Saturday, May 24, 2008

I Want To Believe '08 (Are politicians real?)

I've had this image in my mind for a while. I think almost everybody does, although it may be at various levels of focusedness and resolution. I got onto Google Image search and dug around a little to see if someone had already done this. Of course, they had, although it took some digging to find out. The version at was pretty good but a little too rough, so I decided to make a DIY version.

I was a little disgusted when my new version of MacOS, 10.5, broke iPhoto and made it much harder to browse through my photo collection. I also didn't like that my RSS headline screensaver now cycled through 3 headlines instead of 10 from Yahoo. When 10.5 repeatedly froze and locked up just by running a screensaver I ditched it and reverted to 10.4. I have the new Ubuntu running on a Fujitsu as an alternative since the Windows Vista OS still isn't multilingual and I don't want to use it in Japanese any more than I have to. MacOS has been multilingual for 6 or 8 years and Ubuntu has a few dozen languages built in, too.

Anyway, iPhoto runs, but no longer allows me to export to Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, a movie, or even as a file. All you can do is read the file name and Spotlight search for it.

Enough about Apple already. Oh, one more. I wish the fan didn't run in the computer 24 hours a day unless you manually select Sleep mode. They seem to have corrected the bug with their laptops but my downstairs iLamp still can be heard upstairs.

Anyway, I found a photo I had taken with an eerie likeness to what I was seeking, got the Obama logo, got a picture of Obama that I like, found some filters that chromiumized the logo, found the font was Arial Black as it appears (and Inner Shadow seems appropriate), and just had to throw in Dennis Kucinich. Don't stinge on the blur. That pretty much concretizes my image of the national mood (Zeitgeist Amerika) in this erection ear election year.

Below is an urban variation of the concept. Just an afterthought. In the background is a danchi, an industrial housing concept inspired by the Soviet combinats, perhaps. These images American-Made in Japan from Japanese and American parts.

Neither of these is intended for the use of right-wing headcases, BTW. All rights reserved, blah blah blah.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Jan Chipchase

To me, Jan Chipchase sounds a bit like an update of the "HAL chipset." My head was spinning for a while, wondering who he was and where he was coming from, when I landed on a random blog entry from a Google image search. Traveler? International jewel thief? (No.) It gradually became clearer. His blog Future Perfect is well worth reading for its one-of-a-kind observations and insights. You could also visit his work profile, the blog of his work colleague Younghee Jung (with the superior banner design;-), this interview, or this excellent article in the NYT.

The May 12, 2008 Sichuan Earthquake (14:28 )

I thought this was an extremely moving photograph. Somehow I can't get it out of my mind. This one or something like it may be one of the images we forever associate with 2008.

This Friday May 16, 2008, photo, distributed by the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, shows a dead student's hand holding a pen tightly in the debris site of Dongqi Middle School in Hanwang Town of quake-hit Mianzhu City, southwest China's Sichuan province. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Liu Zhongjun)

There is an extensive collection of photos of the aftermath of the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake at Given the large number of students killed in what must have been somewhat shoddily-built school buildings, this doesn't seem to be an unusual sight, as I also found some different yet remarkably similar pictures at

Not to be too skeptical or anything, but… what are the chances of all three out of three pictures being lefties? I just happened to notice. I'm not saying anyone is being deceptive, though. Hypotheses: Two to three PM could be left-hand development hour; this may have been the National Center for the Study of Lefthandedness; or rescuers may have a tradition of placing a pen in the left hand so the dead may continue to write in the spirit world. Or it may well just be a coincidence.

The Wikipedia also has a shot of toads swarming down the streets of Mianzhou, thought by many to be an eerie precursor to the quake.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I have a bunch of these View-Master reels at home. They date from around 1948, through the 1950s when my mother collected them, to some from the 1960s and 1970s that my siblings and I bought and received, and a few more that I bought a few years ago. They fall into such categories as funnies/comics/nursery rhymes/folk tales and the like, cowboys and indians (a 50s thing, I guess), and world tour (places around the world). I think the idea was to provide a fake memory of world travel so you could save money by not going, but the designers hadn't developed scratch-n-sniff in time for this, so without the olfactory input, the illusion is incomplete. Had they been able to provide not only a 3D view of, say, an Istanbul market, but also include a scratch-n-sniff portion of the disc that would present the appropriate scent to your nose in the binocular viewer's nose-place and mechanically scratch it for you as you advanced the reel, they might have beaten that newfangled TV thing.

