Mar 31

Stelarc: The Man with Three Ears

I first came upon the work of VICE and in particular VBS.TV a few months ago when I was introduced to a documentary of theirs where they actually got a chance to travel into North Korea and get a taste of what that culture is like.  I was pretty shocked that what is basically an internet newspaper and TV station managed to get that kind of access to North Korea and presented their video in a very well produced manor.  Especially considering that this was not too long after those two journalist finally got released from North Korea after a diplomatic mission by former President Bill Clinton.

I’ve slowly been becoming more and more of a fan of VBS.TV, particularly some of their shows that cover human oddities and sexuality, such as ‘A Vice Guide to Sex‘ (which I assure you is much more risque than it sounds).  Granted I also enjoy their other shows on art or global culture.

In any case, I came upon a particularly fascinating video today, posted over a year ago, from their Motherboard series about a man named Stelarc.  Stelarc is a strange fellow, to say the least.  He is a performance artist and I assume something of an engineer, and does live pieces incorporating himself into robots and other pieces of technology, and showing his body fusing with the machinery in some sort of cybernetic symbiosis.

The focus of this particular showing of his artwork is not only to display a lifetime of exhibits, but to showcase his newest project: growing a third ear on his arm and making it web enabled so people can log on and listen to life through his arm.  I kid you not, Enjoy!

Here is the video!

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Mar 30

‘Star Wars’ Admiral Ackbar poised to become school mascot!

The University of Mississippi, also known as ‘Ole Miss’, is apparently looking to replace it’s mascot and is allowing it’s students to choose.  The University is replacing the mascot because the current mascot is a slave-owning plantation owner lovingly referred to as ‘Colonel Reb’ and they feel he is no longer a suitable mascot.

A group of students that calls itself the Ole Miss Rebel Alliance had originally used Admiral Ackbar just as a way to promote a vote of ‘yes’ for student participation in the search for a Mascot. However, apparently the Admiral caught on quickly as a nominee himself.  For those that aren’t familiar with the Star Wars film, Admiral Ackbar is a squid-face-looking-alien that leads the rebel attack on the Death Star.

Some students were apparently already upset at the loss of their highly racist mascot that promoted the ‘southern rebellious spirit’.  The fact that Admiral Ackbar is now catching is causing more students to become upset with the process and even threaten to leave the school over the issue.

The folks threatening to leave are crazy, I think having Admiral Ackbar as a school mascot would be epically amazing!  I fully support the students at the University of Mississippi, and it appears Lucasfilm supports them as well!

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Mar 27

What is “White”?

When I was in high school I took an accelerated class that was constructed by Tuft’s University. It was called the EPIIC program, or Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship. My year the topic happened to be ‘Race & Racism’. We read, reviewed, debated and wrote about articles on race and racism from all different sources, all different viewpoints.

We reviewed the scientific aspects of race. Everything from modern DNA analysis, to heavily racialized studies of the past that studied the bone structure, body measurements, brain weight, and all sorts of stats from native Africans, native Asians, white Europeans, etc.

The use of science to somehow prove one race was more or less development, was perhaps closer to the neanderthal then other races, or perhaps had a bigger or more dense brain was a little disturbing to all of us. There is so much body-type variation from one person to another in any particular race I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. But apparently, if you take a lot of measurements from a huge array of samples there are common things that make us different from one race to another. In those days they used those differences and the scientific data collected about those differences as ways to prove one race was superior or inferior. But, in modern-day science, we’ve discovered that the DNA is barely different from one race to another, and those physical differences are just part of the spice of life.

But racism keeps on in this world. Close minded, culturally homogeneous, isolated people are hard to root out. I think it must just be part of the human psyche to want to be better than others, want to be more of a center of attention than others. Some people just find the outlet for those needs in Racism. Others find it in blogging about random crap =D

Some folks want more ways to identify themselves racially. I recently read an article about a group of white, southern Americans who wanted to start a grass-roots “write-in” campaign for ‘Confederate White American’ on the Census. The US Census offers an ‘other’ line where you can write in whatever you choose.

Our Census doesn’t have a lot of options for race. The only race that has a lot of ‘racial variety’ choices are Hispanics, who can choose from about 4 sub-sets or define their own. Asians and Pacific Islanders have about 9 choices, most of them along national lines, not actual ethnicity. I’m not sure everyone from China would want to be ethnically lumped in with the rest of the Chinese People. If you don’t fall into those 13 slightly more defined categories, you must be either ‘White’, ‘Black, African Am., or Negro’ or ‘American Indian or Alaska Native’ (you can name your tribe). If not, you’re ‘other’ and have to fill it in yourself.

Now, if you’re talking about using this census as a way to properly divide resources amongst communities that are in need, I’m not sure I am OK with being lumped in with ALL other “whites”. I’m not even entirely sure what White is.

Take me, for example. I was adopted at birth, so I have an actual biological racial identity, as well as one I grew up with.

