“A barn-burner of a presentation. I loved this.”
—Cory Doctorow

“I watched it twice, and greatly enjoyed it both times.”
—Jon Udell

Ten Things to Ponder for 2007

My mother forwarded me this email:
10. Life is sexually transmitted.

9. Good health is merely the slowest rate at which one can die.

8. Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich.

7. Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks.

6. Some people are like a slinky... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

5. Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital dying of nothing.

4. All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

3. Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars, and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents?

2. In the 60's, people took LSD to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.


We know exactly where one cow with mad-cow-disease is located among the millions and millions of cows in America, but we haven't a clue as to where thousands of Illegal immigrants and Terrorists are located.
Maybe we should put the Department of Agriculture in charge of immigration.

23 January 2007

43,000 Americans a year will die

Check out D.C. Simpson's I Drew This.
James, these are for you, buddy.

22 January 2007

Occulterati #7: Technocculterati

Occulterati #7: Technocculterati
Klint Finley and Don Eglinski join us to celebrate the anniversary of Technoccult, sacrifice live chickens.

Duration :: 00:28:36
Download :: MP3 (32.730MB)
Hosts :: Brenden Simpson, Wu

powered by ODEO

“Volume,” by United Visual Artists

V&A and PlayStation present Volume, created by United Visual Artists and onepointsix as part of the PlayStation Season.

A luminous interactive installation has transformed the V&A’s John Madejski Garden this winter. Volume is a sculpture of light and sound, an array of light columns positioned dramatically in the centre of the garden.

Volume responds spectacularly to human movement, creating a series of audio-visual experiences. Step inside and see your actions at play with the energy fields throughout the space, triggering a brilliant display of light and sound.

United Visual Artists' approach combines three disciplines: art direction, production design and software engineering. Our philosophy is to tightly integrate these elements to deliver real-time, immersive and responsive experiences.

We work equally with LED, traditional lighting and projection technologies as sculptural elements; our bespoke software approach allows us to use existing technologies in new and unusual ways.

We aim to work on a diverse and expanding range of projects, drawn from the commercial and non-commercial arenas, and to collaborate with a wide range of artists and companies.

Please check www.uva.co.uk for past projects & news.

How easily others affect our perception (of sexy-yum)

This BPS Research Digest post shows that context affects how attractive we find others before we even know them:
It seems beauty isn’t all in the eye of the beholder after all. Researchers have shown women rate a man as more attractive after they’ve seen another woman smiling at him. By contrast, being a jealous bunch, male observers rate a man as less attractive after they’ve seen a woman smiling at him.

Benedict Jones and colleagues at Aberdeen University’s Face Research Laboratory first asked 28 women and 28 men to rate the attractiveness of several pairs of male faces. Next they were shown the same pairs again, except this time one face in each pair was shown with a woman’s face staring at it from the side, either with a smiling or neutral expression. When the participants then rated the male faces for a second time, their ratings had changed for those male faces that had been stared at by a woman.

Female participants rated a male face as more attractive after it had been stared at by a smiling woman, but less attractive if a woman with a neutral expression had stared at it. By contrast, the male participants showed the opposite pattern, tending to rate a male face as less attractive after they’d seen a smiling woman looking at it.

The researchers said this shows our preference for a man’s face is affected by social cues we pick up from how other people look at him. Apparently a similar phenomenon occurs in the animal kingdom — for example female zebra finches prefer a male who they’ve previously seen paired with another female.

This reflects the fourth rule of seduction purported by Robert Greene in his Art of Seduction (which I've sumarised here for ease of reference):
Appear to be an Object of Desire
Create Triangles

Few are drawn to the person whom others avoid or neglect; people gather around those who have already attracted interest. We want what other people want. To draw your victims closer and make them hungry to possess you, you must create an aura of desirability — of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for them to be the preferred object of your attention, to win you away from a crowd of admirers. Manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding yourself with members of the opposite sex — friends, former lovers, present suitors. Create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise your value. Build a reputation that precedes you: if many have succumbed to your charms, there must be a reason.

For more information, check out:
Jones, B.C., DeBruine, L.M., Little, A.C., Burriss, R.P. & Feinburg, D.R. (2007). Social transmission of face preferences among humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, published online (open access).