Saturday, 29 December 2007

On My Sister's 20th Birthday

It's my sister Lmo's 20th birthday today.

20 years we've been together, good and bad. I'm glad I never succeeding in getting rid of her when we were young, and I'm sad I wasn't always there, but in all I am happy we are where we are today.

She's applying for universities this year. Queen Mary's have already accepted her, and we're waiting to hear back from Sydney Sussex. She has an interview at York after the new year. I am very proud of her. Not just because she gets good grades and can decipher poetry like nobody's beeswax. I'm proud because she's my sister and I love her, and she always attacks any job or challenge with an insane vigour that I don't possess but do admire.

Having been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancell th' old.

In heaven at his manour I him sought:
They told me there, that he was lately gone
About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.

I straight return'd, and knowing his great birth,
Sought him accordingly in great resorts;
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts:
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth

Of theeves and murderers: there I him espied,
Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, & died.

We are terribly different - she's competitive and sharp, I'm quasi-apathetic and ponderous - but we share the same sense of humour. I think that twenty years of laughing together keeps us close.

So indeed! Happy Birthday Lmo! I love you dearly, and plan on causing trouble with you for a long time to come.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Very Polite Spam

I'm glad to see spammers are starting to follow a more subtle sense of decorum.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Eavesdropping = Moral Equality

I was on the train yesterday evening, coming home to my tiny Georgian Surrey firetrap, eavesdropping on the other passengers, as my iPod was drained. I quite enjoy eavesdropping, because I i; feel like a spy, ii; learn stuff about strangers. It's amazing what people will tell other people aloud on the train. Loose lips sink ships, and all that. Anyway. This was an asian man named Abdul, who had studied Forensic Science and now worked for a Pharmaceutical Company in London. He was 27, his birthday was the first of December, he knew humpty million languages because his father was a translator and thought it was important. He apparently didn't believe in working for money, but for happiness - but he was very career driven, never the less. All this I learned through him chatting up a 19 year old Polish au pair named Tasha whose birthday is, so she said, today - the 18th. Happy birthday! The age part was funny -- when he learned, there was a palpable awkward silence, and he gave a very good impression of being embarrassed. Beautiful.

This isn't the point, though. Though eavesdropping, I learned also that pharmaceutical company's have been outsourcing their human clinical trails to eastern europe, because they are more cost effective. It got me thinking, whether or not it was ethical for pharmaceutical company's to offer a financial incentive to the poor to be tested on in eastern europe? While it could help give economic sustainability to a region, could it also cause a conflict of interest between local commerce/government and the human test subjects? If the subjects were mistreated or manipulated by the pharmaceutical company, would local government have enough pushing power to fight back and get subjects what they deserve -- or, with the pharmaceutical company's economic contribution to the region, could local government be tempted to ignore the complaints of a few subjects, if it meant many others were still being paid and channeling that money into the local economy?

I was going to join a clinical trial last summer in London, but I was discouraged by family, because they are fearful souls. It would have been £4k for three weeks of my time, but alas, my dreams of escaping my ever growing student debt will have to utilise something other than medical science. While I know the incentive for me was financial -- as well as medical curiosity -- I had the luxury of knowing that I didn't totally depend on medical clinical trials as the only way of getting money. It would have been a fast and easy way, be it high risk, but much less high risk than, say, robbing a bank or selling cocaine to stock brokers.

Now there's an idea... Blah. So, I am trying to get into writing my essay. It's not working. I still only vaguely know what I am looking at for specifics, although I have about 9 books out. The question:

How liberating is the notion of the cyborg? Is the 'posthuman' a desirable future?

For me? Fuck yes. I am a cyborg already -- a transatlantic gender-nutral culturally ambiguous technophile who doesn't have to fetishise technology any longer, as it is so smoothly integrated into my being. Liberation of the cyborg will be an acceptance of miscellaneous and hybrid beings with cultural and moral autonomy. We have so much 'rubbish' DNA within our bodies, it is just there for the ride - and we very well could be nothing more than temporal vehicles for DNA -- but the notion is, we are not pure. There is no fundamental human nature in the rigid yet delicate sense that Francis Fukuyama rants and raves about. It could be that our fundamental human nature is the will to change our environments to suit us, while retaining the ability to adapt to our environments themselves. Or not. It doesn't really matter.

But as for the posthuman being a desirable future... What is desirable? To be free from suffering is a novel concept, but I think it would be most impossible -- our ability to daydream and imagine keeps us with fresh suffering all the time. But to have more freedom to choose or adapt the physical bodies we exist in while on Earth, while offering every human being the same opportunities to remove the biological constraints which we live within now, that certainly seems desirable to me.

There are pigeons in my chimney cooing wistfully. I've got to get some work done, as my chum E should be hanging out with me later. It is then that I will eat bad homemade Mexican food, and watch The Wire for the first time - and attempt to force him into conversations over what superpowers he'd have, why he insists on refusing to have a superpower, and how the answers to thrash lyrics like 'ego stroker / shit eater / self serving unreality / gutted cavity of / pixelated futility / human flesh disconnect / get the fuck off the internet' are all within the Birth of Tragedy.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Moar Interactivez

Hey, look! I made that!

What that is, in it's poor quality you-tube uploaded glory, is a recording of me messing about with my designed digital cellular mirror. Mm, delicious DV & youtube compression has gotten rid of the crispness of pixels and colour that flood the screen, but what's really important is to focus on the tempo of tonal shifts and distortion. Mimics heartbeats! Or it does, in theory...

I can't sleep. Blah!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Interactive Works

Oh how I enjoy working with MaxMSP.
Currently I'm making a digitalised cellular mirror.
Look at how happy it makes me.

If anybody was thinking about an xmas gift, the $35 for student 9 month package of MaxMSP/Jitter wouldn't go amiss...

Begging aside, I've been doing nothing but making Max patches, drinking coffee, and listening to hardcore/pop-punk for hours upon hours.

I really hate how there are hemp seeds in my salad seed mix.
Avocado skins taste like the smell of dried blood, which is beyond gross.

Blah, blah, blah.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Wednesday, 28 November 2007



Things are dull. The sky is grey and I've been working on gathering up research materials for an upcoming essay. ''Is the Posthuman a desirable future? Morality & Transhumanism''.

I've been reading:

The Birth of Tragedy
Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution
Nicomachean Ethics
The Cyborg Handbook
Poetry, Language, Thought
Pattern Recognition
Smoke and Mirrors


Outside my little third story 16th century apartment-house, whose construction lends itself perfectly to my worry-fantasy of a cholera epidemic incubator, there is a extremely expensive extremely middle-class mock-French patisserie/boulangerie. A single store in a UK-wide franchise.

The bread and tiny cakes are Delicious, but not in the same way that they are in France. Maybe it's the water. Maybe it's the grain. The people who work there are all tall, slim and clean cut. There is a Japanese woman who speaks perfect accented English, and a red haired smiling Northern fellow and another woman who does not smile. They will correct your pronunciation. Perhaps 6 or more additional people work there. It seems excessive. How many workers are required to tie delicious cakes up in ribbons?

They do not actually make bread and cakes there. Many mornings I am awoken from my third story room to the sound of deliveries happening in the alleyway that keeps our buildings apart. Sometimes it sounds like the world is falling down, and I hide under my comforter so I don't have to see the grey bowl of sky outside the window. On sundays they throw out the delicious breads, wrapped in plastic and placed within a paper bag then placed within the hard plastic square of the skip. On mondays they throw out the delicious cakes.

Three weeks of me living in the little third story 16th century apartment-house, observing the mock-French workers working outside my window, attempting to hear the scurry of rats at night and discovering none, and I started waking up early Monday and Tuesday mornings to pertain deliciousness with my housemate, the ageless-but-young Anglo-Italian girl with mild Aspergers who makes miniatures of sustainable buildings with total devotion. We eat cakes and talk about ancient Egyptian emperors and soy beans.

