"the deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent" - William Gibson

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Durer's practical joke

I found another great nugget as i'm slowly reading Paul Graham's Hackers & Painters:

"Good design is often slightly funny. This one may not always be true. But Dürer's engravings and Womb Chair and the Pantheon and the original Porsche 911 all seem to me to be slighly funny. Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem seems like a practical joke.

I think its because humor is realted to strength. To have a sense of humor is to be strong: to keep one's sense of humor is to shrug off misfortunes, and to lose one's sense of humor is to be wounded by them. And so the mark - or at least the perogative - of strength is not to take oneself too seriously. the confident will often. like swallows, seem to be making fun of the whole process slightly, as Hitchcock does in his films or Bruegel in his paintings (or shakespeare for that matter).
Good design may not have to be funny, but it's hard to imagine something that could be called humorless also being good design."

Monday, August 30, 2004

tangents to songlines

i was looking on
to try to "search inside" Bruce Chatwin's Songlines, and i came across a few reader reviews which got me thinking about fiction vs. non fiction, Herzog vs. Moore.

"I think the last commentator has missed the point. Chatwin doesn't spell everything out for you - what is a well crafted book worth especially given the Internet and the transience of the printed or spoken word? No, his ideas are still evolving and revolving around my head. I'm a resource investigator and I'm hungry for quirky details and love to connect seemingly disparate ideas into graceful patterns. That's how we, as a species, have survived - making sense of the senseless. This was not a book about aborigines but about curiosity and how movement enables us to continue to see the world anew."

"Chatwin casts a spell you do not want to be broken. I suggest that if you do not know much about him, resist that strong impulse to start reading biographical notes and commentary on the book until after you have finished the book. None of what's out there will deny you its excellence; it just might poke a confusing hole in the reality it has created. The book is an exhilaratingly profound experience in the accessible guise of a pleasant, insightful travelogue. Ask why its author considered it fiction after you've read it."

Friday, August 20, 2004

an early taste of christmas

It's a amazing that a simpletrailer can jolt my mood into manic ice cream time. God bless Wes Anderson.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Fighting $pam with DNA power

An article in New Scientist describes how researches at the IBM Bioinformatics Center have repurposed the sophisticated pattern-recognition filter used in genetic analysis to keep all the v1@gra and X@N.ax solicitations out of our inboxes. Of course, it's early in the game, but any chance to say "take that spammers" should be cherished.

Could the advanced algorithms and techniques originally developed to analyze DNA sequences provide breakthrough tools in other industries, ala 60's space race?

wire it to my swiss bank account please

Just landed a gig with BrainStore, a swiss company which "Develops and services ideas."

They are a pretty interesting comapny. I've worked with them before when I was in Switzerland, but this will be the first time I've gotten a remote gig. I haven't gotten briefed on my particular assignment and the pay is minimal, especially if they insist on paying me in $'s (thanks, dubya for making the dollar so weak against foreign currency), but I'm pretty excited. My title is Trendscout. This should be fun.

Friday, August 13, 2004

The Great Meatshakes Experiment

This guy gets an A plus for commitment. and bonus points for describing the disturbing process with great British phrases like:
not only did it taste like the underside of a tramp's scrotum
I would, in all seriousness, rather suck a badger's cock
The majority of the chicken meatshake soon finds our kitchen plughole

well done, dr. feral. you are an inspiration.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

How many denizens of Make Believe can you name?

I'm finally starting to sign up some additional users/posters on the comapny blog I set up at work, we, robot. No one other than me has posted yet, but I think there is genuine interest and I'm encouraged. Our industry is pretty conservative. I sent out this article from business week which helped I think,Blogging for Business. Not the best article on the subject, but the BW name lends a good deal of street cred in these parts.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Errol Morris, who is easily one of my favorite filmmakers and up till now never a trend follower, has decided to throw his camera in the anti-bush tent (as triumph the insult comic dog would say: I haven't seen this many Anti-Bush people since Ricky Martin's birthday party).

Why I ask, why?
what makes it worse, and it feels blasphemous to say this, but the ads aren't really that good either. He did 20 of them, all interviews with former Bush voters, and all homages to Apple's Swithc ads. Decide for yourself: MoveOn PAC ads

I'm all for taking action for causes you believe in and i have zero love for W (i voted for Nader in the last election out of principle), but i want to keep political propaganda out of my movie theater and i believe that Capt. Morris's immense talent could be better spent doing something other than preaching to the choir. His latest documentary masterpiece, Fog of War, did what I wish all the F 9/11's and outfoxed did, it held up the mirror. No more. No less. and it looked great too.

So fine. If Capt. Morris wants to throw his talents into the Kerry tent then good for him, but why make such dry marshmellows.
I mean, the man obviously understands how to speak to the Red State demographic. Remember all those great Miller High Life Ads, "Grease, that's just extra flavor for the High Life Man,"etc. Morris directed the whole campaign. Sheer brillance.
Uggh. It just hurts me to watch these. I hope i'm wrong, but I predict that about 10 votes are swung becuase of these ads. They're on the MoveOn website for christsake. Not exactly a neutral destination.

Oh well, I still love you errol. How could i stay mad at a man who has 6 reasons why it makes sense to beat a dead horse on his website. My favorite:
"#1 Sets an example for other horses. (that might be watching)"

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Hunger is good discipline.

I'm going to take the 1200 challenge.

These days due to a mix of recent lab experiments and ancient natural wisdom doctors have started putting cancer patients and people fighting other illnesses on a restricted calorie diet. Apparently, it has helped some of the patients recover, and you may have read about how it has been shown to extend the life expectency of rats and what not.

So, i'm going to see if I can do the regimine: 1200 calories per day. The science makes some sense, and it'll probably be good for my health and all, but mostly I just want to see if i can handle the hunger. I remember the passage from hemmingway's "A Moveable Feast" where he talks about being hungry all the time, and walking around the Museum D'Orsay and how Cezanne's still life's popped with more color and more energy when he had not eaten in a while. I look forward to more vivid colors as well.

Also, I'm putting together a short film on food for the dirty pictures project called Pie Hole, and I don't think i can really explore the subject matter how I want to until i break free from its grasp. I know, these self-imposed minor hardships are silly and if she got wind of this, my grandmother would shake her head and wonder what the hell was wrong with me, but it's something i want to do. I know its not that impressive of a feat, but this mission will be difficult for me, i really like to eat and I really like to drink. I enjoy the feeling of eating fast and being too full.

I'm going to try this for 30 days to start. That should be sufficient to push me off the deep end. Wish me luck.

For a good discussion of restricted calorie diets and related issues see:
Just Don't, sing the ageless worms @Metafilter.