Saturday, February 14, 2009

Illuminatica: Me Revolution

If you like good, hard industrial rock, check out Illuminati/Illuminatica's cool new version of Time 4 Revolution, called Me Revolution.

Abstract ideas

From the dictionary: Abstract:
  • Considered apart from concrete existence: an abstract concept.
  • Not applied or practical; theoretical. See synonyms at theoretical.
  • Thought of or stated without reference to a specific instance: abstract words like truth and justice.
  • Impersonal, as in attitude or views.
  • Having an intellectual and affective artistic content that depends solely on intrinsic form rather than on narrative content or pictorial representation: abstract painting and sculpture.

I just had a realization about another reason why I don't use chat or texting much: it does not fit well with abstract ideas, it is better fitted for small specifics like what time the train comes in.

I am not very interested in chitchat. I am not very interested in specifics. I am not very interested in personal details, including my own. Most damning: I am not very interested in people. I am not warm and personable and cozy. I'm sorry, it's just the way it is.

I am very interested in abstract ideas. If you can talk with me about a concept or philosophy which interests me, we can talk till the cows come home. But talk to me about specific details in mine or somebody else's life, and I lose interest after two minutes.

Occasionally somebody will be offended that I haven't asked them about how the specific details in their life is going. Well, basically I'm not interested, and I don't expect them to be interested in those things in my life. I could fake it and have more friends, but if there's anything I dislike it's fake, so I guess that won't happen.

Basically I like to think about, and thus talk about, ideas which have broad application. If it can't be applied to life in the bigger perspective, what's the point, is how I feel.

Whedon's Dollhouse

Joss "don't call me Josh" Whedon is premiering a new TV show, Dollhouse with the delectable Eliza Dushku (Faith from Buffy). (I liked her show Tru Calling).

I thought at first that this would be another web-only show like Dr. Horrible, but it's real TV. (!)

Funny enough, I had just been thinking about something, because I got a note on YouTube that LisaNova has a new webisode up: I realized that even with creators I greatly admire, I'm not all that likely to be very interested in video shows made just for the web, meaning made on a shoe-string budget.

I'm not saying great shows can't be made that way, but I'm not sure I have yet seen any. Not ones that are consistently watchable anyway. It's usually something filmed poorly in somebody's back yard, with cheap-ass customes and so on. Making a good film or show takes a lot of talent, work, and money. And if the money is missing, you have to make up for it with even more work and talent. So, not easy!

Of course this doesn't change the fact that digital production and distribution has made the entry level far lower than ever before, and that's wonderful. And I think it's only a matter of time before we see really professionally produced shows and films made primarily for Net distribution. I see no reason something has to have a TV or DVD release in order to be commercially successful, except that the bandwidth needed for Net distribution is a very new event yet, and the interface and mentality for it are very shaky yet.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stoned on Letterman

Joaquin Phoenix seems to take a stab at Farah Fawcett's record for most stoned guest on Letterman. Weird stuff.

TTL had pointed me to the Phoenix/Letterman video, and I asked him: "If you don't think he was stoned, what did you like about his performance on Letterman here?"

He answered:
He portrays an eccentric that is very sensitive and at the same time gutsy, also blurry and at the same time perceptive.

The overall rhythm of his acting (movements) is interesting. The way he remarks about that small cut on Letterman's thumb, and the way he places his chewing gum under the table (being apologetic about the habit) to later pick it up again, is brilliant.

If he is simply acting, he is a genius actor. There are several moments where for a long time he says absolutely nothing and moves very little, and the audience is exhilarated. The tension is unbelievable.

If this is a PR trick for marketing the new movie, it is brilliant marketing (on par with Salvador Dali's best stunts), witness the fact that everyone is talking about this event. Even Demi Moore tweeted about it earlier today and was blown away by it. And even she, a professional actress herself, couldn't tell whether it was a role or not, which is saying a lot.

What I liked about his performance? Rhythm and tension.

US porn industry seeks multi-billion dollar bailout

US porn industry seeks multi-billion dollar bailout, article.
"... as long as the government is handing out money, we want to be there to take it."
[...] "The 13-billion-dollar industry is in no fear of collapse," they say. "But why take chances?" "

I agree. If people who have been grossly careless with other people's money are bailed out, why shouldn't more responsible people be?
And since I am usually, with Domai, considered part of that industry for worse, I want to be part of it for better too, so I want money also. Sure, I'm not in the US, but most of my customers are, about two thirds. I'll be happy with a two thirds cut, thanks. :-)

Law of Attraction

I was asked if the comments under the Tease posts were what I expected. Well, I don't really expect or want things. Sometimes I just have something to say or show, and sometimes I just throw a stone in the pond and let the ripples go where they want. Below is more fall-off from that.

