Monday, May 19, 2008

I Can Makes Lolz?

So I was inspired the other day and captioned my first LOLCat over at ICanHasCheezburger.com and I'm somewhat pleased with it.




Link to page on ICanHasCheezburger.com where you can view it (and I supposed any more LOLCats I end up making) and vote for it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stroke of Insight



In this video, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor gives an captivating recounting of her own stroke when an embolism the popped in her brain, a unique experience for someone who is already a student of the mind. Strangely enough, her story so closely resembles feelings I have had while under the influence of the mushroom psilocybe cubesis that it approaches the uncanny.

The loss of connection with one's own body (incomprehesion of speech, difficulty producing fluid motor movements, loss of sense of self...) as well as the simultaneous oneness with the surrounding universe are all common feelings when tripping on psilocybin. This very much agrees with my belief that we all experience our reality through a series of mental filters, and while we most commonly have a shared set of filters, at times certain events, spiritual experiences, medical conditions, or drugs can rearrange and replace some or most of these filters, resulting in an altered state of consciousness. And it appears the filter set which psychedelic mushrooms introduces to the mind is somehow similar with the set under which Taylor was experiencing reality when stroking.

Link: TED | Talks | Jill Bolte Taylor - My Stroke of Insight (video)

Drunk Jeff Goldblum

What happens when you slow d0wn Jeff Golblum's erratic, tweaked out ramblings to half speed? A few people wanted to see, and it turns out he sounds absolutely smashed. It started out innocently enough with some of his 1999 commercials for the iMac:



...and then progressed to other clips.



All hail the ripe and fuzzy and delicious peach... and the peach pie. Below are links to the rest of this brilliance of the internet:

Apple Ad 1
Apple Ad 2
Conan Clip 1
Conan Clip 2
"Best Story Ever"

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Art of Being an Asshole

Sorry it's been a while posting here. I simply got out of the loop. Here's a paper I wrote for a bullshit class I am taking right now that I thought some people might enjoy.

4 Easy Steps to Becoming an Asshole
or: The Art of Winning with Self-Contradiction

Asshole. Pretentious prick. Holier-than-thou attitude. All of these words, and more, over the past few years I have been called to my face (and probably more so behind my back). And this doesn't bother me – or at least, it didn't. I'm not sure how I feel about it now, as illustrated by my paper two weeks ago. But even if I am possibly no longer content being and asshole, rest assured that I am an expert in the field of being an asshole. And since it was brought to my attention that I had been using asshole without previously defining it, I felt it was my responsibility to inform the world of what exactly I mean when saying someone is an asshole. So here it is: the quintessential guide to how you can attract and repel girls simultaneously, alienate your friend so you can make new ones to alienate, and lead a wholly self-concerned lifestyle where all you really care about is people's opinions of you.

Step 1: Talk Down to Your Friends

Your current friends are the easiest vehicles with which to begin your journey towards becoming the Buddha of pretension. Since they are your friends, they should already like you and hopefully respect you. (If not, skip to Step 2: Talk Down to Strangers.) This makes them perfect targets for your newfound skill of making someone feel bad for not knowing something trivial – the attack is both unnecessary and unexpected. Take this sample conversation for example:

Trivial Conversation Maker: So I was in this class the other day and we were discussing the assassination of Franz Ferdinand...
Target Dolt: Wait, what? Someone killed all the members of Franz Ferdinand?!
Trivial Conversation Maker: Well, no, we were talking about the Archduke...
Asshole in Training: Dude, you don't even know who the Archduke Ferdinand was? The man whose assassination erupted into one of the bloodiest wars ever fought, World War I? You seriously think that someone would bother to assassinate a couple of has-been Scottish indie rockers?

Above is a perfect example of how one can take a simple misunderstanding and blow it out of proportion into a grand statement which devalues both of the other parties involved. First of all, this prodigious Asshole in Training (AIT) interrupts the Trivial Conversation Maker (TCM) – a valuable skill for the aspiring dick – disavowing him of any opportunity to assert his own intellectual fortuitousness, an especially useful move here because he is apparently taking a class on the subject and therefore probably knows more about it than you. Instead, the AIT bursts in, interjecting the full three sentences which he could use to discuss the Archduke (this is, after all, the extent of your knowledge, but since the TCM is now there to fill in any details while you sit back and revel in your initial comment, the AIT is safe). AIT gets major bonus points for adding in his pretentious musical critique, at the same time establishing his knowledge of the band Franz Ferdinand by saying that they are Scottish (implying that they were once cool enough for you to devote at least some energy into them) and discarding them as “has-been rockers” (a great term – take that one down in your notes, kids). (See Step 4: Loving and Hating Music for more details.)

Step 2: Talk Down to Strangers

Putting down strangers is a much easier, albeit sometimes riskier, process. When speaking with strangers the AIT is allowed much more leeway in terms of how degrading they may be to their target. For example, in the above conversation, where the AIT referred to Target Dolt (TD) as simply, “Dude,” if the TD had been a stranger, or even occasional acquaintance, it would have been acceptable to call him a “clod” or “dumb-ass.” In some social circles even “r-tard” would have been acceptable. This achieves a number of things. First of all, it establishes to the TD that you do not have respect for him, as you are better and cooler than he is. He will have to strive to gain some semblance of your respect. However, once this line is crossed, be careful how many insults are dished out, as it takes a while for someone to gain an asshole's respect. Once the TD is in possession of this highly valued commodity, he may have caught on to your sly shenanigans and be in position to reverse the situation and make you look like the downtrodden imbecile, an unacceptable outcome. Another possible outcome of this is that TD may get fed up with your ways and tell you to piss off, effectively changing you from pretentious prick to jerk-off in three seconds flat. Second, to all others observing the conversation you have immediately moved up a peg in the mini community of social standings which has just made itself apparent (and of which you are constantly aware and climbing). Well placed insults are a hugely valuable tool in the arsenal of the asshole.