People seem content to buy from them, to get wrapped up like their cakes within the ribbons of supposed French-ness. English bakery's aren't as important as French ones, apparently, so they get away with charging £2.75 for a macaroon. It's a bit like Disney land. It's not a real castle, it's not a real bakery - nothing is baked there and nothing is French. Total simulacrum. We eat it all up. Eating fake French bread from a skip is no less delicious, but it certainly lacks the spectacle of sophistication.

Monday, 5 November 2007



Reading a book the other day -- it may have been Sexual/Textual Politics, or an introduction preceding one of Lacan's seminars in a literary criticism reader, that was speaking about Language and what it means to us. It was describing language as the processes of not describing what is, but on describing what is not.

You and I can speak of a polar bear on the moon drinking ice tea with the Princess of the Amazon, and we can piece together a picture. Pretty elemental stuff.

So I finished reading I Robot in one day, and paused to dwell it over in my 03:33 insomnia, and thought about the Machines. I don't know if I got it. Human beings are always sad and in crisis - we are hardly never content. What separates us from other mammals is our Language, which is essentially our imagination - our mental timeline.

Shit. I read an excellent abstract of an scientific paper a year+ ago, which was arguing that consciousness can be defined by human beings ability to mentally conjure the future and the past as well as the now. It's written down in a sketchbook from last year. I must investigate this further.

Back to our imagination -- our great gift, I suppose. We can create, make things, theorise and express abstract metaphysical ideas. We can imagine that utopia -- and in doing so, we are constantly striving -- but unlike ants or bees or other social insects, we do not have a chemically suggested mass goal. Where is our altruistic swarm theory mechanism? Instead we all constantly strive not as a mass human body, but as individuals working perhaps in tiny groups - clashing with others, causing conflicts of interests.

And our personal ideas of Utopia, our imagining how things could be improved, keeps us all sad. Often our lives do not live up to our imaginations, and the longing that helps us create and also stop us from improving at all. Sadness, depression and apathy all from imagination.

If I was a better person, I'd of read Proust by now -- but I haven't. All I have is snippets from Monty Python, Thomas and films. Did he really say that the years he spent suffering were the most important? I can't agree with that for face value, but I wonder about the cause of suffering (our imagination & future/past sight causing longing/anguish & creativity) as being what is most important to consider in being human.

I'm just not sure.

Humans are malicious.


When I was 11 or 12 I knew this girl. Virginia. My friends and I once misread her name as Vagina and got hysterical. We were probably very mean, in fact I know we were. She was odd looking and acting, which isn't saying much - as I was odd looking and acting, but worse I was judgemental in that typical adolescent girl assimilating herself within the group sort of way. Her eyes were big and she had curly blonde hair. I can't remember anything she liked; I just remember that thick plastic tag on her Jan Sport backpack, hanging in the coat room, spelling out her name in big multicoloured letters. She stole stuff, now that I think of it, from that coat room. $20 from that kid Brian Macaulay's bag, or maybe it was that tall blonde kid that looked like a Viking and laughed at me once when I got pastry dough on my t-shirt when we were cooking pies for an apple-harvest celebration. I can't remember. Virginia had it rough. She was a rich kid whose mother made crafts in their kitchen and sold at local fairs, and whose father did something or another I never cared much about. Someone once called her wide-load, Max Morningstar I think, and she got all upset and I did nothing because I didn't care. She wasn't even fat, she was just big. Once I had a dream where she, myself, and my friends were all walking down the road in Wellesley Massachusetts. There was this big pickup truck with some weird guy who asked if we needed a ride. We all had wet feet, or missing shoes. Myself and my friends said no, but Virginia jumped on inside and they drove off. Somehow, although I was no there, I knew there was some awful altercation going on in the truck with Virginia and the weird guy. Although I remember it as a dream, I can't be too sure that it wasn't a story that I was told happened to her. I don't think it happened. The last time I saw her I was 13 or 14 - she had been kicked out or had left school, for stealing from people or something. I was in a Star Wars flight simulator at the local cinema, cackling wildly with my sister Leah as we were jerked around in this mass of plastic on hydraulic gears. Virginia and her friends were near by. She must have said something to them about us, because they were calling out our names in some attempt to start a fight, and we didn't really notice over the din of simulated pod racers. Once it stopped, we saw a sheepish looking Virginia tugging a friend by the sleeve, while the others were glaring at us. I couldn't think why they were all so malicious, until Leah and I got more quarters for the other grand prix game, and I remembered laughing at her name tag hanging in the coat room.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Transatlantic New Romantic


Sometimes I can't tell if there is some big joke in England where you tell people who've left the country and return ten years later, that you don't carve pumpkins on Halloween - you carve turnips.

It could be that they're all lying to me.


Upon returning home last night, I discovered that somebody had put a vinyl copy of Kings of the Wild Frontier on my bed, covering up my school books. I promptly started to laugh, then wondered how chic it'd be of me if I threw up out of my window. Three stories makes for some interesting splatter patterns, I reckon.


I'm upset because my friend Kia is upset. Tenth of May - we're cosmic twins, of epic proportions. When boys hurt your friends feelings after asking you to help with their web design course work, is it okay to put a secret message in with their encryption applet? Ikq hnf gqlowbx pfqb) becomes You are fucking mean. I didn't want to write the source code, but now that there's a real incentive...


When you're presented with a chart of project objectives for the next two weeks, which include your roles and the roles of your group members in colour coded glory, you remember why it's awesome to have a friend with OCD and severe performance anxiety. It makes for some stylish organizational tools.

Everybody needs a Hermoine.


Tuesday, 2 October 2007

How many roads...

Right now I am moving at dial-up speeds, attempting to get together (to get her together) a bunch of resources for my co-leck-shun, and it's doing my head in, as it were, so let me stop and ponder something else.

Frank's got me thinking, which is always nice. So here I am asking myself, what is childhood in the 21st century?

Heavy words, I know. But with boys being tried as men, and the many opportunities for girls these days, the question is heavy on my mind.

One way of looking at the way we treat children in contemporary Western society could be looking at the trends of what children want as consumers. I mean, that's how we define adults -- it can't be that different, can it? No certainly not.

Game consoles, iPods and media players, cell phones, CDs and DVDs, computers and laptops, video games, televisions and DVD players, cameras... We are children of the easily accessible technology boom, where inexpensive electronics run plentiful - we might not know why it may have happened, but we know we want to be involved.

Like Victorians dressing their children as little Lady's and Gentlemen, are the trends in adult consumption of objects passed onto their children without care for their age? Perhaps consumerism, or more graciously, a love for technology, is an ageless trait. We grow up surrounded by media objects saturated in our environments - monkey see, monkey want.

There are times where I feel for many adolescents, childhood vanishes very quickly - the lines blur drastically, and as a person becomes aware of their environment and the way they effect their environment, they cease to be a child. Maybe? Maybe.

Some people, who will remain nameless to curb their already bountiful traffic, have said that today's young people harbour incredible vanity and narcissism, to such an extent that it may be actually harmful towards their development. Is this just the mirroring of their elders, or the experimentation with super-accessible media outelts? The late 20th century saw an overabundance of self indulgent narcissistic behaviour - the birth of the Star - it would only seem logical that Its offspring would be that of the Nathan Barley's and the Scene Queens.

UK society is one which is growing ever more surveillance orientated -- we're watched on cameras on tube stations and buses, in Tesco's parking lots and shopping mall floors, the foyers of night clubs and the entrances of their bathrooms, quads of colleges and 6th form hallways. Video cameras are conveniently integrated within cell phones, digital cameras and laptops. YouTube, MySpace, Buzznet, Facebook, Flickr and a myriad of other sites offer virtual communication and media sharing, letting users literally edit, format and present their lives like publishers presented features in magazines when they were still important.

With so much of ones life being recording - both passively (CCTV) and purposefully (YouTube), there is no escaping the Awareness of being. Somewhere along the way, though, it gets hyper-saturated -- being isn't enough, and it's thought it's better to Be Something, Be Known, Be Seen (Scene?).