As far as biologically, we know I am at least half Irish. The other half we’re not too sure about, if I had to guess, I’d say I’m either full Irish, or part Irish part German (with an emphasis on ‘Hun’ Germanic ancestry).  But that’s pretty much based off of my own assessment of my facial and bodily features.  We really have no clue what my other ‘half’ might be.

As far as the family I was basically born into, raised in, spent my whole life with and who had caring enough hearts to adopt a boy at birth… well, that’s a whole other hodgepodge.

My father was born and raised in South African, however he’s not African, dutch, or even British, he’s Lithuanian and Jewish at that. My mother has both Italian and Sicilian ancestry, and is Roman Catholic – which is much less of a ‘racial’-type identifier than being Jewish, but worth inclusion. So what exactly does that make me?

Personally, although I wasn’t raised along strict Judaic lines and religious schooling – didn’t even have a Bar Mitzvah… I pretty much consider myself a Jew. Mostly out of respect for my father, out of respect for some of the trials and tribulations he went through, some of the hate he experienced for being Jewish. I also went to a school with predominantly Jewish kids, went to a camp that was mostly Jewish, with a scant amount of exceptions I’m closer to the Jewish side of my family. While, in a religious sense, I’m more Agnostic/Spiritual, I feel I have enough right in this world to call myself a Jew. Others probably disagree, but that’s their problem.

If there’s anything else from that hodgepodge I identify with, it would be Irish, because that’s what I AM, at the very least partially. What does that make me, an Irish Jew?

That might seem pretty crazy to most, but there is actually a surprising large group of Irish Jews in the US. Not a ton, but enough to be considered an ethnic group.

Maybe I’ll fill out my Census this year as ‘Irish Jew’ and see what happens. Maybe I’ll have to wait out the mail-in period and get the person to come to my house and do the Census Interview and when they say ‘You’re White, correct’, I’ll answer, ‘No, I prefer you check other and enter ‘Irish Jew” and see what reaction I get =D

So, I guess in the most abstract sense I have to agree with those folks that want to write in Confederate White Southerner. They have every right to not want to be lumped in the general category of ‘white’. And I CERTAINLY don’t want to be lumped in with any of them.

Brazil, for all its other problems, is usually touted as one of the most racially inclusive countries, a REAL Melting Pot.  Brazil’s Census has something like 150 racial classifications, various types of ‘whites’, many types of mulatto’s, native Africans, native south Americans, other Hispanic, etc.  On top of that you can still write in your own classification.

I don’t think that some of the more hard-headed “Whites” in this country of ours are going to really ‘get-it’ that America isn’t just for them until you show them exactly how diverse ‘White’ can be, and that there probably is no such thing as a ‘pure’ white person.  Granted, I’m sure they’ll find some new way to justify their racism and reclassify themselves into some race that is ‘divine’, or whatever it is those folks believe.  But change always breeds more change, so perhaps adding a little gray to ‘White’ would be good thing.

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Mar 26

Looks like you can’t trust that ‘Energy Star’ Label

The [wikipedia]Government Accountability Office[/wikipedia], a arm of the US Congress that audits and evaluates government offices, recently “punk’d” the Environmental Protection AgencyApparently the EPA bureaucrats approved a whole assortment of bogus products.  75% of the 20 products submitted that ranged from a gasoline powered alarm clock to a product that claimed to be an indoor air purifier but was no more than a common household feather-duster taped to a space heater.  Additionally they allowed a number of fake firms to become Energy Star Partners.
Energy Star is a voluntary rating system who’s standards are already pretty low compared to the rest of the world.  However, in our societies new-found environmentally conscious mind-set, the Energy Star label still gives companies a significant marketing tool for their products.
It’s really sad to see such insane levels of apathy in our already bloated government offices.

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Mar 26

Best ‘Dumb Tech Support Call’ ever!

This is probably my favorite “dumb tech support call’s” I’ve ever seen. A woman calls up Leo Laporte from techguylabs.com. She’s complaining that her wifi signal from ‘linksys’ disappeared and doesn’t seem to understand that no one is going to give her ‘support’ when it disappears – because she was STEALING it. And she doesn’t want to accept the fact that she can’t complain that some neighbor blocked her out.  Paraphrasing a bit but, “It was there for a year, and it just got turned off?!”  Great stuff!

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Mar 26

Sandra Bullock’s scandelous husband Jesse James can’t possibly give me any more douche chills, can he?

As most people know by now [wikipedia]Sandra Bullock’s[/wikipedia] husband, bike-builder Jesse James, has pretty much pulled a ‘Tiger’ on her (Thanks, Urbandictionary =D).  A slowly expanding stream of mistresses is out of the woodwork, we appear to be up to number 3 or 4 or something like that, who can count at this point.