However, one must be way to not just the social repercussions of a misplaced insult but also the physical ones. The bulk of these conversations tend to take place at either bars or house parties – both establishments where most are drinking (including yourself – all pretentious assholes are also near-alcoholics or drug addicts). Specifically, while the burly jock type may seem like an easy target for intellectual browbeating, he is not easily dissuaded by mere words. While your typical non-jock target may slump away after being rejected by your apparently superior intellect, jocks are much more often prone to violence. In these examples, putting up a fight yourself is not a wise choice, as you risk actually being physically harmed. Instead, if the jock is threatening violence, first make some statement about how its totally unnecessary to fight about such things. If this does not back him off, you must actually take a page from the jock's own book. Open your arms while simultaneously jutting out your chest towards the potential attacker, screaming, “Fuckin' a, then do it! Go on, hit me bitch! Gimme your best shot!” If this still does not deter him, you will be punched. However, this all still works into your plan. After the punch, recoil slightly, so as to show that you have been physically injured (possibly more than you really are) and shout back, “What the fuck dude? Why the fuck did you do that? That was so unnecessary.” (Of course this is all being said with the answer to your questions: you told him to!) You may now stumble away, possibly while flipping him the bird behind your back. Now you are “That guy who got hit by that jack-ass” and girls will be fawning all over you, looking to treat each and every one of your superficial wounds with diligent and loving care. High five! Now go get laid, asshole.

Step 3: Amass an Arsenal of Information

The key to an asshole's attractiveness is his brain. But girls don't want brainy, nerdy guys; they want guys who are smart and masculine at the same time. This is established not by volunteering otherwise useless information but by honing your ability to interject such useless information at a point in the conversation where it may seem relevant. For example, do not simply jump into a conversation at state, “A group of ferrets is a business!” This makes you look like a dork for knowing this as well as being incredibly socially awkward because the statement has no relevance to the conversation. The key here is not in the information which is conveyed but in how it is presented – your actual arsenal need not be intimidating (even though knowledge of philosophy or literary theory is hugely recommended). A more apt way of conveying the same tidbit of information is as follows:

Target Female: Ugh, my house is so gross. I swear I heard rats crawling around in the walls the other night.
AIT: That is gross. But you know, not all rats are vile. I used to have four pet rats and they were awesome. But they all died last year.
TF: Awww, I'm so sorry! That's so sad!
AIT: Yeah, it's alright tho. What I really want to get now is a ferret.
TF: Yeah, my friend has a ferret. They're really cool but she says it smells a lot too.
AIT: They are known for smelling, but there's also a lot of cleaning you can do to prevent that. Wanna know something really cool about ferrets tho?
TF: Yeah, what?
AIT: Do you know what a group of ferrets is called? Like y'know a school of fish or a pod of dolphins...
TF: No.
AIT: A business!
TF: Omigod that is so cute! I never knew that.

There are numerous subtleties in the above conversation which lead to the outcome of displaying useless trivia as a shiny lure for girls. First, the AIT must diverge the conversation towards his anticipated target. He picks out the rats in the girl's wall and slowly translates that into a discussion about ferrets. Extra points for avoiding a conversation where the girl is complaining – these can almost always lead to bitchings about ex- (or current) boyfriends, a topic which the Overly-Caring Sensitive Guy may be well armed to deal with However, the asshole cannot maintain his allure of intellectual superiority while coddling a sobbing girl, consoling her over her latest man-troubles. This AIT actually gets double bonus points for also eliciting sympathy over his dead pets while proving that he is hard and already moving on my bringing up the ferret. Next, the girl makes her own comment about ferrets, which the asshole confirms that he knew of as well, an especially good move because he then establishes his superiority by claiming he can solve the previously mentioned problem with the smell of ferrets (the AIT does not however have to actually be in possession of this information – he merely needs to assert it). Finally, he leads into his useless trivia by prefacing it with the statement that it is cool, predisposing the girl to have the same opinion. The delivery is made and the girl is receptive. Mission accomplished. Now go let laid, asshole!

Step 4: Loving and Hating Music

While the above step claims that that the information being conveyed is not of importance, this is only a half truth. One thing which all assholes must be fully knowledgeable about is music. Music is one of the things which bonds nearly every person on the planet. (Except for those freaks who don't listen to music. You may call them freaks to their faces, by the way.) More importantly, music is one of the few mediums which has both a fervent intellectual scene and a firmly entrenched pop-scene (books and movies less so – pop-books are so few and far between as are truly underground independent films). Many guides in this vein may tell you that to be a proper music snob, you must discredit any band who has a number one hit or becomes popular, but this is not the asshole way – this mindless acceptation-rejection cycle is for the hipsters. No, assholes may like a popular band, but they must underplay the hits. Saying something like, “Yeah, the new Justice album is awesome, but that track D.A.N.C.E. is so tired and overplayed. I much prefer songs like Let There Be Light or Phantom,” is a great example of how this can be pulled off – you get to assert your knowledge of the album, dispel the pop and elevate your own opinion as being both unpopular and superior. Another excellent tip is to readily accept the super-pop, which would be immediately rejected by most of the music elite, by saying things like, “I don't care what you think, the last Justin Timberlake album was pure genius.” It's something of a double bluff really; you get to make yourself seem more elite than the elite by acknowledging what they would typically say and immediately claiming your status as a better judge than those who might just say they don't like the album because that's what all the elitists are saying.