It's hard to believe that if a 10-year-old started buying these in 1948, they'd be 70 now, nearly as old as John McCain. I just mention that to emphasize what an ancient technology this is. But although it is ancient, it is still around and hasn't changed much. And although I keep a sharp eye peeled (ouch) for the imminent arrival of low-cost stereoscopic (or stereo, binocular, whatever you want to call it) 3D digital cameras for consumer use, they continue to fail to appear on the market. Most of the 3D cameras on the market are semi-antiques from the 1950s.

The existence of these reels provides a good excuse to mess with the film-scanning feature on my Epson GT-9700F scanner. Hmmm. "Flatbed" would be a good prompt. If the subject responds with "truck" or "mattress" you know they are not a computer(-literate) person. Here is the front of the reel folder, printed in an ancient font.

They came outta Portland. I need a camel's-hair brush. (Punctuationists will note the contrast with Camel's Hair-brush.) Pictures taken with your own personal stereo camera make wonderful additions to your View-Master reel library. Rub it in, why dontcha? I wish I could. I can't see the word "Kodachrome" without hearing the Simon and Garfunkel song of the same name, btw.

I don't remember this reel of Japan making much of an impression at the time. It's interesting that the postcard-like views haven't changed much. "Boats in Tokyo canal, Cana" seems to be a mis-print.

I lightened the disc above enough to read the front faintly.
This scan below has been lightened just in the center portion.

I do remember being impressed by the Navaho, for some reason.

Even more impressive was the story of Little Black Sambo. I remember being transfixed by the discovery that fast-running tigers looped around a tree could be transformed into a nutritious, spreadable fat compound called "Tiger Butter". How I longed to eat the famous "Tiger Butter Pancakes." I think they probably did serve me some, since my grandfather was always in the mood for a good mind-f prank.

Is Little Black Sambo racist? It may be, but I am providing it here for its value as a cultural artifact. I don't really see anything racist in the story except for the name itself, which seems to unnecessarily call undue attention to Sambo's blackness. His skin tone should be evident enough already. I don't recall reading "The White Boy Who Cried 'Wolf'" or that "Little Red Riding Hood" was actually "Little Native American Girl in a Hoodie". So I guess it's racist on that level. It's also possible that they just called people by their color in a straightforward way as in Brazil, or the modern American use of "Black" i.e. without necessarily being racist. (Black Uhuru…?) Anyway. I am much more concerned about "Popeye" on the Cartoon Network. The Popeye program shows children that black people always have a bone through their noses, and collectively attempt to cook Popeye or his romantic interest "Olive Oyl" in a large black pot. I don't think this is what we should be showing pre-schoolers in 2008, and I have to change the channel and would never want my kids or any other kids see it. They also have insulting stereotypes of Native Americans on Popeye. I don't remember seeing insulting Asian stereotypes but it's probably an oversight on my part.

Of course, all of the View-Master literary adaptations suffered somewhat from being reduced to seven stereo photos with about 5 to 8 words of description under each one. Think of it as a haiku (actually closer to tanka) or short-short-story version, a cultural expression of mid-20th-century America. Or an early attempt at a DVD, with text instead of audio. It did have the advantage of being three-dimensional!

Click on any of these for a larger version. It has been formatted to fit your screen.

Speaking of smell, they smell alot like old super-8 film. Hopefully that is not explosive.
Later discs ("reels") are no longer from Sawyer's, Inc. out of Portland 7, Oregon, but belong to Fisher-Price out of New York. VIEW-MASTER is a trademark of Mattel, it seems.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hill-Rod speaks (but…)

I heard an inspiring speech by the Reverend, er, Senator Obama this morning (Japan time). I had already resolved to turn off the TV if Clinton were to appear, but being a liberal, I gave her a second chance. She appeared, flashing her clown face, with the scary mean gray version of the Bill-Rod prancing about the stage as well.