Cultural snow machines, when natural winter isn't producing enough to cover the slopes.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Google Ads Loves All Its Children

Doing the good ol' vanity search on Technorati, I came across a blog linking to my roundup of links regarding bacteria. I won't link to them, for the sole reason that they are a site whose main focus is in drawing ad-link clicks, disguised under a thin veil of fashion content. At first glance, with the clean and pleasing interface and fancy quotation marks, one is drawn in with a feeling that perhaps the blog is maintained by a quote hungry fashion student. Then when one looks at the 80 posts written so far in September, you start to notice things like, well...

Spam, of course - for ads. That's not entirely offensive, although certainly in bad taste -- but I am always fascinated by the levels of bad taste that are reached through odd, and traditional techniques. Cut up spam messages some times strike me as so horribly wonderful that I save them and keep them for later - because somehow in the mad frenzy to sell me vicodin, valium and viagra, the random string of words sets off this chain reaction within me to find meaning within the passages, and consider the possible symbolic significance within them -- even though I know they are impossible gibberish, or generated randomly.

Looking at the spam splattered across the ad-blog, I get this dystopian shudder of a world of content controlled by machines, who cannot fathom the meaning of the work they produce. Today I was digging on Technorati to find information on 'big apple cake'.. And this is one of the first results I found: quote quote. I tried several more searches on 'big apple cake' but after 10 minutes I got tired, gave up and posted this entry to 'Big Cakes'. Still, I think it was an interesting time. A cornucopia of meaninglessness, to reel in mouse clicks -- production under false pretenses, which wouldn't be so offensive to me, only there is the sense of banality surrounding the whole ordeal which makes me grit my teeth.

I think it might be a niggling feeling that, if I was to presume that human beings sense of consciousness is an evolutionary accident, purely a function created so as to avoid getting mauled by lions on an open savanna, we are in a sense like blog fogger used to generate ad-clicks. Perhaps al the meaning we try to install in the languages we use, aural and visual, is ultimately meaningless gibberish. Like the spam generators compiling these linked blog entries next to their lines of ads, we cannot fathom the ultimate meaning of the life-content we produce.

The utopian side of me -- which is for the moment stronger them my dystopian side -- tells me that the very realisation of our lack of understanding ultimate meaning, or the possibility of ultimate meaning not existing outside our consideration for it, facilitates understanding of self-meaning, thus validates the, er, validity of our thinking and attempting to create meaning in the first place. Ultimately, the quest for meaning is meaningless and impossible on a grand scale -- the much more interesting aspect to me, is the thinking about meaning in the first place.

Regardless of my gibberish (which is only slightly more evolved than that of spam...), I start to wonder if the ongoing research in AI leading potentially to synthetic intelligence, will allow for a wider context of meaning. What creates meaning? Or value? Can we make a machine understand meaning, and if we could, would it be ethical for us to force meaning upon that machine?

I am faced with the argument of meaning/value every day at school - internally from within my course, and externally from other factions at my University. A machine can be made to produce a painting in the style of Pollock, but why is one worth a substantially large amount more than another? Meaning we invest in the artist, not the work itself? I'm not sure. Film and fine art students tell me digital medium (my medium of choice!) is less valid, because I am working in a less tangible way - not with the physics of light to film, not with the chemistry of paint to canvas, but the mathematics of binary which have been dressed up fancy with coding and packaged into aesthetic GUIs. We are still in such a position where our physical counterparts, two party interaction between body and objects, are considered pivotal to creating meaning.

When you record a scene in digital format, there are three parties -- the object, the virtual representation, and yourself. In Photoshop, there is the compiled image, the virtual image, and yourself. In synthesised music - the sound, the virtual sound, yourself... Writing on a computer is an illusion of writing - the reality is the words I see are symbolically there, but that doesn't take away from their meaning -- because of the human interaction.

Which makes me feel obliged as a Human to expand my own understanding of general context, connections between things and possibilities things have in relation to one another. If context equals meaning, it might be the thing separating me from being generated spam.

Monday, 24 September 2007

I'm A Single Cell On A Serpents Tongue

The female Beewolf Wasp cultivates bacteria within her antenna, which in turn protect young Beewolf larvae from fungal infection. Cosmos Magazine, April 07

An introductory primer to cultivating bacteria, or; Nutrition and Growth of Bacteria, a practical walkthrough. Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Bacteriology.

We are rockers, we rock out -- some bacteria love heavy metal, and S. oneidensis get a taste for toxic waste. I guess you could call it cultivating alternative culture? PLoS Biology - Liza Gross, 06.

Bacteriophages in micro-reconnoissance. Nanotechnology detects bacteria, and produces to beat the shit ions out of it for our viewing pleasure. Welcome Trust, citing Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry, March 05

Does Science sell more headlines when it's openly aggressive? Killer clothing destroys Bacteria & Fungi, by attracting negatively charged bacteria/fungi and impaling themselves on a dagger of hydrogen atoms. Unsurprisingly, research funded by the US Army for the Institute of Soldiering Nanotechnology at the MIT. AZoNano, citing Advantage Magazine, Feb 04

Nanotechnology in fashion - student Olivia Ong designed clothes using fabrics that are antibacterial, air-purifying and still, amazingly, rather old looking without any sense of hopeful modernity. Great concept, poor draping, so sad. At $10,000 per square yard, I wonder if the US Army funded the professor and researcher in charge of the textile design. Cornell Conical, May 07.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Flickr & Fairy Cakes

Man, what a drag. I just tried to access my Flickr account, only to find there's no place to log in using the Olde Tyme log-in information - only Yahoo's info. I reckon the last time I used Flickr was around May - but I wanted to change that. Only now I can't log in, and I don't know how to access my old profile and old photos, because Yahoo help as as navigable as driving a phone book in a vat of caramel. Oh wells. I'll get that sorted out later...

I had to do a Mega-Wipe of my Mac, and reinstall OSX again. Woeful, certainly -- all that lost data that had somehow become inaccessible in its partition due to some unknown reason, i.e. my incompetence at backups and the spooky secret flaws of 10.4.10. Note: in 10.4.10 I will be 23 years and 11 months old and out of Uni for a year. Wild.

With the great Information Cleanse of 2007, I lost all my neato additional programs - from nice open stuff like Atlantis (Mu* platform), and nice not-so-open stuff like Photoshop CS. That makes me saddish -- it means I must venture out into the great beyond and find another copy hidden someplace.

I've been looking at open graphics software, such as Xara Xtreme (dudes, poor name choice -- are you making graphics or porn?) - which looks promising, but they're not yet up on OSX due to their lack of Mac developers, which is a drag. GIMP is an obvious choice, and although I have been aware of it for a while now, I am wary of it because... Well, it seems complicated - not as a software itself, but the process to get it running on OSX. Typing that out, I realise what a lame ass excuse that is. Am I really that lame? Apparently. In addition I should note I've been scoping out Ogre 3D, which as the name may suggest, renders 3D graphics.


Noting my own lame-ility, I am setting myself a challenge of sorts.
I am going to stop being a lame ass fairy cake, and install GIMP, and use it on a trial period. I will approach it with the open, all caring acceptance of an optimist, and not be too swift to judge it against Adobe's humpty-kagillion pound package bundles. Maybe I will stop being a lame ass fairy cake.

In addition, over the next few weeks I will be putting together things for my side-blog, lets call it Art & Movement (working title) -- it won't have these blah-blah entries, but rather a collection of sound, images and video which I think are relevant and aesthetically engaging and relate or clash with the work I am doing. Hell, maybe sometimes I'll include my own work -- Science knows I've been keeping everybody in the dark about whatever it is that I do.

Of course... I'm not so sure I want it to be on blogger. I would be more comfortable being situated somewhere independent, where I had more control over layout. Anybody got any Hosting space? I'm good for the deposit, I swear! (You take fairy cakes, right?)

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Prince is an ancient term // Modern Modernist

Prince is planning on suing YouTube over 'unauthorised' use his music, in an attempt to reclaim his art on the internet (Reuters). He has already caused a stir with music retailers over the distribution of his new album in the UK through the UK newspaper the Mail (Guardian).