I was feeling very sorry for and empathetic towards Sandra through all this.  Where as the whole Tiger thing is sort of laughable, seeing as he’s such a mega-dork – even in his sexually explicit texting – and Elin is such a standard, government issued clueless trophy wife… it’s just a joke.  But even I had been sucked in by this whole ‘America’s sweetheart’ image that Sandra had going on, and the fact that she was married to Jesse James said to me she was probably a pretty cool chick and not your typical cunty Hollywood type.

And for being a kind of back-country biker type guy, Jesse James has a pretty endearing personality as well, on the surface.  He did a pretty in-depth interview on the Howard Stern Show a couple of years ago and it seemed like he was really in love with Sandra, and that he was a pretty level headed guy, not a racist or crazy ‘Hells Angels’ type biker guy.

However, today a huge torrent of news started coming down the pipeline claiming that Jesse James has tons of Nazi memorabilia himself, like a surfboard with an image of Hitler on the bottom.  It seems he even showed his surfboard to white-power loving, tatted-up mistress #1 Michelle McGee, she’s quoted as saying “Jesse proudly showed her a ‘Hitler surfboard’ that he keeps in his office at West Coast Choppers. He also had sex with her, she says, on a coach he has that ‘was made from a coffin.’”

As if that isn’t enough, TMZ is now claiming that they have a photo of Jesse James in similar Nazi-flavored adornments to the ones Michelle McGee wears in her now infamous Nazi photos, where Jesse is also giving the ‘Hitler salute’.

And finally, the National Enquirer has set the gossip world ablaze by claiming they’re poised to release a huge expose about Jesse James being a racist and having a huge collection of Nazi memorabilia.

Now, it’s pretty clear Jesse James is a complete scumbag regardless of his alleged obsession with Nazis.  But, one has to think that if all this was going on, how could Sandra Bullock never have gotten wind of it?  Six years or so of marriage, not to mention they both have told story’s of a long courtship where they got to know each other very well…. Well, lets just say I hope that this is all bullshit, because Ms. Bullock will have a lot of explaining to do to those fans that see her as America’s darling.

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Mar 26

This could be the next ‘James Bond’ flick: Columbian Model becomes drug queenpin

CNN has a big story on a former Colombian beauty queen who is now on the run as international authorities have begun rounding up her co-conspirators in an alleged drug ring with cartel ties.  I tell you this kind of stuff is right out of James Bond, but I doubt this girl is going to be swept away by some secret agent who’ll use her to take down the big fish.  I tell you it writes itself!

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Mar 26

Is Social Media just a fad?

Or is it your Revolution?

“Social Media Revolution: Is social media a fad?

Or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? This video details out social media facts and figures that are hard to ignore. This video is produced by the author of Socialnomics. “

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Mar 25

Nature by Numbers Video

A friend of mine who’s a physics professor, or well, assistant professor at this point sent this video to me. It’s just a neat video that depicts how some of these basic mathematical formulas can be found in nature. I originally saw it on wimp.com and couldn’t figure out how to upload the flash video to my site after stripping it from that one. I was happy to find it on YouTube today. Very cool!

The film, from Eterea eStudios was created by Cristóbal Vila.  The first formula, which I have to admit is the only one I really recognized, is the [wikipedia]Fibonacci Sequence[/wikipedia].  This is where you start with 0 and 1, and every additional number in the sequence in the sum of the previous two.
According to Mr. Vila’s blog, the [wikipedia]nautilus shell[/wikipedia] he depicts doesn’t actually follow the Fibonacci sequence exactly (or at least, the Fibonacci Sequence’s ‘[wikipedia]Golden Spiral[/wikipedia]‘).  It happens to be one of those common misnomers that he himself got caught up in.  So you’ll have to take it as artistic license.

As the video continues it illustrates a number of other mathematical sequences that are present in nature, these all very accurate.  Even if you know nothing of math or don’t care for formula’s its still a very cool video to watch.

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Mar 25

Brilliant Professor discovers that People Like Sex

An article by Danielle Canada March at hiphopwired.com cites the head of public health for Britain’s NHS, Professor Peter Kelly, as he specifically blames Facebook for a rise in syphilis cases in Britain.

This guys an idiot.  The fact that newspaper personal ads, the telephone, then the internet, craiglist, and a variety of social networking sites all lead to increased sexual activity proves one thing and one thing only; that people like sex.

The fact that the increased availability of mediums with which a person can get laid has also lead to an increase in STDs should be a matter of basic statistics.  It’s preposterous for this guy to  specifically blame Facebook, it’s pretty irresponsible and disingenuous.

What exactly does he propose that Facebook, or the public, do with this information.  What exactly can social networking sites do to combat private adults hooking up?  Why would it even be their responsibility to the level at which they need to be publicly called out for it? Professor Kelly should use his position to help increase awareness of STDs and the risks of casual sex, instead of trying to get some publicity while only giving people pointers on where to get laid.  There’s absolutely no difference between Facebook and every single bar and club in the entire world.

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