Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"What do you mean there’s no such place as Further South Dakota?!"


Loved this so much, I had to make a map.

Based on an actual quiz given to British people, It’s Thanksgiving So We Asked Brits To Label The United States — We’re So Sorry, America.  

I love how the Midwest is just one big interchangeable blob. No worries- Mid-westerners feel the same way.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010



Twenty-ten.

Feeling retrospective. Thinking about 'age brackets', and whether there is something radically strange and disjuncted about being in one's 30s and not deeply entrenched in breadwinning and child rearing.

Cultural literacy forces us to live a life of constant comparison. I have a romanticized vision of what 30-something life should be, based on the 80's television show of the same name. Mel Harris gently sways to the stereo with her nine-month old daughter in her arms, turning to Ken Olin who watches her from the doorway, a soft-focus, slow zoom, life-affirming Hallmark moment concluding 14 episodes of existential anxiety attacks. Despite long afternoons hiding out in the darkroom drinking beer and listening to the Phillies games, despite being the life of the party but lately finding fewer parties and less things funny, despite his marriage being under strain, despite being overwhelmed by feelings he's never had to deal with before, despite all of his doubts surrounding displacement and entrenchment and fatherhood and growing old, he finds perspective in that final scene, as she smiles back at him, and whispers, "I think she likes Van Morrison."

God. We ruthlessly mocked that show in High School, while our english teacher, a Volvo-driving, NPR quoting, Timothy Busfield lookalike said, "Its captures life at that age so perfectly...you'll see."

We rolled our eyes, not knowing it had implanted a fiction of what life is supposed to be. I wondered if I could ever be in a position to grapple with those "mature" issues -- as if HAVING the issues was somehow heroic. While distancing myself from the idealization of middle class well-adjusted 30somethingdom that television portrayed, I still saw the bittersweet significance of it all, all the triumphs and failures and post-20's minutia that go into fashioning a new sense of home. Not for the show itself, but the innate sense that this WAS a bridge I would have to cross eventually, that life after 30 was a pill that we would all have to swallow, and that it wasn't about silly yuppies and their angst-ridden melodramas, but simply about the fear of growing up, no matter how old you are, and knowing enough about life to be totally confused by it.

I remember a quote from one of the actors on Charlie Rose or one of those talk shows, in which he characterized the central theme as "owning up to certain realities, not necessarily the compromise of principles, but rather the recognition that many of our notions of the future were idealizations and can't be lived in the world."

Once that's in place, its all a bit easier. So much of our retrospection and uncertainty about who we were then and who we're supposed to be now is chimerical, based on such unrealistic archetypes. Growing into ourselves takes as long as it takes, and its hard enough without the added pressure of "hitting the marks" that society gives us. A friend going toe-to-toe with single motherhood once told me, "It is way more important to figure out how to be happy being you than to figure out how to be happy being your age. Fuck numbers. Sometimes I am pissed that I didn't get my perfect ""thirtysomething" life, but I got this one, and have to do what I can with it."

I do relate to feeling displaced and disjuncted. Most days I feel like I'm secretly still a teenager. But I also felt so much older than my age, when I was a teen. My birthdays have always involved me wondering what the heck the deal was about. In the longterm. And about the choices I've made, and will make. I sort of did things in reverse. And now, from this vantage, I know there's nothing inherently noble about all that stuff I saw on 80's television, or funny, or even particularly interesting, and that we weren't the first generation to face such endeavors, and ultimately its about people, not ages.

I'm perfectly content to feel lost in uncharted territory, even if its the territory we're supposed to know best. And if I was a thirty-something english teacher, earnestly advising my students that the sitcom of our lives is all about waiting for a feeling of well-adjustment that never comes, I'd probably expect them not to laugh.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

“Everything’s amazing & nobody’s happy.”


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN0MpBQG3-E


Very funny clip.

Lewis CK opens up a great avenue of discussion into why technology will never be enough, a cartoon version of a more serious argument that we become an ungrateful, unhappy society, blind to progress.

While my computer was down (for several weeks), I had occasion to reflect on why technology makes us so neurotic. About virtuality and computer addiction. The constant checking. Its not just computers, but the "message/communication" addiction. Email and social media and blogs and dozens of sites that are constantly updated. The "possibility." What if somebody walked out to their mailbox 50 times a day? That's what email does. And if we lose our connections, we lose our day to day lifeline to an increasingly virtual world. Perhaps, in some measure, technology is a reflection of mind’s nature to be somewhere else.

Failing to connect is *literally* the problem, in terms of why "no is happy." We are becoming increasingly isolated and spending the majority of our time interacting with the world through a screen, rather than we are actual experience. The real secret of our success as a species is our social behavior, and our intelligence tied to the ability to remember all these complex social interactions which gave us an edge....yet people are being pushed into virtual ways to seek the communal, rather than more personal immediate levels...chat rooms and emails and TV. So the theory is that our society is deconstructing our tribal/communal roots because we're immersed in electronic techno-boredom and reward-driven activities and have no time for that type of investment. Its like the old joke, "We have the tools, we've just lost the handle."