From the Guardian:
It's all about giving music for the masses and [Prince] believes in spreading the music he produces to as many people as possible.

Hmm. Am I sensing a little hypocritical tendencies -- or is this man sick of being formally known? I am all aware of any publicity being good publicity, and this claim of a lawsuit has that particular stench of sensationalism I am not keen on.

Are people afraid of new media -- or are they afraid of media whose producers they cannot control? As John Giacobbi said in the Reuters article, they may have taken off 2,000 Prince videos from YouTube, but even when they get that number to 0, the nature of the site allows for users to re-upload and replace those videos as quickly as they are taken down.

As many of you know, the nature of my studies keeps me focused on emerging media technologies, and I have a particular fondness of YouTube and online social networks which cater to communicating media in all forms. It cannot be denied that with YouTube, as MySpace[ship] and DeviantArt and other such sites, one of the most charismatic aspects is the ability to share and promote creative works to a large number of people - both socially and commercially.

I hate to think Prince wants his music videos - be they official or fan created - off of YouTube because he is too old to understand the value of such new media forums. Perhaps it's more accurate for me to say that he is in fact old-fashioned, rather than just an old fogy.

Even some of my most beloved lecturers still have difficulty understanding and accepting spaces like YouTube, Facebook, etc -- to many they are considered limited to social-only situations, or considered naive spaces for juveniles. On my best days I believe sites like them are exciting modern-day salons, and on my worst an epic waste of time. Convincing people that the global village social and media networking sites are more than what they seem is an epic task at times - the virtuality of the spaces seems to lead people who are outside the Internet that they are somehow Less Real than traditional physical realms of galleries, Universities and record company coffee rooms.

All my friends are on the Internet.
Does that make them any less real?
The ones I once knew in MeatSpace seem so much further away.


In Other News: I am trying to get back into the stride of things, which is partially why I have been silent. University, and my upcoming Class of 2009 Status is making me worried. There is never enough time in the world, not when I am watching every episode of Heroes season 1 in three days. I have a theoretical hard on for Peter Petrelli - and I am depressed not because he's a fictional character in a fictional universe, but that he's effectively a huge faggy Mary-Sue and huge fucking Twink -- and I am not talking gay slang here people. I'm talking gamer.

Oh. Also. I gave up Mu*ing because I had no time this summer, and I am feeling bittersweet about it. I have played online text based RPGs for ten years running, and letting go without tying off character strings has lead me to be quietly depressed. I stopped not because I found the game I was active in boring -- rather, I found it so interesting and so much fun, that I had to cut it out of my life due to the fact I was focusing so much creative energy in it's direction. While I know Mu*s have been a major influence in the way I command the English language, consider collective co-operitive narrative, and understand social networks (in the abstract sense!!!), I need time to focus on actively improving my programming, theoretical and, fundamentally, my real-life skill base.

That said, I feel like a Modernist giving away her collection of art history texts so I don't get bogged down with physical weight and mental distraction. The people and ideas I've been able to access because of the existence of Mu*s has been substantial. Without them I would have never been able to have these friends - be they virtual text representations of their physical counterparts - in Sweden, the Americas, Japan, Australia, and beyond. I may have never started studying Leibniz and theories of Metaphysics and Monadology. I may have never become interested in Hypermaths, mysticism, Papua New Guinea cargo tribes, Steampunk, nanotechnology, neurochemistry, Digitalism, linguistics as reality modifiers, the question of good and evil, Medieval social structures, and countless other pet interests of mine that have developed over time. All for the sake of convincingly playing a game that mimics a reality that will never happen.

If I could have a superpower... I don't know what it would be.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

nature vs nurture


I keep floating down the river but the ocean never comes
Since the operation I heard you're breathing just for one
Now everything is imaginary, especially what you love
You left another message, said it's done
It's done

When I hear beautiful music it's always from another time
Old friends I never visit, I remember what they're like
Standing on a doorstep full of nervous butterflies
Waiting to be asked to come inside
Just come inside

But I keep going out
I can't sleep next to a stranger when I'm coming down
It's 8 a.m., my heart is beating too loud
Too loud
Don't be so amazing or I'll miss you too much
I felt something that I had never touched
Everything gets smaller now the further that I go
Towards the mouth and the reunion of the known and the unknown
Consider yourself lucky if you think of it as home
You can move mountains with your misery if you don't
If you don't

It comes to me in fragments, even those still split in two
Under the leaves of that old lime tree I stood examining the fruit
Some were ripe and some were rotten, I felt naseous with the truth
There will never be a time more opportune

So I just won't be late
The window closes, shocks roll over in a tidal wave
And all the color drains out of the frame
So pleased with a daydream that now living is no good
I took off my shoes and walked into the woods
I felt lost and found with every step I took


Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
Such beauties and such feelings, as had been
Most sweet to have remembrance, even when age
Had dimm'd mine eyes to blindness! They, meanwhile,
Friends, whom I never more may meet again,
On springy heath, along the hilltop edge,
Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
To that still roaring dell, of which I told;
The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep,
And only speckled by the mid-day sun;
Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock
Flings arching like a bridge; —that branchless ash,
Unsunn'd and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves
Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still,
Fann'd by the water-fall! and there my friends
Behold the dark green file of long lank weeds,
That all at once (a most fantastic sight!)
Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge
Of the blue clay-stone.

Now my friends emerge
Beneath the wide wide Heaven—and view again
The many-steepled tract magnificent
Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea,
With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up
The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles
Of purple shadow! Yes! they wander on
In gladness all; but thou, methinks, most glad,
My gentle-hearted Charles! For thou hast pined
And hunger'd after Nature, many a year,
In the great City pent, winning thy way 30
With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain
And strange calamity! Ah! slowly sink
Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun!
Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb,
Ye purple heath-flowers! richlier burn, ye clouds!
Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves!
And kindle, thou blue Ocean! So my friend,
Struck with deep joy, may stand, as I have stood,
Silent with swimming sense; yea, gazing round
On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem
Less gross than bodily; and of such hues
As veil the Almighty Spirit, when he makes
Spirits perceive his presence.

A delight
Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
As I myself were there! Nor in this bower,
This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd
Much that has sooth'd me. Pale beneath the blaze
Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch'd
Some broad and sunny leaf, and loved to see
The shadow of the leaf and stem above
Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut-tree
Was richly ting'd, and a deep radiance lay
Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps
Those fronting elms, and now with blackest mass
Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue
Through the late twilight: and though now the bat
Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters,
Yet still the solitary humble-bee
Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
That nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty! and sometimes
'Tis well to be bereft of promised good,
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
With lively joy the joys we cannot share.
My gentle-hearted Charles! when the last rook
Beat its straight path along the dusky air
Homewards, I blessed it! deeming its black wing
(Now a dim speck, now vanishing in light)
Had cross'd the mighty Orb's dilated glory
While thou stood'st gazing; or, when all was still,
Flew creaking o'er thy head, and had a charm
For thee, my gentle-hearted Charles, to whom
No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.


Here a Linden-tree stood, bright'ning
All adown its silver rind;
For, as some trees draw the lightning,
So this tree, unto my mind,
Drew to earth the blessed sunshine
From the sky where it was shrined


Vrei să pleci
dar nu mă nu mă iei
nu mă nu mă iei
nu mă nu mă nu mă iei
Chipul tău şi dragostea din tei
mi-amintesc de ochii tăi
You want to leave,
but you can't, you can't take me,
you can't, you can't take me,
you can't, you can't, you can't take me.
The image of your face and the love from linden trees
remind me of your eyes.


Pătrunză talanga
Al serii rece vânt,
Deasupră-mi teiul sfânt
Să-şi scuture creanga.
While softly rings
The wind its trembling chime
And over me the lime
Its blossom flings.


Am Brunnen vor dem Tore
Da steht ein Lindenbaum:
Ich träumt in seinem Schatten
So manchen süßen Traum.

Ich schnitt in seine Rinde
So manches liebe Wort;
Es zog in Freud und Leide
Zu ihm mich immer fort.