"Not too long ago, my opponent-" [click]

Positive and Negative Influences in the World

This news is over a month old, but still notable. A survey of world public opinion in 23 countries found Germany and Japan to be the countries which are seen as having the most positive effect on world affairs. The United States was roughly even with North Korea, having a few more friends but also a few more enemies. The United States also falls behind Brazil, Russia, China, and India as a benevolently-viewed power, but ahead of Pakistan, Israel, and Iran.

The full report or summary report can be viewed at World Public Opinion, BBC, or GlobeScan.

The question was:

Please tell me if you think each of the following countries are having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence in the world.
Some other highlights:
When asked for their views of their own country’s influence in the world, Japanese citizens are the most modest of those polled, with only 36 per cent saying Japan is having a mainly positive influence. Americans come next with only 56 per cent saying the US is having a positive influence. Conversely, fully 91 per cent of Chinese citizens and 78 per cent of Russian citizens say their country is having a positive influence.

In total 17,457 citizens in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, and the United States were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between October 31, 2007 and January 25, 2008. Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country.

Howard Zinn podcast, talks and speeches

Last week before Golden Week started I was in the train listening to a Howard Zinn podcast from Progressive Podcast, called "You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train". It was over an hour long, and I never got to the end, but I was struck by the relatively charming and humanistic speaking style of Zinn as contrasted with the more Noam Chomsky, for example. I am looking forward to hearing the rest of it on some boring commute soon. I think I mentioned in a post or the sidebar before about the online availability of A People's History of the United States, which I am glad for since I gave my copy of that big heavy book to a friend before I moved to Japan. I thought there might be some video of Howard Zinn on YouTube, too, and there is a lot more than I thought.

Results 1 - 10 of about 3,410 from for Howard Zinn. (0.27 seconds)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The TRS-80 (and…me?) in March 1978

It took me a while to recognize the context of this photograph. Well, I'm still not sure. The person who sent it to me attached a date (1978 March), which allows me to reconstruct a playlist of the popular music of the day as I attempt to recover the memory. That doesn't really help much.

I guess it shows some high school students with a local programmer friend who later moved to Vegas. He is evangelically helping us write a BASIC program for the TRS-80. It seems to be a formula for the calculation of the volume of a cylinder or cone. I don't remember this, but it looks like one of the few meetings of the Science Club which I started. Incidentally, in our first Science Club meeting, investigating ESP, we set up a code which allowed me to appear to claim powerful psychic powers (hint: "What is it now?"=diamond, "What do you think?" = plus, "Now what is it?" = circle, etc.). That mindf_ck had blown them away until we de-briefed them.

The TRS-80 was $400 or so. Accessories could cost much more. We were lucky that the science teacher had the school bought one, probably shortly after this. There were about 2 of us who knew how to use it. I remember writing a little algorithm to calculate the Golden Mean. Another program I wrote searched for and printed prime numbers, indefinitely. Just type RUN and let it go. A video game I wrote had a castle tower with a cannon that fired at an approaching tank. Shots from both followed proper parabolic trajectories (it seemed important) in the 128x48 block screen. Weirdly, the spaces for each letter were also like a "pixel" we could turn on and off. All software we wrote was saved to cassette tape! The BASIC programming software was written by a little company called Micro-Soft, I think. Somewhere out in California two guys named Steve were starting another computer company called "Apple". Apple was considered more expensive but even the TRS-80 could set you back $8000 in some configurations.

Universities were still using punched cards and mainframes. I took a few classes like that. Remember dropping out of a COBOL or FORTRAN class in 1982 when I was broke. I had already switched from astrophysics to computers to sociology before trying some anthropology and deciding on Linguistics and Psychology. I stayed enrolled in Japanese even though I had to drop the other classes I couldn't afford with a part-time job. I remember saying that I would get back into computers when you could get the Library of Congress in a computer the size of a book. I didn't use computers much from the 1980s (except for data entry at work) until 1994.