A lot of the "bad stuff" were seeing culturally may be part of that. When you suppress a certain part of human nature, it must come out somehow. Like a balloon; you push in one side, it squooshes out the other. We're suppressing and neglecting our communal nature, and its the most powerful part of our humanity. The more you reinforce individualism, the more you get individualism fragmenting into various groups where its "WE" against the others. That's a natural human and primate behavior. As a result, the social infrastructure is crumbling. "No one is happy" because we're losing the balance in a speed-of-light culture that is totally amazing, yet so divorced from any organic real non-processed life. Compounding the issue, we're pushing ourselves to speeds beyond which it appears we were designed to live. McLuhanites have been expounding the polemic for years. We're all living somewhere between distraction and frenzy, and at the end of the day, all we can remember are our commutes and weather outside.

Technology is not the real enemy, however.  If advances were being used properly, people would not have to work more than a few hours a day, which is possible with the technology available today. If this technology was not used for war and wasteful activities, people could work three or four hours a day and earn enough to take care of any needs. So it would be a world where people have more time for music and art and literature and just living in a human way with others.

In the pre-internet age of the papernet, The Angry Thoreauian zine espoused neo-luddite views about living at the speed of light and information overload in our drive-through "give me more and give it to me faster" culture; Their focus was to study neurobiology and think more carefully about how our culture is evolving. This is a much better alternative to de-industrializing, or relocating to Walden Pond. I believe technology need not be an alienating factor in modern life, and the web2.0 paradigm need not be a "disconnect" if used properly -- as a social media tool that aids us in our instinctual ability to to form extended kinships, work together and live in communities, and have a more caring, integrated society. We need to reunite the tribe. The global village. 

Quoting Richard Linklater, "Whatever you do, don’t be bored, this is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting.”


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nanopaint



















The nanopaint thread:

(cont.)

The actual physical workings would be prohibitively complicated; A lot depends on the degree of non-localized information that the nano-guys can retain and process in real time. They would necessarily require on-the-fly updates of the location and trajectory of trillions of other "smart-pigments," while simultaneously performing a continuous torrent of differential equations to reconcile the matrix. Once arranged, from a distance the multiple nanopigments would presumably form an optical mixture of color.

This effect, known as Chromoluminarism or Divisionism, carries with it some interesting implications beyond the realm of "smart-paint."

The premise is that nano-pigments are operating along the lines of the strictest definitions of pointalism, in which small distinct points of primary colors create the impression of a wide selection of secondary and intermediate colors. However, as with Shrodinger's Cat and the necessity of an "observer" to collapse the waveform, the color "mixing" phenomena cannot take place without an observer to reconcile a given chromatic arrangement -- An example of graphic art as allegory to reality emerging from disparate points, macrocosm emerging from microcosm.

In this sense, the nanopigments would become avatars of a mathematical QM consciousness in order to operate effectively within this model. Bestowed with actionable accountability for their role in the higher order of things, we may see how untenable the operational logistics of a universe invoking hypertopgraphy on QM levels might quickly become. No one unit can quantify the vast amount of information necessary to act in knowing and relative accordance to the universe at large. Perhaps this is the bugaboo of modern physics, the grand unified theory that Einstein spent his final years pursuing. "As above, so below" may work in esoteric teachings, but break down on the chalkboards of Princeton. While certain theories of interconnectedness indicate a window of scientific possibility, we may never know the answer.

At present, everything works fine when broken down to simple, isolated components. As with Divisionism in the context of this model, the technique involves breaking color into its basic elements, painting in very small and regular dots. Simple, replete. A blue dot, for instance, doesn't know its doing "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" -- Its simply doing "blue." Alternately, if all the electrons in my hand knew they were doing "HAND" rather than simply going about their business, it would become quite a quantum argument. (Comperable in scale to lunch with Richard Dawkins and 10 trillion QM consciousness guys.)

So, if we live in a universe comprised of particles which presumably care not what tiny pigment of qualitative relavence they add to the big picture, the question arises: What if constituent particles contained knowledge of the grand design, and worse yet, responsibility for creating it? And what if something as stupid as "nanopaint" became a model for how it works?

If the premise is correct -- in this respect -- we can surmise the primary obstacle would be the "choreography". In accordance to the manner in which an active matrix computer screen operates, it would be much simpler if the nanoguys could instantly chameleon themselves to ANY spectral frequency they are assigned, like an army of quick-thinking cuttlefish (rather than a microscopic marching band performing complex arrangements.) That is to say, it is much harder to organize an aggregate result from localized processes than to control a group which operates reflexively by virtue of a centralized force acting upon it; as Photoshop commands its army of pixels, for instance. No intercommunication required, just a higher-mind. (A benevolent dictatorship versus a cooperative collective?)

There's also the problem of the nano-revolution... when somebody paints a picture big enough for the nanopaint particles reach a critical mass of information about the universe they inhabit & create by virtue of their own existence, and start demanding artistic freedom.

This could get messy.


-Chris