Ich mußt auch heute wandern
Vorbei in tiefer Nacht,
Da hab ich noch im Dunkel
Die Augen zugemacht.

Und seine Zweige rauschten,
Als riefen sie mir zu:
Komm her zu mir, Geselle,
Hier findst du deine Ruh!

Die kalten Winde bliesen
Mir grad ins Angesicht,
Der Hut flog mir vom Kopfe,
Ich wendete mich nicht.

Nun bin ich manche Stunde
Entfernt von jenem Ort,
Und immer hör ich´s rauschen:
Du fändest Ruhe dort!
At wellside, past the ramparts,
there stands a linden tree.
While sleeping in its shadow,
sweet dreams it sent to me.

And in its bark I chiseled
my messages of love:
My pleasures and my sorrows
were welcomed from above.

Today I had to pass it,
well in the depth of night -
and still, in all the darkness,
my eyes closed to its sight.

Its branches bent and rustled,
as if they called to me:
Come here, come here, companion,
your haven I shall be!

The icy winds were blowing,
straight in my face they ground.
The hat tore off my forehead.
I did not turn around.

Away I walked for hours
whence stands the linden tree,
and still I hear it whisp'ring:
You'll find your peace with me!


Under der linden
an der heide,
dâ unser zweier bette was,
dâ mugt ir vinden
schône beide
gebrochen bluomen unde gras.
vor dem wald in einem tal,
schône sanc diu nahtegal.
Under the lime tree
on the open field,
where we two had our bed,
you still can see
lovely both
broken flowers and grass.
On the edge of the woods in a vale,
sweetly sang the nightingale.



Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Don't Pull the Plug!

My MacBook Pro has officially fallen into a coma.

While the feeble flickering of a grey screen inspires hope, the unresponsive OSX load screen, with its calm steel blue background, offers little joy with its spinning colour wheel and empty, unmoving load bar. She wasn't even a year old.

Thank you, System Update 10.4.10 - you took my perfectly functioning and beloved machine, and virtually took a sledgehammer to its ankles. I'm worried that when I open my crippled machine in target disk mode later, I'm going to get VoiceOver shouting at me in a mechanical, Mid-West accent: He didn't get out of the COCK-A-DOODIE CAR!!!

10.4.10 is my number one fan.


I've been listening to a lot of Arcade Fire: and you should too.

Haiti and Une année sans lumiere, off of their first album, were also very good -- but I just like hearing beautiful songs in French; even if it's all, you know, Québécoise.


I'll note that I am, in part, pissed off that my computers coma is keeping me from my game platform, photography, art & film shorts (I had been compiling a movie on bubbles!), PDFs of countless miscellaneous information, folders of Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing and... The foundations of my entry into using Objective-C for Xcode. Sure; most of what I had written was notes, and most of what was saved was whatever freebee manuals I could get my hands on.

You see, my people; I want to make video games. Not FPS or RPGs; but mind games -- educational games for grown-ups, as it were. At the moment, I am obsessing over the creation of a word game - halfway between Bejewelled and Bookworm Adventures; speed spelling puzzle game. Ideally, I'd like to create it as a dashboard widget and expand from there but... Well, I have no practical programming experience.

Being the only girl in a remedial BTEC ND Software Development course allowed me to experience writing car rental schemes in VBA in Excel. They most likely could not have chosen a more banal way of introducing programming to apathetic North London hoodlums. I learned more about programming from Monadology than I did there. Regardless!

Naturally, I have to teach myself how to program -- when my sweet, sweet Uni grant comes in this September, I am investing in Programming in Objective-C by Stephen Kochan, which has been suggested as a good starting point for my dive into application development for Mac. Would the computer minded concur? Eventually I would like to move towards Cocoa, and then beyond...

But that's all a little besides the point at the moment, seeing as my machine refuses to even turn on; c'est le vie!

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Disconnection of Emotional and Intellectual Self

Le grand précieux

Lately I've been considering how I approach topics I cross in my ongoing 'academic' research. Last year during my film theory class, my much respected Greek visiting lecturer noted that I had a very 'romantically emotional' approach to deconstructing media we were given to analyse -- it was apparently an amusing notion to him and, subsequently my class mates, that my responses were heavily based on feelings I harboured towards the subjects at hand. Apparently I spoke in abstract prose rather than analytic or rational terms, I suppose. I didn't think much about it at the time, but as the new academic year approaches I've been reconsidering what that means.

I like to consider myself to be a thoughtful, rational person -- I like to consider the different ways of approaching subjects at hand. I know how I feel about topics personally and like to consider why I feel the way I do -- but with that, I also typically take the time to put myself in another persons perspective, as it were, and toy with the other vantage points to consider any given topic. Circumstances which alter views on things always enthrals me - different situations, possibilities, intentions on words...

Because I had never been sent to any traditional educational institutions until I enrolled in University, I have never had the opportunity to join a debate team. Oh how that saddens me at times! As I know it'd be an activity I could very well flourish within - having the opportunity to analyse a proposition and argue its points, be it for or against, regardless of the topic and how I personally felt about it. Certainly in my own views, I would be be labelled a liberal -- I am a democratic socialist who believes strongly (for the time being, HAH) in the pseudo-libertarian approach to self governing factions deciding on their own fates socially and politically. Pro-choice, anti-war-for-profit, ecologically-aware, marginally anti-capitalist fiscally...

Yet I am prone, as my stepfather so kindly pointed out earlier, to going wildly off topic. Or at lest digressing widely before reaching my main point.

Regardless of my political/social views, I can disconnect myself from them in sake of conversation and argument. Why? It's fucking fun!

But in an academic setting, when asked to discuss or analyse topics impromptu, I speak from the heart -- and I am aware now that on occasion, my passionate (always passionate) rants, excuse me!, deliverance of personal ideation can, or may be, viewed as horribly sophomoric. I really like how... When I saw this I felt... I love the part... -- how can that at all be considered objective? Is it even a bad thing that when I take to something, I take to it passionately -- or does that limit me to one viewpoint that is without exterior reference to keep things 'in check' as it were? I know one thing; being emotionally involved with the analysis of things heavily undermines an audiences ability to take what you say seriously - instead you come off as; A) like one of those religious preachers who refuse Science for pure faith, B) an airy fairy self involved vacuum-inhabiting poetry student from Wellesley College who refuses to read poetry that doesn't emotionally validate their life.

There is another aspect of this heart-felt analysis I do which irks me incessantly -- when I do not like a person/subject, I mean personally do not like them/it for whatever reason, it dramatically effects the way I approach their/the subject in discussion. This goes as far, in one example, as my creation an entirely factitious doctrine of why painting as an art form - abstract in particular - was a dead medium whose only subscribers would be economically secure idealists who overly romanticised a dead school of art purely to reside within its comfortably established boundaries and, thus, remove themselves from the daunting task of having to create a new and thus risky aesthetic which could potentially alienate them from their market.

Me? Asshole. Because, fuck, I like painters - both dead and contemporary. I just didn't personally like this one painter and wanted to plant a seed of doubt in regards to their abilities. Because I am, yes, an asshole.

See what happens when you can't engage in a debate club?

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Back from the land of Nod...

Yeah, so I've been away; have you missed me?

My MacBook has been acting up -- many applications will not load, it crashes randomly, etc -- I've been busy trying to fix it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Go fig.

It's okay though, because I've been training to deal with Apple tech support.

Intelligent words to come, I swear...

Sunday, 1 July 2007

How do we see things?

I got in an discussion of opposition over La Jetée (spoiler alart!) with one of my part-time lecturers earlier in the year. She was saying she thinks a film put together with a collection of still images somehow defeats the purpose of making a film.

She must have forgotten for a moment that film is a collection of still images. La Jetée just had less then say, 12 Monkey's, and more then Blue. Anyway.