So there you have it: a simple, four step guide to making yourself as attractive yet unlikable as possible. I hope my experiences have helped you to more understand the mindset of the asshole and allow yourself to embrace such a vibrant, growing and entertaining life-style choice.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

StumbleUpon Interweb Menagerie Vol. III

Sorry about not posting for a while; between going back east (read: Salem, Massachusetts) for Spring break and then spending an extremely enjoyable trip to San Francisco (pics soon!) I just had not had the inundation of internet to fuel my blogging spirit.

In the interim, I have collected quite a number of interesting websites for your grubby little hands:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

FAO Schwarz: Make Your Own (Anatomically Correct) Monster

I woke up this morning with a neat little page that I'm assuming got onto my browser when I stumbled and then switched tabs before it could load. But that's beside the point. The point is that I came upon this cool little site displaying a new FOA Schwarz Exclusive which lets kids draw their own monster and fork up a measly $250 to have it made into a surprisingly accurate plush rendition.

And when I say surprisingly accurate, I mean it; the people at the North American Bear Co. seem to put a lot of care into making these stuffed animals... er... monsters as close to the retarded scribblings of children as possible.

Take this weird guy, adorned with weird spikes and moles popping out of his feakishly round head. The monster he designed is pretty cool tho:

And this monster design, while a bit simple, translates into what I must say is a pretty rad stuffed monster:

Although, hon, you look a bit old to be having your parents shell out 250 bones to buy you stuffed animals...

But my biggest shock came when I came across a design called Dot by an innocent enough little tyke named Sherri.
Notice anything a little disturbing about the picture? Here, have a closer look:

It appears little Sherri wants her monster to be a bit more than a friend. Let's see if the boys at North American Bear Co. noticed this lil' inconspicuous detail and if they actually implemented it:

That's perfect. I wonder if the parents noticed that part of their daughter's drawing, and what they think of her brand new purple monster with a big fuzzy dong hanging between its legs!

Link: Make My Own Monsters Creation Boutique

Thursday, March 20, 2008

OiNKPlus = Ul-Ul-Ultrasexy

So I've just started using this Greasemonkey script called OiNKPlus, and it's absolute sex. It interfaces with gobs of P2P music sites and adds an expandable pane which displays all sorts of information, including discography, similar artists (which for the first time I've seen in a while seems to be accurate) and even a Last.fm player (a site which I should sign up for already).

On top of that I've just installed the latest Firefox 3 beta and, despite the fact that a few of my favorite plugs aren't ready for it yet, the browsing is amazingly fast and seems to handle the display of multiple tabs much more efficiently than its now-ancient older brother.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Justice - DVNO EP Leaked!

How pleased I was to see the word "Justice" suddenly in the Top 10 of my favorite P2P music site. Not much else to say other than: here's my blow-by-blow report:

Radio Edit - Who cares?? It's just a shorter version of a song we already love.

Justice Remix - Starts immediately for no regard for uncalibrated speakers and headphones. A distorted synth-guitar similar to the one from the D.A.N.C.E. Live Version pitches down to what almost seems like unending bass notes under the vocals. A 'trough-peak' breakdown leads into a severely cut up version of the bass solo from the-

...

You know what, nevermind that, I'm a bit drunk and wrote way more than is necessary for a 6 track remix EP. I left the above for posterity really, and to make it seem more spontaneous rather than revealing the fact that I wrote about 300 words per song. Instead I'm going to give one sentence reviews (although anyone who knows me knows a sentence can turn into a fucking paragraph in my prose):

*points* Hey look! It made a sad emoticon!

Justice Remix - D.A.N.C.E. Live Version guitars dive bomb like a fleet of oppressive cross-bearing Kamikaze B-52's.

Surkin Remix - Glittery string-laden space-disco worthy of Discovery surrounding an awkward sandwich of ghettotech cheese and meat made of those Surkin stab-aholic bridges we've come to love.

Sunshine Brothers Remix - Vocoded vocals and simplistic, video game-inspired electro-house drum machine-synth combos show how the Sunshine Bros. got their name.

LA Riots Remix - The first remix using the instrumentation from the album mix is a fist-pump worthy romp full of vocal cut-ups, 1 bar-long loops and that now-iconic bass solo.

Petitis Pilous Remix - hold on... I gotta adjust the font...








...














LIKE FUCKING A WOMAN WITH SQUARE WAVE VAGINA!!


...in a good way, that is.

I could have also said, "Like making sweet, sweet love to a sqaure wave," but it just doesn't have the same impact in enormous, flashing red font.

UPDATE: Watch the video here, which is still in the tradition of the D.A.N.C.E. video. It remixes the icons from numerous movie (and music?) production companies and studios into reading the lyrics to the song.



Also, after watching the video, I did realize that the radio edit is slightly different - about half way through they start looping the instrumentation differently, like what they do at their live shows, and there's more of the piano from the outro of the video in the mix (which I really wish they had included in the radio edit).

Awesome image stolen from the people over at djmix.es.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Most Bad-Ass Myspace Ever

Along with the rest of the sane population of the internet, I think MySpaces with ungodly amounts of animation, transparencies, and otherwise processor-hogging graphics are unsightly, gaudy things which must go the way of Friendster.