I don't feel too nostalgic. Actually it makes me feel a little sick. I like the present. I don't often look back so it is strange and interesting to do so. The Java applet TRS-80 emulator link below is awfully interesting, though. I wonder if that would run on a cell phone?

TRS-80 links:

Here are Jeff Vavasour's TRS-80 emulators including ones that let you run TRS-80 BASIC programs in a Java applet in your browser. There's a software library including Lunar Lander (completely text based). This is weird, but it is nice to see 1970s-style BASIC level 1 programming kept alive.

Before writing anything, some of us will need to review the commands.

Distrust for American injustice system

On Sundays The Daily Yomiuri has a news centerfold from The Chicago Tribune (in the cellulosic carbon-based physical version of their newspaper). Their columnists are all depressingly reactionary and have repeatedly proven to be not worth reading, with the notable exception of Leonard Pitts, who should not be missed. This week's column was on the spot, as usual. Apparently he is syndicated by Knight-Ridder from the Miami Herald -- where this article appeared as Where is Justice? I found the column I read in the paper today available online at (Detroit Free Press). The piece was given different titles at different newspapers.

How can one trust justice system?


I want you to tell me how I can trust the justice system.
Mr. Attorney General, the question is for you. And you, too, Ms. Police Officer, Madame District Attorney, and Mr. Judge. It is also for you, Mr. and Ms. Average Citizen.

Somebody tell me: How can I trust the justice system?
You will think this is about Sean Bell, the unarmed black man who died in a fusillade of 50 bullets from New York police on what was to have been his wedding day; the shooters were acquitted last week. But the question isn't about Bell, at least not solely.
Rather, it's about the fact that the justice system so often seems to have less justice in it where black people are concerned. It's about Amadou Diallo, shot at 41 times -- hit 19 -- by New York police while reaching for his wallet. It's about Rodney King, beaten to pieces by L.A. police for a traffic violation. It's about Arthur McDuffie, beaten to death by Miami police for a traffic violation.
It's about Jeffrey Gilbert, bones fractured by police who broke into the Greenbelt, Md., apartment of his girlfriend and pounced on him as he lay nude in bed because they mistakenly thought him a cop killer. It's about L.A. police manufacturing and planting evidence.
It's about my son, stopped by police for driving with an "obstructed" windshield -- he had an air freshener in the shape of a Christmas tree dangling from his rear-view mirror. It's about studies documenting the enduring racial bias in our justice system so that, for example, blacks account for 13% of all regular drug users, but 35% of those arrested, 55% of those convicted, and 74% of those imprisoned, for drug possession.
And it's about knowing the foregoing will be greeted with blithe indifference by those who find it convenient to believe the unjust treatment of blacks is somehow excusable, understandable, merited or required.
I need no lectures to remind me that good people inhabit the system; my cousin is a federal prosecutor. Nor do I need any lectures on the heroism of cops; I've ridden with police, been protected by them, and yield to no one in my admiration for those who do that job with honor.
So save the lectures, just give me an answer: How can I trust a system whose biases against people who look like me are simultaneously well-documented, yet happily ignored by those who resemble me not at all?
The question matters because without trust, the system doesn't work.

People don't participate in systems they don't trust. They don't come forward, they don't testify. So criminals go uncaptured and crimes go unpunished. Yet some black people apparently find that preferable to participating in a system they believe is rigged against them. I don't agree with them, but before you condemn them, ask yourself: Would you play in a game refereed by someone who hated you? What's the point?
In games as in life, you may not like an outcome, but if you believe it was fairly derived, you can at least live with it. Small wonder black people often find it difficult to live with this system. Last week's acquittal will do nothing to change that.
So I'm serious. Somebody tell me how I can trust American justice. Somebody tell me why I should even try.

LEONARD PITTS JR. is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132. Write to him at

Monday, May 05, 2008

War is Over -- if you want it

A West Coast union shut down the ports for one shift of work. They didn't seem to mind risking their livelihoods, but their employers squealed like hungry pigs.