Her dislike for the film sat poorly with me. I quite enjoyed it, myself, see - because I take special satisfaction in a good story. I am a narrative driven human being, I like verbal language, I like verbal communication; and while visual/audio stories also interest me, often times I am taking away by lazy, human language stories I can hear/read and understand in a comfortably subjective way. A rose is a rose is a rose. Hur hur, jokes for nerds.

Either or; I was recently watching a great House episode where (spoiler alert!) a patient loses their ability to see objects in motion. I knew I watched that show obsessively for a reason... So I started digging around, because I couldn't find the technical definition of blindness to objects in motion. Apparently, as far as I can find, there is no technical term -- it is rare, and associated with: seizures, strokes, and structural brain defects.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Come in with the milk. Come in with the milk. Come in with the milk...) has an interesting report about a patient who suffers from motion blindness after she had a stroke, but it's not too insightful, sadly - just a nice overview of the motion-processing system in our brains.

In my memories, I don't record motion -- I record the understanding of the presence of motion, the direction and knowledge it was there, the path the objects in motion took... Of course my memory is not a hundred percent photographic - and on top of that, my memory is mediocre at best. Yet I can visualise a trajectory and suchlike if I am thinking about something moving. Hmm...

So motion awareness is, to me, a fight-or-flight kind of evolutionary trait. I don't see what evidence that processing motion has for other things, save for right-now effects. A ball is getting thrown in your direction - the mind judges its speed, distance and direction of the ball, and that motion sense allows people with adequate ability to grab it - or get out of the way. Anyway.

While I was scuttling around for motion information, I passed across an example of the optical illusion of visual disappearance, or motion induced blindness, and a great applet that demonstrates the same thing. That's from a collection of other optical illusion demonstrations which I am particularly fond of -- they aren't as good, however, as my favourite still optical illusions in the whole entire world, developed by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor in the department of psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Japan.

Of course after half an hour of looking at all those, one does start to feel a little, queasy.

Regardless, I'll move back in time here... La Jetée, as a film on memory, fucked memory, and loss of sight (much like Blue...), does not need to be a film that is defined by the number of different frames per second. Memory is not motion, and fucked memory, that is the illusion of memory, false memory of events, is a lot like looking at one of Mr. Kitaoka's snake 'spirals' - we can so easily believe it's moving in one direction, when it's really standing still.

PSA on Cake Giving

Click for bigger image.

This is for Frank, who I thought might need some visual aids to distribute amongst his friends...

On Language

Dear Firefox;

I think you are really cool. Do you like me?
Please Check:
Yes No

Just, when I updated you yesterday, you told me you'd be more than you were before. So on the third time I shut a tab by mistake because of the new each-their-own tab-exiting button, I was okay with it - I'm clumsy, I should look where I point my cursor before clicking like some renegade information junkie.

Only, I notice you now check my spelling when I'm typing into field boxes. Oh. That's helpful. Just, baby, you... Know I'm in the UK.

So why are you giving me American English?

Baby, I don't roll like that.

I gotta get all up in your Help files, searching around for languages -- that doesn't give me the information I'm looking for, so I gotta cross reference over spell check options, then download a new driver and restart you up so my colours are honourable and my favourite version of English is synchronised adequately so I don't have to make any more enquiries...

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Links For This Hour

Lunch in a Box
I know my avid dislike for mommybloggers (sorry homies; nothing personal) stems from my post-adolescent interior revolt against my inner mother-complex, but I can gleefully look past the oh-so-cute bento lunch for Little Angel #192837 because I think, despite it's overly-attentive-to-juvenile-cuteness-ness, they all look fucking awesome, and I love tiny food. I have no beef (hur hur) with the blog. Just now I want galaktoboureko and octopus balls (hur hur).

Tori Amos: Yes Anastasia
I am not, in general, a big Tori Amos fan -- I like her, like her projected essence, but her music doesn't make me into an avoid fan-girl. When I was about eleven or twelve years old, I went to school with a girl named Laura Bogart who was 16 or so (anyone over 13 was 16 or so in my head at the time...) who was fucking obsessed with Tori, and so I think in a bid to distance myself from Laura, who was like a mother elephant defending her fandoms (she hated copy cats...), I never got too into the music. Anyway. Every now and then I get a hankering to listen to Yes Anastasia, and for hours at a time I'll listen to it on repeat. Today is one of those days. The video is not the original video, obviously, but it has a great photo montage of Anna Anderson Manahan aka the girl who said she was Anastasia Romanov. Beautiful.

Saint Stephen - via Wiki
Saint Stephen. I had to look him up earlier, in a bid to do writing where a character, when asked if he was stoned, replied as Saint Stephen. Bad, I know, I know. But the dude was pretty strange. I love reading the stories of Saints -- and more so, I love looking at iconography of saints themselves. The National Gallery has my favourite collection of paintings of Saints, some of which you can see in their online gallery. My favourite there is St. Sebastian by Honthorst. Like most paintings, the photo does not do it justice. I've spent hours standing in front of that painting, copying it in my sketch book to little avail. It's breathtaking. I yelled at a school marm ushering children through the gallery once when I was sketching it -- the noise of the children didn't bug me, but she was going shhhhhsh! shsssssh! like some sort of fucked kettle, and it made me get all rabidly anti-authority.

The Triptych Convention - report on pharmaceutical con.
I went looking for a picture of a mean faced orange cat and I got sent here. It's a visitors account of a convention in the Netherlands (in 2002), which goes on describe discussions and talks that were had on schizophrenia, drug use & similar. It's oddly humane, and an interesting insight into the way the psychiatric community communicate to each other. Also; as I am a (jack off) Jill-of-all-trades, I take a special interest in learning about psychiatric theory and suchlike. I am an information addict. Do you think that will be in DSM-V? The strangest line from the piece to me, was attributed to Richard Bentall, a professor of psychology at Manchester; he said: It is has been demonstrated that when a patient doesn’t benefit from one neuroleptic, he won’t benefit from any. The search for the right drug is senseless. How strange.


And that's a slice what I've been looking at in the past few hours.

Food Blogs are big on my list ATM, because I'm trying to figure out what the hell I should make for dinner. I won't deny it - I'm a real secret domestic, as much as I'd deny it in front of most people, I really like cooking. Like a lot. Last night? Made a cake. A banana cake with cream cheese coconut frosting. Because I could. I had a slice. It was awesome. My Asshat:Talent ratio is high enough where if I was rude to you, some of the cake would make you forget.

Monday, 25 June 2007

I'm Meeeeeelting!

Hey what's that?

Oh. It's my AC power pug for my Macbook; which for no reason got wicked fucking hot and melted.

Guess who's a little pissed off!
Me and a bunch of other people.

Jeneane, I know you just got a sweet new Mac -- you be sure you watch your cable!

Now, to call Apple...

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Exlax theory: the art of letting shit slide

I am moving out of my lodgings tomorrow. I've taken all my art off my walls, packed up all my books, and still only have some clothes to put away before I vacuum and get my sweet deposit back.

There is a slight problem of having nowhere to live yet, for this coming September when I return to school - but I refuse, completely refuse, to be worried about it. My body physically wants me to be worried; getting squiggly stomachs and thunking pressure headaches if I take too long to consider the fact that I'll be sleeping on the sofa in my fathers house, syphoning off wifi from the neighbours next door who, for some insane reason, turn their router off on occasion. Such cheek! I should write them a strongly worded letter on the matter...

My wifi theft aside (beloved internet; I cannot leave you!), this refusing to get upset thing is actually kind of awesome. It means I can, guilt free, watch the first season of House and drink hot cocoa while nibbling gingersnaps and listening to the rain. Later I'll organise my remaining packing, casually pile it all up, and consider what books I've got to keep out for my Must Read stack.

Refusing to get upset or worried. Talk about awesome. It's not like my old school attempt at avoiding problems all together. Oh no! Now I am aware that there will be things which will be difficult, such as packing or moving or organising myself - but instead of wanting to throw up out of self pity at my woeful aloneness in my life duties, I just deal with it and take it all in stride.

There must be some sort of chemical imbalance!
Is this what normal people feel like?