But every now and then the internet surprises us: in what could be called an abstract application of Rule 34, Kavisnky - the French electronic music artist who is more 80's than a Transformer-locomotive carrying Night Rider, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a crate full of 8-bit Nintendo consoles, piloted by Dee Snider himself - has blessed the world with what could only be called MySpace porn:



And thats only one part - the scrolling background is fixed and theres tons more cool stuff to look it - it's like someone took Tron and made it a website. Simply put, this is the most bad-ass MySpace profile ever created.

StaJewtistics

Let me first diffuse any comments along the line of "u rasist fag0t!!!11" (yes, Jewish is a race, get over it) by pulling the age old, "Hey! I'm [insert race, sexual orientation, nationality, or black here] so it's okay for me to make fun of them!"-card. Yeah, it's a card with a big name.

Second, let me amend that statement by saying that I'm an absolutely terrible Jew: I've been to church more times than I've been to temple, I can't remember whether you fast on Yom Kippur or Rosh Ha-Shonnah, and the only Hebrew I know is the standard Hannukah prayer, and only then it's by wrote memory - I have no idea what the gobbledy-gook that's coming out of my mouth actually means. I even just had to consult Wikipedia one last time to find out how to spell Rosh Ha-Shonnah. Oh, and I didn't know Purim was a real holiday until today.

[And what a lovely segue that was.]

So, today I was browsing Facebook and noticed some party being held for Purim in LA. Now, any of you who have seen For Your Consideration (or are better Jews than I) know that Purim is a Jewish holiday which "commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire from Haman's plot to annihilate them." (It seems we've got a lot of holidays based on escaping from some sort of oppressor or another. A recurrent theme in the Jewish history, if you will.)

Well, I'd seen For Your Consideration (and, as stated before, am a terrible Jew) and had actually thought that they had made up the whole holiday! I mean, it's a Christopher Guest film; I wouldn't put that anywhere near past him. Actually, I'd put the two right fucking side-by-side. So I was shocked when I threw "Purim" into my Wikipedia search bar and what came up was not a page on the film but one meticulously detailing the very real Jewish holiday of Purim.

A few minutes of fascinated clicking went by and I had moved past the Purim article, on to the Ashkenazi Jews page and finally to the article on Jewish Population. It was here that I started looking at the statistics on the distribution of the Jewish population and noticed a few odd things.

First of all, Jews really don't exist outside of the US and Israel (which my friend Meena claims is the 51st state, so that doesn't even count). According to Wikipedia, 38.62% of all Jewish people live in the United States. The next highest populated country is Irael with... wait what?! The US has more Jews than the fucking homeland?? I guess it must be all the New York bagel shops and waiters willing to lightly toast it, cut it into quarters, and with a small amount of butter and light chive cream chesse - do you have that? Oh, and the cream cheese has to be on the side. But not the butter! And half a kosher dill pickle. No, I can't eat a whole one, just half. Anyone want to split it with me then? Oh well, forget the pickle, just the bagel then. And can I get some napkins over here?



It gets worse from there. After the US and Israel, the next highest popJewpulated country is Russia with a whopping 800,000 Yiddish-cursing residents. Thats only 4.91% of the Jews in the world! Also, if you were wondering what the little splotch above the sad face in my illustration is, it's supposed to be a Yarmulke. At least I knew how to spell that word. Edit: I didn't.

So to recap, nearly 75% of the Jews on Earth (I'll get to that later) reside in only two countries, one of which has more Jews and more movie-making than the other. This gives us a fairly decent world view of the sitJewtuation. But wait, Wikipedia wants to give us an even more comprehensive understanding, because in determining the Jewish population of the world, we need one more piece of crucial information:



Yes! It is indeed true, according to Wikipedia, that 100% of the Jews are on Earth! Goddamn, I'm glad that someone cleared that up, because I had been beginning to wonder where the Joozians were going to be factored into these population percentages.

But no Jew feels as alienated (Ha! Pun! Get it?) as the one lonely Jewish person in Afghanistan. You read that right: there is 1, count it, 1 Jewish person in Afghanistan, according to Wikipedia. Again in a conversation with Meena, it was decided that someone should edit the page to make it maybe a little more up-to-date:



Sorry little guy, but no one really expected you to make it.

UPDATE: Oh man, would it have been better if I titled this post Stajewstics?

Lobie Minus <3's u

My newest mix, Crashed, is up on The Lobie Blog and The Pirate Bay.



Crashed on The Pirate Bay


Includes the two mash ups, 'Little Harder Little Better' and 'I Don't Feel Like _________,' both of which are also available to stream and download on MySpace.

Full track list available at The Lobie Blog.

Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger

I found this pic and in my current haze I immediately thought of only one thing and just had to animate it:



If you're still not getting it, you should have seen this first: badgerbadgerbadgerbadgerbadger

I was also always a fan of this remix.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

LobieSpace

The MySpace page for Lobie Minus has been launched at http://www.myspace.com/lobieminus.

It includes four of my mash-ups, two of which are from my new mix 'Crashed' which will be up on torrents in a matter of days (I just have to finish seeding a few other torrents so that I can have my full upload bandwidth available).



Link: Lobie Minus on MySpace
Sample: MySpace Player

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

StumbleUpon Menagerie 2

  • A light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek viral vid of a hospital plagued with an outbreak of ailments from popular urban legends.