U.S. dock workers skip work to protest Iraq war
By William Yardley
Published: May 2, 2008
West Coast ports in the United States shut down for a day as thousands of longshoremen failed to report for work, part of what their union leaders said was a one-shift protest against the war in Iraq.
Cranes and forklifts stood still from Seattle to San Diego on Thursday, and ships were stalled at sea as workers held rallies up and down the coast to blame the war for distracting public attention and money from domestic needs like health care and education.
"We're loyal to America, and we won't stand by while our country, our troops and our economy are being destroyed by a war that's bankrupting us to the tune of $3 trillion," the president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Bob McEllrath, said in a written statement. "It's time to stand up, and we're doing our part today."
About 25,000 union members are employed at 29 West Coast ports, but the protest took place only during the day shift. A spokesman for the main West Coast employers' group, the Pacific Maritime Association, said it appeared that about 6,000 workers did not show up for work, which meant that about 10,000 containers would not be loaded or unloaded from about 30 cargo ships.

Union leaders said that the association had rejected their request weeks ago for the one-shift work stoppage on Thursday, but that local longshoremen continued to promote the protest. It went forward, the union leaders said, despite a demand on Wednesday by an independent arbitrator that they instruct members to go to work.
In many cases, dock workers were joined at port entrances or at rallies by other groups protesting the war or frustrated by economic issues or immigration policies. Some rallies seemed almost like street fairs, with booksellers setting up stands and supporters of the presidential candidate Ralph Nader carrying banners.
On the Seattle waterfront, members of the United Auto Workers and the Service Employees International Union mixed with self-described socialists while many of the scores of police officers on the scene ate box lunches and petted their horses.

Rebecca Cathcart contributed reporting from Long Beach, California, and Carolyn Marshall from Oakland, California.
It is a good first step but not sufficient. Americans can stop the war immediately by demanding it. It actually could be done by a small percentage of the people who were willing to go to the wall or to the barricades. In a city of a million, 1% of the population (say, Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel supporters, for example) would be a small army of 10,000 people, more than enough to block access to the headquarters of Halliburton, Kellogg Brown and Root, City Hall, the airport, the ports, the roads, rail, etc. Shut down every port, every airport, half the Fortune 500, major road and rail lines, many city governments, and I guarantee you something will happen. It would not be business as usual, pacify the people, war on. Peaceful, non-violent organizing, preferably including law enforcement and the armed forces is what I am talking about. If workers take democratic control of their workplaces, that would be even better. Such a movement requires a leader, a Martin Luther King -like figure, to coordinate and direct it. I think Kucinich, Gravel, Ron Paul, or Ralph Nader could have been (or could be?) that person. I see zer0 chance that Clinton or Obama would do what it takes. A reasonable demand would be to see a few 747s a week coming home, starting with the Reserve and National Guard, and no new forces going out. Even at a pace like that, 1000 soldiers a week, it would take 3 years to withdraw 150,000 soldiers. A more radical demand for five hundred soldiers a day returning would be on course for a one-year withdrawal.

With no leadership, no draft, a volunteer force, a low-intensity conflict, and for other reasons including the impending elections, the will is just not there. The war goes on and on. It disgusts me and most of the world. I just hope that the people's gamble on waiting for the elections to Help America Vomit will prove to be the right choice and not just lost time, money and lives.

Update: I think I may have stated that too negatively. There is, of course, majority support among the American public for withdrawing US troops from Iraq. Among some sub-populations, such as union members, that support may be over 75, 85, 95%, and deep enough that they are willing to go on strike for that principle. If they have the resolve to go on strike for one shift now they may be abe to strike for a month or more at some future time. If joined by, say, the national teachers unions, so that come September, virtually no schools or universities were able to conduct classes, and other unions, so that no major city had garbage collection and so on, government action to meet the public demands and pacify the unrest would be forthcoming. I think they would have to start the withdrawal.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Intelligent life on earth: evolving, devolving, or revolving?

I recently watched a re-broadcast of the 1972 film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. This may have sensitized me to the news story (which came to my attention via Posthuman Blues) of orang-utans using spears to attempt to catch fish as well as learning to swim. This, in turn, is reminiscent of recent reports of chimpanzees in Senegal using spears to catch and kill bush babies, their own primate brethren and preferred lunch, which they eat in a sashimi-like raw form, un-barbecued, having not yet played SimEarth or Civilization to the point where they realize the importance of acquiring the Fire technology.