I was much into the "Law of Attraction" a few years ago, and since then it has gone mainstream with the movie The Secret*, but I've discovered there's a higher version of it: wanting what the Universe wants, and letting the Universe do the steering. Perhaps you want a big car, but perhaps that is not what is best for the Universe right now, and if not, it probably is not even good for yourself in the bigger picture.

Aniko wrote:
I met the principle of the "Law of Attraction" last year, but I kind of discovered it for myself some years before. It states that it is what you want yourself that you attract into your life. It can be also be conceived on a plain psychological level: you are open for what you need.

It may be positive-looking, or negative-looking things.

I experimented it, and it works quite well... for me. It means: you have to take full responsibility for what happens to you. And ask yourself, especially when it is weird and unpleasant: why did I want that? Why did I need that ?

Sometimes there is an answer. Sometimes not. But it is worth trying.

Well, I am not good at philosophical "we", I will give a personal example as illustration. For long, I was always attracted to guys who were not interested in me, or who were thousands of miles away: unreachable people. Each time I was sad. And I became even more sad when I realized that this happening over and over again. I had the feeling that there is a curse on me... For many years.

And then I discovered that actually I was the one doing it to myself. I wanted it to be that way. And maybe it was "good" for me. Because I had had bad experiences, I was afraid of having a real relation with a real boy. So I was always trying to reach unreachable guys, and running away from the real guys interested in me. This behavior, though hurting me, actually protected me from something I was much more afraid of: having a real relation.

When I understood the underlying fear, I could start to work on it. It's a long process.

Well, I don't know exactly what the people want for themselves. These are things one can only understand for oneself. The ones who hang out with unreachable girls, or that they don't want to reach. The ones getting involved in all sorts of games, financial, sexual, emotional etc.

I can imagine that a girl who is teasing the guys is actually afraid of intimacy. Then, with her behavior, she is attracting only the guys who see her as a sexual toy, and actually somehow she does not want to be that way, so she reject them. Vicious circle.

I guess the guy who is always hanging out with "bombas" also does not want to have a real relation.

Anyway. No general explanation. Just that if the same situation happens over and over again, then probably we want it. And if we don't like what we want, it is time to start trying to understand why we want it.

Hum. Sorry for being so long...

* I think the Law of Attraction has some workability, but what does it ultimately mean? The promotion of the film says that all these great historical names knew the "secret", but it does not mention that they also were geniuses, and also worked their butts off.

Cactus JH

I really don't want to stir up any nationalism around here, trust me, but this singing is just awesome. The girls are 6-8.

Hey Jude a la Nippon

I've heard from various sources that many (adult) Japanese rock musicians play western pop hits absolutely perfectly, but they don't understand the words they are singing. They simply seem to have this engineering-like ability to duplicate something 100%.

Which is interesting, because I've sometimes observed that some people who have a very powerful creative talent are unable to duplicate something others have made, they always make a hash of it, or change it significantly.

It may be that the two kinds of ability are virtually mutually exclusive.

Fatal attraction

Under the Tease post, TC wrote a long and thoughtful comment, from which I've extracted these small bits:

The *pretty/beautiful* woman has, somehow, been granted something akin to knighthood (is it a Dame? I dunno.) due only to her beauty and...she knows it. With this unspoken granting of [misplaced] *power* she proceeds to see how far she can get this man, who is following her (leaving a trail of drool, along the way! lol!), to *jump* for her every perceived whim and need. Guess what the *reward* is, if the poor dude has completed "the test" *properly*: the big, um, *carrot*...for her, it is often marriage (apparently) and...just [simple] sex for him...which was, ultimately and sadly, the only thing he was really ever after!

[...] The best thing for a "frustrated" young man to do would be to leave the area and avoid a girl who is using her body and the suggestion of sex to tease him.

Yeah, that's gonna happen! You might as well tell the moon to stand up for itself and leave the Earth.

I think there are two different attractions, usually confused: sexual, and aesthetic. But in both cases, we are helpless. The attraction is absolutely insane. It's like heroin. All rationality goes poof.

E-commerce "fail" (warning: bitch-fest)

If you'd told me when I first got on the web in my tender youth (well, almost) that in the year 2009 many commercial web sites would still be clunky and frustrating, I would have been exceedingly skeptical. After fifteen years of development? No way.

And yet, this is what I often find. For example I just found myself having to buy a couple of ebooks from something called Powell's Books, and, well, good lord.

OK, so the publisher, a small one, had chosen to use the Powell's site instead of just doing it themselves with Paypal or with Lulu. I don't see why, but OK, maybe it'll work.