  • A list of Dr. Parodies, one of my favorites being this Freudain analysis of Cat in the Hat:
    After poohpoohing the righteous rantings of the waterlogged Christ figure, the Cat begins to juggle several icons of Western culture, most notably two books, representing the Old and New Testaments, and a saucer of lactal fluid, an ironic reference to maternal loss the two children experienced when their mother abandoned them "for the afternoon." Our heroic Id adds to this bold gesture a rake and a toy man, and thus completes the Oedipal triangle.

  • Virtual Spirograph - great fun!

  • Amusing, biting comic with which I agree:

  • The Twenty Science Fiction Novels That Will Change Your Life - I do question the abscence of the Ender's books, but they get kudos for including a novel by Cory Doctorow of my favorite blog, BoingBoing.

  • A totally awesome list of videos of building demolitions. This is one of my favorites, mainly because you can see so much of the explosion illuminating the inside of the building:

  • And finally, a picture (thanks to my neighbor Brittany) of a car which drove through the front of the 7-11 down the street. Another of my neighbors, Doug, was in the store and literally 5 feet from the car when it crashed through the window. The guy was so trashed that he was actually trying to back out of the store. I guess he was hoping for a drive-thru.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This is the bottom of the barrel people...

This is probably one of the worst people on earth right here:



This kind of exploitation of people is just horrendous, as are the people willing to go on these shows. Although, I hate to say it, but I almost wanna know what happened in the first half of the show; I mean, stealing the money and everything? Damn this bitch is cold.

Link: AWKWARD! is Today's Big Thing

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ghetto Blaster!

I just StumbledUpon this site which catalogs a number of 80's boomboxes. It led me to find the Vintage Boombox and Ghetto Blaster Museum, a site which I had perused a while ago. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, wishing for the days of cassette tape and neon colors. I remember getting boomboxes banned from the buses to Camp Mitchman after my friends and I played songs like "Long View" and "Stinkfist" one too many times - makes me want to buy one of these from eBay, get a cassette-adapter, and carry it around with my laptop and midi controller and DJ out on the street on hot summer days, drinking 40's on the curb. The perfect meld of old (read: from my childhood) and new technologies and culture.

Link: oobject >> monster 80s boomboxes via Stumble and Pocket Calculator's Vintage Boombox and Ghetto Blaster Museum

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Lobie Minus HQ

I've just launched a separate blog for my DJ "persona" Lobie Minus.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Chicago Lawmakers are Retarded

A city council in Chicago has just put forward a law to ban the sale of plastic bags under 2 inches in height - essentially, dime bags. Like banning the bags is going to have any effect! Think about this: if the substance being transported in the bags is illegal, what's to stop the dealers from getting the bags illicitly as well?

Lt. Kevin Navarro, commanding officer of the Chicago police Department's Narcotics and Gang Unit, said the ordinance will be an "important tool" to go after grocery stores, health food stores and other businesses. The bags are used by the thousands to sell small quantities of drugs at $10 or $20 a bag.

Navarro referred to the plastic bags as "Marketing 101 for the drug dealers." Many of them have symbols, allowing drug users to ask for "Superman" or "Blue Dolphin" instead of the drug itself, he said.
Yeah, um, because drug dealers never heard of CELLOPHANE or any other number of methods of transporting drugs. This is the equivalent of banning pint glasses and bottles in order to "crack down" on alcohol sales. What's next? Is it gonna be illegal to have a rectal cavity?

Also, just to prove how unknowledgable they are on the drug culture, logo'd bags are not used to code-name drugs but the dealers who SELL them. Even if they were right, considering how many other pseudonyms drugs have, I highly doubt it would have made much of a dent in drug sales if suddenly people had to stop ordering "Blue Dolphins" and find some other way to refer to their shit.

Link: City May Ban Small Bags Used for Drugs
Image from mirPod

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Uncanny Valley

Here is what I hope to be the final draft of my article on the uncanny valley for The Cyborg Database.

The Uncanny Valley
by Nils Weedon

Please watch each of the following embedded videos and answer the questions regarding those videos.















After each video, have the follow questions each with a drop-down menu with the choices of the numbers 1-5:

On a scale of 1-5, 1 being 'very little' and 5 being 'extremely,' answer the following questions:
How uncomfortable did the subject make you feel?
How life-like was the subject?
How human-like was the subject?
How human-like do you believe the subject was intended to be?

After, the user clicks submit and both individual and total results are displayed for each subject.


Introduction

If you answered 4 or 5 in regards to first question (“How uncomfortable did the subject make you feel?”) for any subject in the videos on the previous page, what you have just experienced was what has been dubbed The Uncanny Valley. The Uncanny Valley is a concept regarding the relationship between humans and machines first introduced by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori. However, the notion of the uncanny was first brought into popular thought by psychologist Sigmund Freud in his paper ”Das Unheimliche”. (I am aware that the uncanny was described by others before Freud, but for all intents and purposes he can be said to be the father of the current understanding of the phenomenon.) In the article, Freud posits a scenario in which one's feelings towards an object are conflicting; in one sense, the object is known and recognizable – familiar – while at the same instance one also feels that the object is not something one has seen – it is unfamiliar. This dissonance between emotions is what Freud calls the uncanny. [1]