I blame this all on my dear beloved friend Vee, who I might go down to see on the Isle of Wight for a few days, come tomorrow. She is the queen of not letting shit bother her, in exchange for getting it done.

Now excuse me, compañeros, I've got some hot cocoa to brew.


Oh, and a PS: I've been living with my landlady and her daughter since last September, and never once have we gotten into a tiff, let alone a fight. She has been sane, normal, nice and welcoming - never creepy or weird. Should I get her some flowers and a big bar of chocolate or something for her daughter? What's the polite thing to do? I would buy her a bottle of wine, but she's a bit of a wine aficionado and I don't want to insult her pallet due to my own personal lack of fundage in attaining a fine vintage.

Where's Emily Post now?

Friday, 15 June 2007

Drink a Dink

I'm gonna stop being bitter for a second here and address some things.

Somebody's mother posted a bit ondodgy marketing and thus lead to a discussion on South African wine, which as you all fucking know, has been talked about by some awesome people all over the place on the 'tubes.

Which to me is refreshing. South Africa is... A blind spot for me. But this escalating conversation on ethics (of marking -> product -> production) has got me thinking about what I drink. My sister Lmo actually called me up from her work yesterday, where she pimps out rollin' e-class to old grannies up in the W1 to W4 baby babaah! Anyway. She calls me up, worried as hell, going Oh Christ J, is all South African wine bad? How am I supposed to know?

You see, Lmo, like many young women our age, is a wine drinker - ideally she goes for a nice, deep, oaky red - just typically she goes for the cheapest. Like us all! So now I'm all like, woah, she is right. How are we supposed to know when we buy our South African wine at the local Co-Op, if it's been watered with blood?

WIETA - or South African's Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association, has acode of ethics which many UK supermarket chains, including Tescos follow -- but... The code seems a little funny to me, because it seems very difficult to enforce. I don't know! How often is it checked?

There are a list of accredited and audited SA wine makers/fruit growers, which I don't see Stormhoek listed on -- but does WIETA not cover all the wine making regions? Or maybe Stormhoek is owned by somebody else? Maybe I'm missing the whole point, as my usual experience with wine is drinking something French and cheap, not making it or getting it passed by some ethics board.

I agree with what Golby said about Stormhoek -- if they want to be advertised by bloggers, as they are being right now (be it for the wrong reasons perhaps...) they should just open up and express now how cheap their wine is, but how it's made.

As somebody's mother always told me, when we were selling our warez on eBay so we could eat -- it's not the product that sells, it's the story.

Tell me the story of production, truthfully and without 'funny' cartoons, and you won't have to give me free bottles of cheap booze. I'll spend the £4.99 myself, if it means the dudes and dudettes planting, feeding, picking, washing, crushing, fermenting and bottling the stuff is getting a fair slice of that cash, rather then free bottles of cheap booze. Ya diiig?

Hell. Maybe I'd blog about it.

Comment on Comments

Blog homies:

It's come to my attention that my comments thing isn't working as perfectly as it should. I've changed around the settings now - you don't have to be a member of blogger to post - but you have to type in a word-verification now.

If it still doesn't work? Drop me a message at plasticmothATgmailDOTcom and I will send a very strongly worded letter to Blogger; which will include the term 'yo my bitches, what's up with that?'.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Respect My Authority

So I was in the middle of writing a cover letter for a PA job I saw listed in London, because low and behold, my student loan has almost run out and I need to eat 8p Tescos no wait, £5.99 Waitrose no wait, 59p Sainsbury's ramen noodles? Oh Christ -- with ethics like these, how can I even eat? I'm gonna become anorexic for the well being of the world. Or something.

Tangent over - anyway, I stopped writing because I suddenly had this sort of, epiphany about blogging;

Why is it that bloggers feel they are only justified in their existence, i.e. they are privy to achieve ''a-lister status'', if they are validated in an meatspace environment?

That is - why does a blogger, who rants about how their blogging is changing the way the world communicates and how blogging is the wave of the future and how we don't need all your stupid newspapers and television shows and book deals and radio appearances and magazine articles -- why do they feel the need to appear in aforementioned media devices, and flaunt the fact in their blogs? Why do they think they are given authority over other bloggers if their mad warez are flaunted in main stream mass media?

Oh the hypocrisy! Oh Southey! Oh Southey!

Like many women my age, when zefrank was at the height of his show, I watched with avid interest.

You know what interested me? Not only was he awesome, totally lacking in eyelashes, and smart - he also wasn't a douche bag! AMAZING! He never spoke about:

  • His work.
  • How awesome his work is.
  • Why his work makes him better then you.
  • Respectin' his authroataay.

  • Do the other asshats out there realise how important that is? Yeah, ze had advertisements and occasionally he would pimp those advertisements -- a brother's gotta get paid (that's just the way it is) -- but they were merely a fleeting gnat in the picnic of knowledge which he laid out in a delicious spread for the masses to feed upon.

    There are two types of blog followings that I have seen so far; there are the sycophants - the people who flock to people because they feel they can get recognition from them: links, comments, book deals, authority, mad props, etc. Then there are the others, I don't know what I would call them - ideologists maybe? Who flock to other blogs and people because they like sharing or attaining information, thoughts, links, etc, with no regard to personal gain or authority or notoriety.

    I'm uncomfortable with that analogy, or what have you, because it exists as a binary system -- which I, as a rule, typically don't follow. (There's no right or wrong, maaaan, only shades of grey!!!1!) There are many other layers, combinations of the two I suppose -- but... So far those are the most dominant group features I can see.

    But right now I can't continue blogging about my observations of blogging bloggers, because unlike some, I don't get paid for it. I do it because I love information, sharing information, gaining information, rolling around in information while more information rains down in a sweet summer storm of information.

    I am at heart a geek.

    Just a geek who's gotta get paid, ese.
    Where's my job at yo? I gotta pimp this shit!
    Aaaaall right.

    Monday, 11 June 2007

    Music Is My Imaginary Friend!

    So I'm listening to a little Peaches (t.y. link to song: Set It Off) at the moment, due to a rather wonderful series of events which reminded me that I like her because she's so fucking bold.

    Explicit, vulgar and ambiguous - I feel like it's both a mockery and an embrace towards the stupidly over sexualised and fictitiousness of pop music videos and sex in general. It takes some fucking guts to shake your ass in pink y-fronts and fishnets, which by the end of the video show untamed hair poking out.

    There has to be a German word for the aura of Magnificently Grotesque, as there seems to be a German word for every other awesome in-between adjective. Wait, are resonant feelings/impressions/vibes adjectives? Could this one be in this case?

    There they're their.
    Know knead two bee whirr Eid.

    Anyway, I'm listening to Peaches as the transition period before I fall into my fresh assortment of Sisters of Mercy that I will partake in whilst reading my newly acquired book, The Children of Húrin.

    Aw yeah, it's gonna be awesome.

    But here's a question: who can tell me about the representation of the 1950s Housewife in gay cinema? Specifically of the 80s and 90s? I've been finding all these clips, you see, of drag film segments all put together -- and I just can't get over it. I'm going to write a bigger post about it soon, as I have been saving the resources for a week+ now -- I just wanted to know if there were any articles on the subject that I was overlooking, any artists...

    Now, because I'm not yet in the ring to fight about how awesome I am for pimping myself on the internets & gaining cartooning ability by loosing my sense of humour, I'm gonna go read & SoM it up.

    Gimme the ring!
    My precious!

    Saturday, 9 June 2007

    Virtual Communication & The 21st Century Child

    I've been speaking to my sisters via iChat over the past few days. It's really awesome - I don't know why I didn't abuse the power of iChat before, because being able to see them while we have a conversation really allows us to actually communicate. Being on the phone with them, it's kind of weird - I don't know if it's the age differences or just the way in which we communicate when we're physically in the same room, but phone calls last about five minutes -- where iChat video sessions last like an hour.

    I think a lot of our communication is tied up in joking around and our sense of humour - so when we can see each other, we pull funny faces and laugh and make visual jokes and then once that's done and we've established this sort of casual, jokey air, we can talk about serious things, sister things and culture things.