But it is not just spear technology that our primate brothers are excelling in these days. Another recent report found that rhesus monkeys had the ability to estimate arithmetic sums visually only a little worse than university students. Before you hire a rhesus monkey to do your taxes, consider the fact that human intelligence (at least as measured by IQ tests) has been rising for decades, in a mystery known as the Flynn Effect. The accelerating pace of human evolution, 100 times above baseline levels, is probably not sufficient to account for changes in IQ observed over time frames as short as 10 years or less (unless a whole lot of people at the very bottom of the IQ scale are winning the Darwin Award, and the death rates are not high enough for that).

It strikes me that the documented rise in human IQs and the anecdotal rise in animal IQs are related. Some of the proposed explanations for the rise in human IQs are the increasing complexity of the environment, which surely applies to the novel use of tools by chimps and orang-utans. It may also be a case of them acquiring tool use by observing human use of similar tools. Alternatively, the explanation could be some kind of environmental toxin or virus which causes runaway growth of brain cells. It's better than the inverse!

(I've sometimes wondered what the affects would be of an epidemic outbreak of Information Thirst Virus, which would cause painful sensations if a person were not continually consuming information and learning. As far as I know this premise has not appeared much in science fiction as has, say, the perhaps overexploited premise of Flowers for Algernon.)

Interestingly, rising primate IQs (as measured by scientists at APE CONTROL) was part of the story in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, too. One report has Ape IQs rising by 3% a month, which alarms some officials, who have pre-knowledge of the coming fate of man (from Zira and Cornelius), but which is brushed off by another as "Productivity has also improved by 3%!"

(Pssst! Notice the orange jumpsuits apes were forced to wear, a motif appropriated by the Bush administration for their large-scale violation of human rights.)

I myself have seen many examples of animal intelligence. Just this last week, I watched a cat quickly scurry across the four lanes of traffic in Bunkyo-ku's Hongo-doori after carefully waiting for the rush of passing traffic to quiet down to nothing and pause in the pulse of changing lights. It wouldn't take many years or generations of (dead) cats to evolve that ability. I remember being similarly impressed at stray dogs in Taipei obediently sitting and waiting for the traffic lights to change before trotting across the street, mingling with pedestrians and scavenging around for food. Crows here in Japan seem to know which days are garbage days and wait for it to be put out, then using their visual abilities to identify tasty-looking bits of trash (through the transparent bags we need to use here for easier waste sorting) and then tearing strategic holes to pull out what they want. But my most indelible memory is of a zoo in Sumatra (or possibly Java). I came across a not-very-big old-style concrete cage about the size of a living room with iron bars around the outside and bars (the iron kind) inside for the orang-utans to swing on. Adult orang-utans are very large, shaggy, and intimidating, especially when they swing forcefully. I think they may be basically gentle, however. They have very amazing long fingers and very human eyes --more human than human, perhaps. A man was reaching out across a little fence which kept us back, and offering an orangutan a lit kretek cigarette. The orang-utan accepted the lit cigarette gracefully, and several of the orang-utans were offered and accepted kreteks. I was also a smoker at that time and offered a kretek and a Marlboro, as I recall, and the Marlboro was briefly drawn on and then thrown to the ground in an interspecies gesture of disgust. Kreteks have more tar and nicotine and are also sweeter, of course. It seemed appropriate to me that, if the orang-utans (Man (orang) of the Forest (utan)) were to be kept as prisoners, they at least deserved the simple pleasure of a cigarette accorded to most POWs. Anyway, the appreciation of smoking was somewhat amazing in itself, as you generally do not get that in your cat, dog, or typical barnyard, zoo, or wild animal. However, what really impressed me was the way the orang-utans carefully pressed the kreteks against the cold steel bars of their cage, and gently rolled them to cool all sides of the smoldering tip to prevent it from burning too quickly and being wasted between drags! It reminded me of similar techniques practiced by connoisseurs of other valuable smoked herbs. Ever since, orang-utans have been my favorite animal, and one I respect and consider very nearly human.