The Uncanny

The uncanny can be any number of things: it can be returning to your hometown, only to find that many of the businesses and homes you grew up with have been sold, destroyed, or simply revamped; it can be meeting the relative of someone whom you know well; it can even simply be flying to some distant location and experiencing the sunset at a different hour. When we interact with some new stimulus, the first thing we do is to try and discern what it is that we already know about this thing from what we know about other things like it. Next, we attempt to classify the new thing, so that we may attempt to operate around it with some kind of certainty. Now, let us posit that of this new thing, one minute detail, one indiscriminate quality, is not what we expected – then the rules which we had previously ascribed to this thing no longer definitely hold. It's like tripping on a misplaced shoe in your own home. [1]

When you trip over a shoe in your house, what is the first thing you feel? Are you confused why the shoe was there? Do you rationalize that someone must have carelessly left it there and move on? No. You get angry. More so, you are angry at the shoe because it interrupted your previously familiar activity. Humans thrive on familiarity and predictability – without it we would not be able to operate at all, because at an elementary level even our concepts of cause and effect – that which allows us to do anything in this world with certainty – are governed by the simple fact that we have seen something happen so many times that we can only assume that it will happen again. [2] So yes, we do initially feel confused, but this confusion, the unfamiliarity, when linked with the original sense of the familiar, breeds anger, as does anything which people do not immediately understand.

The Uncanny Valley

Even since the 17th century, man's desire to replicate the human form with machines has been strong. In 1810, mechanist Henri Maillardet produced an automatous doll-like figure which not only utilized human-like movements but even wrote down poetry and drew pictures; it could almost be seen as a God-complex – man feels powerful and fearless in front of all but God, so he attempts to become God himself. [3]

How the concept of the uncanny relates to that of robotics should be obvious, but as always, it is the first person to name something, not discover it, who gets the credit. (Sir Isaac Newton wasn't the first person to discover gravity, he was merely the first one to properly conceptualize it.) In 1970, Masahiro Mori published his paper “The Uncanny Valley,” and thus coined the term. In the paper, Mori describes climbing a mountain. When climbing a mountain, the altitude of a climber does not uniformly change with regards to the climber's distance from the summit. He uses this example to illustrate a graph which displays non-direct relations between two variables: familiarity and human likeness. Mori posits that as the human likeness of a robot increases, so does one's familiarity with the robot, until the human likeness comes to a point where it, for lack of a better expression, hits too close to home, and familiarity suddenly drops. It is this point which he describes as the uncanny valley. [4]

The reason the uncanny valley exists is due to how we initially classify our subject. At the lower-end of human likeness, we are judging the robot as a robot, which is an unfamiliar class to begin with. Any human-like characteristics are noticed as an attempt to imitate the human form, and are thus welcome, and almost cute in some sense. It has always been said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” However, as one approaches the uncanny valley, the initial framework upon which the subject is judged changes – it ceases to be seen as a robot and is now viewed as a fellow living, breathing human being. Of course, imperfect, non-human-like qualities are still present, but now these are the attributes which stand out, as opposed to before where the human qualities were most apparent. Now, instead of being a robot imitating a human it is a human who is doing a bad job at being a human. Before what was the unfamiliar mocking the familiar is now something familiar with uncanny, unfamiliar aspects.

The Second Uncanny Valley


Mori's concept of the uncanny valley only applies to robots which are approaching human likeness – that is, at the far right of the graph, the subject in question is indistinguishable from an actual human. In our current society not only are robots becoming more human-like but humans are also becoming more robot-like, either in abilities or appearance. From this a new problem arises where humans could themselves become victim to the uncanny valley. This point is what Jamais Cascio has dubbed the second uncanny valley. Cascio proposes that as technology advances, a second uncanny valley could arise, with the second trough being at the point where transhuman-enhancements are both present and apparent. Instead of applying to adaptations like artificial limbs, where the aim is to emulate and restore human likeness as much as possible, the transhuman – or H+ – technologies aim to improve the abilities of the human body beyond what would normally be possible, be it eyesight, muscle strength, or cognition.

So long as these enhancements remain within a perceived norm of human behavior, a negative reaction is unlikely, but once individuals supplant normal human variety and become super-human, revulsion can be expected. This is exemplified in people's initial reactions to the cyborg collective known as “The Borg” in the Star Trek franchise, who bear extremely noticeable enhancing prosthetics, or the super-humanly strong cyborgs of the Terminator series. However, it can be hypothesized that once the technologies gain further distance from human norms, H+ individuals would cease to be judged on human levels and instead be regarded as separate entities altogether – this point is what has been dubbed posthuman, and it is here that familiarity rises once again towards acceptance and out of the second uncanny valley. [5]

However, one could argue that this second uncanny valley is actually our standard uncanny valley, shifted over. You see, the uncanny valley cannot be a static plot, as people's attitudes and what they are familiarly with are constantly in flux. Show one of the modern androids from the videos previously displayed to someone from the 17th century and he or she would surely be far more repulsed by the subject than someone from the 21st century. This effect can be seen throughout history. One example would be the existence of homosexuality is our culture. Fifty years ago, a man and a woman in a state of embrace was the norm; it was the familiar. A scene of two men in loving embrace would then obviously have elicited a feeling of unease and repulsion, even as it does for some today, but today that scene is far less repulsive (to the average person, there are still some idiots...) and is quickly becoming one which is readily accepted in society. The nature of the uncanny can and will change, and only time will tell whether in the studies of robotics or transhumanism if the uncanny valley presents a significant problem for the assimilation of new technologies into society.