    This differs dramatically from how I typically like to communicate. I want to say like sixty percent+ of my daily communication, although I would like to actually chart these numbers, is in text form. Emails, text messages, blog posts, LJ posts, MySpace messages, and, above all, Mu* Content.

    Does anyone know what a Mu* is anymore? Ah, Wikipedia has a good entry for MUSHs which gives a pretty clear picture. It's a text based online chat/RPG environment. I've been chat/RPing on them since 1996 or so, when I joined the Redwall MUCK as a chipper hare archer named Fireblossom who liked cream cakes and spoke like a fake military colonialist - spot of tea wot, wot? Yeah, yeah, cliché's I know.

    Many people have moved on to MMORPGs or virtual words like Second Life -- I have an avatar on Second Life, and I would use it more often, but I don't have access to the things which make me most interested - i.e. making clothing & skins - because I don't have the funds, etc, etc. On top of that, I don't feel the same sort of community on Second Life as I do on Mu*s, although I have been Mu*ing for ten+ years, so of course I know it would take time for that sense to grow.

    It's also about privacy, I think - not privacy like 'OMG they're reading my emails!' - it's more like, when I am on Second Life there is a vast amount of people scuttling around, even when I move away to a build area. Because the social etiquette is still relatively new for SL, people seem to have no problem having naked or offensive avatars just walking around willynilly, even in PG areas. That's cool, I'm not afraid of naked pixels - they don't even really offend me - but the attitude of 'haha I'm in a virtual world, I can do whatever I want, assholes!!!' does.

    There is a really, really fantastic article on social etiquette in virtual words, originally published in the village voice in '93, which I found linked to on one of the MANY MANY blog posts after the whole K.S. Fiasco '07 - I wish I had the blog that posted to it (I'd have to search technorati for a while and I am lazy, but if you know of it, comment!), and the article is A Rape in Cyberspace. (WARNING: it's way fucking graphic in description, I know a few of you will not enjoy reading it, so don't.)

    It describes a player character who used a piece of code on LambdaMOO to control the actions of another PC's text avatar, and then did all sorts of gross lustmort gore porn descriptions of the said PC, against the PC Players will.

    Yes, that is likely a very poor introduction to those who don't Mu*, the life of Mu*ing -- but I'm listing it here because it's a prime example of the way that social structures are formed in new environments, and environments where you express extensions of identity, which may not be your identity.

    Like me, I play a mad scientist somewhere or another who has a rich, complicated history and personality which is utterly fictional, and at times questionably unethical. I have spent hours perfecting the method of playing - i.e. textual expression - this character accurately, because I am a nerd, and the character has been known to be maniacal and disturbed - as well as humane and reflective. But they aren't me, and no matter how vicious or hurt or rude or nice or occasional evil or loving the character may be, they never reflect on how I am as a person - save for maybe the method of the writing they're expressed with.

    And nobody ever messes my PCs actions/thoughts/opinions up with mine -- because we have an extremely well defined line between IC/in character and OOC/out of character. Identity is tagged, organised and marked - your character does something rude, you laugh about it with the others on OOC chan - but if you do something rude on OOC chan, you, the player, are held responsible.

    Even on social Mu*s - i.e. ones without strict RPG guidelines - I've been on, there is a line between your Avatar, and you -- some people choose to express themselves personified as a dancing pony or animated ball of slime or normal looking humanoids with semi-ficiotious personalities, others are dudes in jeans and t-shirts or a super elf princess with wings which express the views of their players and those views alone. But one can mostly tell the difference between RL/OL persona - because it's typically explained, or one can figure it out swiftly through interaction. How many dancing polar bears that like Kant and Klondike bars are there?

    But Second Life... She doesn't have those social guidelines set up - not in the big open spaces, which so often remind me of Dead Man and what it must feel like to go somewhere alien all by yourself. Naked dudes can come up to you and start screaming about their virtual hat covering their virtual wang, and there is little to stop them - at least, it seems that way for a noob like me.

    And where I know there are locations in Second Life where there is civility already installed, and I am interested to start hanging out there to meet some new humanoids (or non-humanoids), the problem of explaining to the masses the science of Virtual Etiquette is incredibly fucking hard - as illustrated in Penny Arcade's mathamatical equation.

    I guess it boils down to the way that people want to express themselves to the world; or virtual world as it were. I do this because I like stories, I like games, and I like communicating with people in RL on locations far, far away. I've had friends in Australia, all over America, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Austria, Scotland - every English speaking country and beyond - because of virtual worlds. When I connect to a Mu*, I'm not just connecting to a game, I'm connecting to people.

    Without the stigma of race, age, sex, beauty, style, or poise.
    But only their intellect and ability to communicate via text.

    And I think it's... Wonderfully freeing.

    Because for as much as I like seeing my kid sisters face on iChat, it was only when I read a manifesto and poem on Boston that she wrote in her LiveJournal that I realised she was a thinking, reflecting, pondering, creative human being -- and started to treat her like one.

    Text FTW.

    Saturday, 2 June 2007

    Bling Blood

    I was on the OOC channel of a Mu* the other day, when somebody posted a link to Demian Hirst's new piece with the comment; "Y'know, some people have just got too much money."

    As you can see, the link doesn't have a very good photograph of the work in question - but anyway, this sparked off a discussion on the OOC channel about the point of the piece. I won't lie, it was mostly me going on about how it could be considered a demonstration on the value we impose on objects during our lifetime which then become obsolete when we die, and that Hirst has a history of using images of death in a way that transforms them into images of wonder, etc, etc.

    But I missed a whole other point about the origin of diamonds, the people who suffer get them, etc - and I saw on boingboing the link to the NY Times article, where Hirst says:

    “That’s when you stop laughing,” Hirst says. “You might have created something that people might die because of. I guess I felt like Oppenheimer or something. What have I done? Because it’s going to need high security all its life.”

    And it struck me... That diamond encrusted skull is going to have more protection and attention then countless children - for decades, and decades, and decades - until it is destroyed in some way. The diamond skull is, in short, immortal - while being an icon of death and luxury.

    I won't lie; when I saw the photograph for the first time, straight on, I was actually shocked at its beauty. Totally shocked. Because fuck, it is a beautiful object, no doubt. But I'm not too sure how I feel about it's resonance.

    Friday, 1 June 2007

    Icky Thump? Oh Snap!

    White Stripes - Icky Thump


    I heard this for the first time yesterday.

    Yippee kai yay motherfucker; Meg & Jack are back!

    I had tonnes of extremely insightful things to say about this, but I'm actually too excited to say anything important. Listen, just listen. GAH.

    The White Stripes got me out of the Huge Depression With Modern Music. I believe they have integrity - which is difficult for me to say, as I don't believe many bands actually have integrity - because the music industry is such a, well, industry, so much of what should be uninfluenced purity is effected by stuff like 'you need to sexify your image' and 'can you be less political?' and, in short, over marketed, over produced, and over hyped.

    I don't really know how to address my antipathy towards the music industry, and by proxy a large percentage of contemporary music -- when new bands come onto the scene, I am Instantly Suspicious of them. Instantly. I don't trust them. By default I think they're media pawns or fame junkies - and it takes a lot for me to consider musicians otherwise. Pretty much, they have to make a Really Fucking Good album for me to start changing my mind - and they have to back it up.

    But moving back in time -- Icky Thump:

    It has no chorus -- WTF how can the random 'lah-lah-lah' be so frightening and effective -- that organ is amazing - did he just get political again?

    Last time I heard Jack get political was, what, their first album? Big Three Killed My Baby? Man O' Man!

    And then the more and more I listen, the more I start to believe that the guitar breaks are the chorus. Three in all. Oh man. I won't slaughter the song anymore. I love it so.

    As I am discussing contemporary artists that don't make me want to die, let me give you three more:

    Patrick Wolf - Camp, British, good.
    Peachcake - Surreal Electropop, give me hope.
    Bright Eyes - Yeah I said it.