First impression is OK, despite me having to go back and forth between the two sites to add the three e-books I want. Because they use not only credit cards, but also Paypal, so it should be dead easy.

Well, then, click the "check out with Paypal" button.
Message: to use paypal, check out with our normal system, and then select paypal.

So it turns out that I have to wade through four pages of registration, information, and surveys in order to make the order.
Oooh, but wait, it turns out that I have ordered two copies of one of the books (why would anybody want to pay for two "copies" of an e-book?). I'm pretty sure that was not what the shopping cart showed, but no matter, I'll have to go back and correct it. And then of course I have to log in again, and fill out part of the forms. (Oooh, I forgot, I had to register a username/login also, first of all.)

So I finally get through, make the order. I get a confirmation email with a download link. I click on download for the first book, and what do I get? A 1.4kb ".ascm" file. I have no clue what that is, and neither does my Mac. It's way too small to be an e-book, obviously. So I've mailed them, hoping a conscious being is on post to help me. And that's where things stand now.

And by the way, it seems the publisher has two identical "order" pages, where one of them was supposed to be a "contact" page. So there's no way to contact them.

I really doubt these people have studied Jakob Nielsen, or even just the market leaders.

Update: So at least Powell support was very quick indeed, cudos. It turns out the tiny files work with "Adobe Digital Editions", which as you might guess is a super-paranoid digital rights protection scheme which makes sure that if you want to lend a copy to a friend, you have to print it or buy a hard copy.

... I was wrong: it does not even allow you to print, not these books anyway. Wow.

... As I might have predicted, the book won't even allow me to copy text so I can get my Mac to make text-to-speech files from it. Man, I hate rampant paranoia.

And of course the Adobe DE interface is non-standard, so none of the usual, standard options work. Like Kay's Powertools.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Big Pig

I found Big Pig many years ago as a record store had a fire sale and I bought a bunch of bargain LPs and EPs based merely on the covers, since I never listen to radio. I've found many great bands that way.
I've never seen any videos with them before today. I love her voice, so it's no surprise to me that the girl is so cute.

Green Wing again

... No, seriously, if you only buy one TV comedy this year, make it Green Wing. It is almost uniquely inspired, and definitely inspiredly unique. 

"The Basic Basics of Writing" by Algis Budrys

"The Basic Basics of Writing" by Algis Budrys, long article by my old writing mentor, about how to write stories for a professional market.

"...suppose you want to learn to write—to somehow transmit stories from your mind to the minds of readers."

Funny enough, that's not my problem, personally. I can do that. My problem is how to make up stories worth transmitting.

"That's not art"

Under the "Dotty" post, Joe commented:

"Eolake's definition of art is so ridiculously broad as to encompass anything"

I agreed.

Often when people talk about what's art and what's not, they use it as a value judgement, not a functional judgement. When you look at two paintings and say one is art and the other is not, what you're really saying is you like the one and not the other. I don't see much value of that, since it'll keep us arguing till the end of time because the terms used keep us from recognizing that we are merely discussing taste.

Even the feeblest child's drawing or the cheesiest souvenir figurine are art. When we recognize that, we then can have meaning talks about it's function, and discussions about if we like it or not, or whether it's effective art or not. Then we are going places, if we're lucky.

Pascal argued:
You mean, if someone doesn't even TRY to be creative or any other effort, if someone just lazily botches a job -and often a poor imitation job of someone else's creative effort- you STILL consider it art?
Geez, Joe was right : you really have a broad definition!

Eolake said:
If a car is so sloppily built it falls apart half a mile off the dealer's lot, it's still a car.

A sadistic, murderous nazi is still a human being.

We might in anger say "that's not a car" or "he's not human", but if we wish to discuss things rationally, let's try to at least not let our emotions move around the basic definitions of the things we talk about.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Book publishers object to Kindle's text-to-voice feature

Book publishers object to Kindle's text-to-voice feature, article.

TTL pointed me to this one, and I echo his words about it: un-f***ing-believable!

I guess next thing we'll have Hollywood studios suing to get licence payments for camcorders sold because people could make their own movies and thus undermine Hollywood profits.

About a tease

It's a funny thing about men/boys: if a hot girl which we want is hanging out with us but not having sex, we feel she is dishonest and mean. She's being "a tease". We blame her for us being attracted to her and for all that sexual frustration we feel.

I thought about it while watching Just Friends, which is pretty much about that (and good fun too). You can't trust everything you see in movies, but I've actually heard one of my friends in the old days complain about it too. This guy had a talent for hanging around with the hottest girls, seriously. One time I escorded two of them to the cinema, on was a really pretty brunette with big gazoombas, and the other was a petite blonde who was just stunning. I had one on each arm. Didn't suck!
... Ahem, got lost in memories there... my point was that this guy once ranted to me about what was wrong with these girls: here he was, they were hanging out, and he was perfectly available, yet for some reason none of them were his girlfriend. They were just being so cruel and disingenous!