Other Interesting Web Pages on The Uncanny Valley

The Uncanny Valley by Masahiro Mori
The Uncanny by Sigmund Freud
Subjective ratings of robot video clips for human likeness, familiarity, and eeriness: An exploration of the uncanny valley
Almost too Human and too Lifelike for Comfort - an uncanny valley research blog by Stephanie Lay
The Second Uncanny Valley by Jamais Cascio

References

1.Freud, Sigmund. “The Uncanny.”
2.Hume, David. “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.”
3.Grenville, Bruce. “The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture.”
4.Mori, Masahiro. “The Uncanny Valley.”
5.Cascio, James. “The Second Uncanny Valley.”

StumbleUpon Menagerie 1

Here are more sites which have been tickling my entertainment bone lately, mostly culled from StubmleUpon.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New Stuffs!

So I've redone the look of the site a bit, I hope people likes.

There's the new sidebar which includes an RSS feed finally, as well as links to all my mixes which are up on The Pirate Bay.

Rock.

\m/



Also, on a pretty random note, I've just added a chunky section to the Uncanny Valley Wikipedia article on transhumanism and a supposed second uncanny valley. It's my first Wiki entry, so I apologize if I'm a little excited. This was done for my Cyborg Society class, and an article which I finished tonight should be up on the Cyborg Database soon...ish.

Monday, March 3, 2008

One more thing...

I've just found the full pilot episode of Chin n' Dale: Rescue Rangers on YouTube.

I couldn't count how many times I watched this on tape as kid. All I'm missing now is the premier of Gizmo Duck in the made-for-TV movie of Duck Tales and an archive of the origin of my obsession with television would be complete.



To the Rescue Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A few things...

...which have been cheering me up lately:
  • The latest episode of Lost featured a guest spot by Fisher Stevens, known to many as The Plague from one of my favorite films of all time, Hackers.

  • Reading through the Wikipedia article on Ipaetus, one of Saturn's moons, which has a number of odd, unexplained features including a huge ridge which spans the equator, but only on the lighter, ice covered side of the yin-yang colored moon.

  • The fact that the movie Twister was, "[r]ated PG-13 for intense depiction of very bad weather."

  • The fact that a group of ferrets is called a business.

  • This video which translates the visual elements of the game of life into audio:


  • Reading through all of the old xkcd comics.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Daft Punk's Software!!

Now, let me first say, this song is kinda catchy, but it has nothing to do with Kanye. really, his rapping is quite subpar in general, and this track is no exception. No, it's only because probably the best DP song ever written is sampled in it.

The reason I'm posting this vid is because when Daft are finally revealed (which takes over two and a half minutes - fuck you and your ego Kanye!) the camera swoops overhead and you can get a few glimpses of the custom software which DP had built for their show.

Daft Punk' live setup was further described in drool-worthy detail by Pitchfork a few months back.

Link: Kanye West and Daft Punk - Stronger live @ The Grammys 2008

The Front Fell Off

I've been enamored with this video lately:


"Well, the ship was towed outside of the environment."
"Into another environment."
"No, no, no, it's been towed beyond the environment... it's not in the environment."
"Well what's out there?"
"Nothing's out there!"
"Well there must be something out there."
"There's nothing out there. All there is is sea and birds and fish."

"And?"
"And 20,000 tons of crude oil."
"And what else?"
"And a fire."
"And anything else?"
"And the part of the ship that the front fell off...

But there's nothing else out there - it's a complete void!

The environment is perfectly safe."
Link: YouTube

Free!

Wired has just published an excellent article by Chris Anderson entitled, "Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business." I have frequently been getting into somewhat-heated discussions with both my peers and others about the current state of media and how things like P2P and YouTube will be affecting the sale of media in the future. More often than not, I'm saying that somehow everything will end up free or at an extremely minimal cost to the user, while the others complain that without a money-based consumer-producer based relationship, there won't be anything to fund any of the media.

Well this article takes everything I've been trying to say (and more) and makes it coherent and kicks the ass of anyone who I had been arguing with before.
Thanks to Gillette, the idea that you can make money by giving something away is no longer radical. But until recently, practically everything "free" was really just the result of what economists would call a cross-subsidy: You'd get one thing free if you bought another, or you'd get a product free only if you paid for a service.

Over the past decade, however, a different sort of free has emerged. The new model is based not on cross-subsidies — the shifting of costs from one product to another — but on the fact that the cost of products themselves is falling fast. It's as if the price of steel had dropped so close to zero that King Gillette could give away both razor and blade, and make his money on something else entirely. (Shaving cream?)

Link: Free! Why $0.00 is the Future of Business on Wired.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Are YOU addicted...


...to the internets? Dr. Kimberly Young probably thinks so. She has written a book as well as launched a website dedicated to the subject of internet-related addictions, including cybersex, online gambling, and eBay.

Sites like this just reek of late-90's cyberphobia, only this time with a deceiving Web 2.0 shell. She even includes a bogus "DSM-based" list of criteria under which nearly anyone who uses the internet in his or her daily life could be classified an addict. This kind of pseudo-scientific babble parading itself as psychology is what leads to things like the over-diagnosis of ADD and ADHD in children in this country.

Two glaring hypocrisies stand out as my favorites. First is the fact that links to any kind of real help (therapists, info on schools and kids) for this pseudo-disorder are only found under the "Professional" tab, implying that anyone who is less than affluent can cure themselves by *shock!* buying her book and self-help tapes. I also find the featured sidebar on the right baffling - "End your addiction to the internet by using the internet more!" Truly some groundbreaking logical minds are at work here.