Before coming to the conclusion that the rising tide of human saturation of the earth's environments is lifting all boats of human and animal IQs universally, consider the dialectically opposite proposition. Aren't humans reducing biodiversity, clearing and simplifying habitat, and driving species like the Baiji dolphin and other intelligent species to extinction, thereby dumbing down the entire planet? (not to mention the effects of television) Or do these two effects (smart-up and dumb-down/extinction) cancel out and just add up to some kind of rotation of dominant species, e.g. reptile, cetacean. mammal, insect, etc.?

I don't know, Dave. There is not enough information.

Well, wouldja, Dick?

This little bit of found internet detritus to the right somehow appeals to my juvenile sense of humor. It is the t-shirt that must be worn by every member of the audience if cardiological cyborg and bionic VP Mistercheney ever emerges from the secure-undisclosed and attempts to give a public speech rather than retiring with Halliburton to Dubai as expected. I wish I had had this t-shirt in high school. But I didn't. Still, it reminds me of my homies and I (and "homies" wasn't really a word back then) in high school, who fashioned ourselves as I.O.N.S. (International Organization of Nuclear Scientists) and, donning lab coats and t-shirts emblazoned with our code-names "F" "U" "C" and "K", (and o+f+f in smaller letters), and while sitting together in formation in the lunchroom next to the teachers' table, were severely castigated berated scolded by the school principal and forbidden from appearing with each other on school grounds in direct violation of our fundamental rights of free association as guaranteed under the U. S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yup, those were the days. A brief loving look back and WTFWWT moment as captured in the original unretouched photograph:

Friday, May 02, 2008

Embedded QR codes

Just to amuse myself, I was going to look for the building in Tokyo that most closely resembles a QR code (similar to my "Look Down!" campaign focusing urbanite awareness on subterranean infrastructure human access portals (STISHAPs, formerly "man-holes")). Then I realized that there are so many other forms in the urban hiker's environment. I started noticing QR codes and trying to imagine softer implementations -- like the failed subliminal monkey I did earlier.

One that I came up with was the i-go game board version. It looks a little sloppy, but at least it scans flawlessly and could be worse. I didn't find many short-cuts in making it, though, so I don't think I will mess with it again. Physically following the QR as a plan and photographing it would be easier than digitally making it, if only they made i-go boards that big. This isn't a url; it is just a 13-letter string.

Other graphical ideas I was chewing over were QR code in a worm-eaten leaf, QR code in a torn shoji paper screen (though it presents a few problems), QR code in a torn red (Chinese-style) lantern, and QR code in fallen cherry blossoms. Feel free to steal one of these ideas if you are a graphic artist trying to survive in advertising. I am sure these ideas are out there in the One Mind even if I haven't seen anything like that yet. I look forward to somebody coming out with a QR code generator that automagically embeds the QR code in the image or pattern of your choice.

I'm still getting used to the sensitivity of this technology and what counts and where and why readability drops off.

Since it uses data compression, humans will probably never develop the ability to read QR codes without machine assistance, unlike Braille. The advantage will go to the machines -- but I have a hunch QR codes will find various applications in human-to-human communication and be ubiquitous, although there may be a better technology around the corner. If it breaks through into popular culture we will see it more in stencils, quilts, cakes, tattoos, and clothing designs.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Another smirking loser for America = McCain!

McCain ranked 894th out of 899 in his graduating class at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. I have long thought that what the country really needs right now is a dumb old stubborn white guy with a bad temper who has never had a real job other than killing foreigners and dumping one wife for the rich heiress wife. Oh, yeah, and the Senate and that stuff. Washington insider. How did that Keating Five thing work out for ya? Suck up to any nutjob preachers lately? (start creepy voice-over) I am so fired up and ready to go… on day one… with whatever functional mental abilities that remain. And there are some. Bomb! Bomb! Bomb! Iran!

McCain: older… stubborner… dumber… americaner… warrier… angrier… meaner… hotter-headed…

If you liked Bush, you'll love McMore of the McSame!

McCain: Making the McWorld Safe for McNamericain McDemocracy.

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