Bert commented:
By that logic, the "prettiest girl in town" can't have any male friend(s), unless she gets in bed with any and all males she meets... what a sad, weird and twisted view of the world! Do you really think that way???

Eolake said:
No. It's a philosophical generalization.

TC said:
"somehow, there seems to be an unspoken *rule* that a pretty/beautiful woman is expected to give herself up, if she is in the presence of a man that is interested in her?"

No no, no, not an unspoken rule, just an irrational expectation, at lizard-brain level.

Skellington sculptures

Skellington sculptures. I really like those with wings.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Slinkachu little people art.

Sony's $$$%£@$!! gadget

Maybe The Onion has been reading my blog items bitching about Sony players' poor interface, or maybe I'm not alone (and neither is Sony). In any case, they (The Onion) has made this news item. (Warning: more cuss words than a South Park episode.) [Thanks to Eric.]

Bloodhound Gang

"That night I lost myself to ruby red lips, milky white skin and baby blue eyes... the name was Russell..."

Monday, February 09, 2009

Wearable computing

Wearable computing, article/video. I'm not sure what to think about this. Will it ever be practical?


Preikestolen (Norwegian for the pulpit). Nice place for a base jump, like with a hang glider.

Hard to do

Here's a fun article reminiscing about hard old days of making pictures in a darkroom.

It's a continuing puzzle about the human condition, why do we appreciate things that are hard to do, just because they are hard to do? It makes no sense at all.

My most intense darkroom work was done when I was a teenager. I'd set it up in my family's "workshop" room, which had piles of tools and old unfinished hobby projects (like a crossbow my father had started to make, but only ever half finished). The room was filthy. I think the only way I achieved relatively dust-free pictures was by moving sluggishly so I didn't stir up the dust.

" is a free proxy that will unblock websites for your viewing pleasure. Our free service will enable you to unblock any sites that may be blocked due to your network at work or school."
There's some early evidence that it works also against national censored sites. For example, surfing Domai in China.

New Kindle? (updated2)

The next generation Kindle ebook reader should be coming out now.

Irritating that even at this late stage, neither the original Kindle nor the Sony Reader are sold on the Eastern side of the Atlantic. Come on, people.

Update: The new Kindle (NYT article) has text-to-speech! I've been asking for that! See my post "Kindle, I wish it could read to me".

I hope it's a good voice. And I hope the screen is significantly more contrasty. They say more "crisp", I guess that means contrasty, since the sharpness was already excellent.

Update: As usual, TidBITS gives more solid data: no, the contrast isn't higher, sadly, but it has 16 shades of grey instead of 4. (In my experience 8 or 16 shades of grey is all you need to display line art or text perfectly.)

Pretty faces video

After seeing this (Warning: pathologically obese and deformed people in this video.)

I decided that I could do the "yin" version of that. So I made this video of pretty faces from Domai.
... Which I hope will spread a little beauty, and perhaps even help promote Domai. (It would be nice if it got a bit of viral status.)

BTW, does anybody know how youtube selects the poster frame for a video? I thought it was in the middle, but this one is around 1.20, which seems random in a 3.50 video.

Space shuttle landing

Space shuttle landing, video from the cockpit. All the way from space to ground.

Tarran said:
Not quite from space: the video starts at 70,000 feet ~21,000 meters altitude.
There is no physical border between space and the Earth's atmosphere: the air gets thinner and thinner the higher one climbs. Rather people arbitrarily choose an altitude as the boundary.
The U.S. govt uses 80km as its boundary. Some standards bodies use 100 km as the boundry, mainly because that is the altitude at which the air becomes too thin to aerodynamically support aircraft travelling at below orbital velocity.

eolake said:
You can fly as high as 100km? Kewl.
(That would seem to me to be the minimum boundary to set then.)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Paco House

Sometimes I think the Japanese are from a different planet. This is a house! Three by three by three meters, no windows. And it's not even all that cheap.

This is not so crazy, though.

Well, that clinches it

Human clock

Clock in human shapes.
I'm amazed that it is synchronized exactly with the clock on my Mac. Yes, I'm well aware that they are both surely synchronized with the same central online clock, but you just don't often see that kind of fit, even with computers.

Larina's eyes

Amanda Palmer

Nice song, and fun.
But of course there are some things (quite many actually) that you're not allowed to make fun of.

Green Wing

I'm re-watching Green Wing.
Fresh, insane, hysterical.
Warmly recommended.

Criminally it's not released in the US, but Amazon UK has it, and Amazon US also sells the UK version.