For a compelling argument as to why people who claim that one of their loved ones or they themselves are completely full of bullpoo, check out the terrific Boston Legal episode Word Salad Days. It features a cogent argument by lawyer Brad Chase against the case for internet and other non-addictive substance addiction, as well as one of my favorite Boston Legal moments ever where attorney Alan Shore (James Spader) indeed becomes afflicted with the afore mentioned word salad.

"It is earth, wind, and cheese. It is cheese."

Link: Center for Internet Addiction Recovery via Stumble

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New MacBook Pro with Multi-Touch

Apple has just announced their newest models of the MacBook and MacBook Pro, and while they both have the standard upgrades in processor speed and hard drive and memory capacity, one stands out - a multi-touch trackpad on the MacBook Pro. With this you can now use two-fingered gestures to zoom, spin, and pinch just like on the iPhones.

Since the multi-touch trackpad was already announced for the MacBook Air, it's not much of a shocker to see it included on the Pro, but why not the standard MacBook? C'mon Apple, show the (slightly more) lower-end consumer some love!

Consumers need love!

Finally, my list of free Mac apps!

No blog of any fervent Mac user would be complete without his list of most used applications. Also, all of these are free. I suppose that's about all you need to hear.

Adium – The best IM client for OS X, and better than anything you'll find for Windows as well. Very customizable and versatile.



AppZapper – Okay, this only allows you 5 deletions on the demo mode, but I have yet to even require that many on one boot of OS X.



Audacity – Excellent open source sound editor for both OS X and Windows. It takes a little getting used to the GUI but you'll wonder why you ever bothered cracking SoundForge.


AzureusThe Bittorrent client for the enthusiast. Sure, Transmission is easier on both the CPU and the human brain, but there aren't nearly as many options to optimize your connection. I recommend finding and downloading a pre-3.0 release to easily avoid the unnecessary Vuze interface.

coconutBattery – A great little utility to have around if you've got a laptop – displays both the factory and current battery capacity and charge.



DockColor – An easier alternative than customizing your entire dock.




Firefox – If you're not much of a webophile, you can stick with Safari, but if your browsing is anything but, you'll need Firefox for its versatility and extensions.



GrandPerspective – Great for finding big chunks of data you had forgotten were taking up valuable HDD space.



Gridwars 2 – Best. Game. Ever. There's no beating the challenge, the replayability, the simple joy in staring at your screen as dozens of technicolor shapes and particles bounce and dance around as you blast baddies and black holes. Use the keyboard controls, because the mouse controls tend to be a bit sticky and cumbersome.

iStat Menus – When compiling this list I had almost forgotten I even had this program – that's how seemlessly integrates into OS X. Simply choose which stats (and how to display them if you really want to get tweaking) you wish to display, and there they are, immediately available to you in the menu bar.

iStumbler – Another essential if you have a laptop. iStumbler gives you far more comprehensive view of the wireless networks within your range, including signal strength, encryption type, and which channel the network is operating on.


n – Another great game for pick-up-and-play, you run around (like a gazelle, as one of my friends has noted) collecting time/oxygen packs trying to reach the door while not getting killed on the way. A great implementation of classic gaming techniques into a sleek modern presentation.

NeoOffice – Fuck Word, NeoOffice is free, open source, and not only does everything M$ Office can, but supports gobs more fire formats as well.



Pic2Icon – Better than shelling out cash for Candy Bar, Pic2Icon lets you take any picture you have and instantly convert it so that you can copy and paste it onto any file or folder you'd like.



Senuti – When my last hard drive died, I almost became religious for the simple fact that this program existed, as the only thing which I managed to save was the music on my iPod. Senuti lets you easily copy files from any iPod into your own iTunes (or other) library.

The Unarchiver – Unzips nearly any format under the sun.




UnRarX – Handles some larger rar files more reliably than The Unarchiver.




VLC Player – Plays every video format under the sun – why would you have anything else?




WinClone – A much needed utility (that should have been included in Leopard) which lets you image your NTFS-formatted Boot Camp partition for backing up, considering Time Machine won't touch anything but Mac OS X formatted drives.



xACT – If you download lossless music and use iTunes you'll need this to convert those flacs into wavs.




And here are the Firefox extensions without which I would not be able to function sanely in the online world:

Adblock Plus – Does exactly what it says.
All-in-One Sidebar – A great extension if you hate having to find the Download window everytime you get a new file, All-in-One Sidebar lets you open nearly any window in a highly customizable sidebar.
Faviconize Tab – If you've constantly got a bunch of the same websites open, Faviconize the tab to remove the title and save tons of real estate on that tab bar.
FireFTP – Great FTP client which loads inside Firefox.
StumbleUpon – If you don't have it, you don't even deserve to learn about it. Just go get it. Now. You'll thank me later. And your grades/work will rue me.
Tab Mix Plus – The crux of my Firefox setup, allows you to customize how your tabs and tab bar appear and are used to no end. My special favorite is the ability to expand the tab bar to have multiple rows, letting you see your multitasking webpage sprawl in all its glory.

Also, the three big fixes in the recent 10.5.2 release (the list view for stacks, the Time Machine menu bar icon, and the fixed Airport drivers (no more KPs!!)) are turning out great. Altho curiously enough, after I recently installed iLife '08 my Finder icon has disappeared - it still functions perfectly and you can click on it and everything, but thee simply is no icon. Odd.

UPDATE: Thanks to Avart from XLT, I've learned about Max, an excellent freeware audio converter which supports way more formats than xACT does.