November 20th, 2006 | music
Playing live at KEXP
experimental guitar music
November 19th, 2006 | brainjuice
When was the last time I wrote a character wearing shades? Was it Spider? Jones has his goggles, but he doesn’t wear them much.
I was watching this video Fraction sent me. It’s a collection of the last thirty seconds of teasers from a bunch of CSI MIAMI episodes — the bit before they smash-cut to the main title sequence. Now, you know how CSI works — the teaser sets up the crime, the protagonist cranks off a smart line, smash in the titles. Right?
This video — it’s on YouTube – is surreally compelling. David Caruso – the Carusobot, as we know him — hits every one of his last-line zingers with the same cadence. “What are you going to do, Carusobot?” “We-e-e…are going to find ourselves a bear rapist.” Crash in The Who, main titles.
But in almost all of them, he does the same action. “We-e-e…” …and he puts on his shades before doing the rest of the line. (Apparently, they’re referred to on set as “the sunglasses of justice”.)
The shades are crucial to CSI MIAMI, as they are to cyberpunk fiction (and the techno-thriller, both of which CSI shares DNA with). For the Carusobot IS a deranged, implacable machine. You cannot see his eyes. He therefore shows no human emotion. It’s the Uncanny Valley equation: you can pull the face into any expression you like, but the eyes are dead. In cyberpunk, as Bruce Sterling said in MIRRORSHADES, the shades are vital both to conceal emotion and to hide the fact that you’re unslept, drugged half to death and blatantly insane.
(Also: THE BLUES BROTHERS.)
To don the shades at the beginning of a story is the equivalent of Superman changing into costume (or, in a more obscure read, James Spader putting on a black shirt at the top of SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE).
With so many stories behind me, I have to be careful about repeating visual tics. But I love the idea of putting mythic weight behind something as simple as putting on a pair of shades.
The semiotics of shades. I tell you, I am fucking losing it…
(crosspost from Bad Signal)
November 18th, 2006 | mobilesignals
Apologies to anyone trying to read the site over the last hour and finding it cycling through different designs. I feel like the place needs a repaint.
NOTE: I am just testing pre-baked themes. Nothing here is permanent, so don’t freak out if you come in and everything’s flowery…
November 18th, 2006 | Uncategorized
November 16th, 2006 | researchmaterial
November 16th, 2006 | brainjuice
Another research question, since my datamining has been inconclusive at best. Again, this one is for people with an actual legal background, as opposed to people who have watched an episode of Boston Legal.
It’s my understanding that the Outer Space Treaty “places responsibility for all national outer space activities on respective government signatories, even when a launch is conducted by a private organization.”
Here’s my thing. If me, The Mad Scientist, decides to fire dumb rockets at Mars full of lichen or bacteria or other extremephiles — well, what’s to stop me? Does international law say that, even though I’m firing them from my own Private Volcano Island Base on the equator, my country of birth must have a say in what I’m doing? Is there, in fact, any legal structure or apparatus at all to prevent me from 1) going to Mars whenever I bloody well feel like it 2) polluting Mars in any way I deem fit?
Answers in email to warrene @ aol.com, please.
November 16th, 2006 | brainjuice
Seeing these all over Second Life today:
Copybot is a program designed to clone other people’s SL possessions. When someone sells an item in SL, they naturally have the option to limit what the purchaser does with it. People creating unique designs as a business enterprise don’t always want you to be able to issue infinite copies for free, after all.
The night before last, I was looking around a no-fire combat sandbox, where people design and test weapons and vehicles, when an argument broke out; a thing going by the name Nimrod Yaffle was cloning things out of other people’s inventories, and claiming he could freely do it because he’d been playing with Copybot with employees of SL creator/operators Linden Lab. All hell broke loose, in the sort of drama you can only find on the internet. Linden Lab’s first official response? If you feel your IP has been compromised by Copybot, we’ll sort of help you lodge a DMCA complaint in the US.
Businesses started shutting down moments later.
November 15th, 2006 | Uncategorized
November 15th, 2006 | researchmaterial
So here’s a thing I’ve been wondering. And I’d like to hear from people in the biology field about it (as opposed to people who’ve read a book, yes? EDIT: this is now in bold type for the people who think having read Kim Stanley Robinson somehow gives them an extra qualification).
Imagine I am a Mad Scientist. I have decided that sometime in the next forty years, I’m going to go to Mars. But I’d like it to be a bit more hospitable than it is now. So I’m thinking about seeding it with plant life. I’m going to send a rocket, with extra-tough construction to stop cosmic rays from sterilising the package, that’s going to chuck viable seeds all over the Martian surface.
So I’m looking for a useful plant that’s going to survive:
* the temperature. Mars goes as low as âˆ’140 Â°C (133 K), as high as 20 Â°C (293 K), with a mean of âˆ’63 Â°C (210 K).
* the atmosphere. It’s about a kilopascal, or 1% of Earth’s atmospheric pressure — which is to say, being at sea level on Mars is like being 35 kilometres high on Earth. 95% of it is carbon dioxide. 2.7% nitrogen, argon 1.6%, oxygen 0.13%, carbon monoxide 0.07%, water vapor 0.02%, nitric oxide 0.01%, you get the idea.
* and the dirt. Obviously, no-one’s sure what’s going on with the water. But it appears you’re looking at a regolith that’s mostly basalt, possibly silica, and, of course, a fine dust of iron oxide. Gravity is, say, 40% of Earth’s.
I need a plant theoretically capable of surviving all that, and I want to know how it’d spread and generally what it’d do.
The terraforming theory goes as follows: more oxygen in the atmosphere would cool Mars further, but the atmosphere needs to be built up or else the surface remains a radiation hazard to humans. The trade-off against the oxygen increase is albedo gain — the surface gets darker, and thereby retains more heat. In the longterm, locking more heat in the surface could force out some of that supposed underground water.
Any attempt to terraform Mars is a multi-method operation. Just dropping some weird plants and hoping doesn’t get the job done. You combine it with any number of other methods. But this is the one that, in theory, determined, callous and very very rich people could do within 12 months of concept. So I’d like to know if there’s any such thing as a plant that could survive all this. I can be emailed at warrene @ aol.com.
And, yes, this is for a story — one I’ve had in mind for eight or nine years now.
November 14th, 2006 | Uncategorized
November 14th, 2006 | people I know
My friend Jhayne Holmes is trying to do something amazing right now.
She found an old cinema in Vancouver, built in 1910 and most recently used as a Bollywood house. It used to be The New York, where Neil Young and Sonic Youth once played. And it’s up for sale.
Jhayne wants to turn it into a 21st Century “multi-disciplinary arts facility featuring inspiring work from all over the globe that recaptures and surpasses its previous glory.” And she wants to call it Heart Of The World.
Heart of the World is to address the contemporary artistic and creative needs of the constantly evolving geographic location in which it is situated, offering competitive rates and a multi-faceted performance space. Complete with a full sized stage, a balcony with box seats, and a fully functional projection booth, the bones of the space hold limitless promise – able to show films, dance, theatrical productions, acoustic and amplified concerts, and cabaret events. In the foyer, artists both local and international will be able to advantageously display their work, whether it is photography, painting, drawing or sculpture. As a web presence, Heart of the World will offer podcasts of performances, a gallery of streaming video of performers, the chance to chat with featured artists, and up-to-date interviews, reviews and schedule listings.
What she needs right now is financing. She needs sponsors, she needs investment angels, she needs donors. And she needs endorsements: something as small as writing to pledge that you would perform or exhibit at Heart Of The World. All information is here in the link.