Scott Forstall, the SVP in charge of iOS, was a big fan of skeuomorphism. That's the tacky design practice whereby you place visual elements from old media into new media, i.e., needlessly adding graphics of a spiral binding at the edge of the screen to make an app look like a physical notebook. As per his position at Apple, Forstall had the juice to have skeuomorphism integrated into the software of the products.
Jonathan Ive is reportedly not a fan of skeuomorphism, but as his domain was previously limited primarily to the physical design of Apple's products, there was little he could do about it.
"Nicolas Jaar floored just about everyone (prior fan or not) with his first ever Essential Mix earlier this year, so it’s no surprise that Pete Tong and co have crowned his 120-minute masterpiece 2012’s Essential Mix of the Year."
“To protect the precious bulk of Winston Churchill in wartime a special one-man pressure chamber was built for the personal plane which carried him many times across the Atlantic and to Casablanca, Moscow and Yalta. Churchill was warned by his doctors that it was dangerous for a man of his age and physical condition to fly above 8,000 feet. The solution was a pressure chamber complete with ash trays, telephone and an air-circulation system good enough to prevent smoke from the ubiquitous cigar from fogging the atmosphere.”
- LIFE Magazine, 1947
"By the gloomy light of our caving headlamps, it looks like a geological rubbish dump: a brown, muddy chaos of shadowy crevices and boulders – some the size of buses – that fell from the roof. Welcome to The Frozen Deep, the biggest cave chamber in Britain, which has recently been discovered below Cheddar Gorge in Somerset."
Nicholas Packwood - On Candystripe Legs (Lullaby revisited)
I don't usually inflict my musical stylings on Flea readers but I figure I will indulge myself as it is the end of the year. It's a Cure cover, obviously. The video is edited together from Yevgeni Sherstobitov's Andromeda Nebula (1967).
Half in the Bag - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Red Letter Media guys consider Peter Jackson's latest foray into Middle Earth. The first half of their review focusses on The Hobbit as a "prequel" to The Lord of the Rings; the two of them have never read the books and it shows. They are right to point out Jackson's main problem: How to make a film which is both faithful to what is, after all, a children's book and makes sense in light of the later - epic - material he has already filmed? Where Half in the Bag thinks Jackson falls short, I believe Tolkien fans will find the film is more faithful to the story than the novel could be. Tolkien had to retcon - and gloss over - the details as Middle Earth grew in the telling; both Jackson and his audience have the benefit of hindsight.
The second half of the review concerns the technological innovations used in filming the latest instalment. Having seen The Hobbit once in traditional 2D, I now need to see it again in 3D at 48 fps. In video game production, we produce at 60 fps where processing power allows so it is not as though I am stuck on 24 fps. Having said that, the only appreciable difference I have noticed so far is jitter where in the past there would have been blur. We are used to latter, the former needs a technical fix rather than getting used to.
As a young man, Paul Krugman was inspired by Isaac Asimov's Foundation, later taking up economics as a means of saving humanity (from itself).
But there is an irony in Krugman's claim to have been inspired by Hari Seldon to take up social science: In his column in the NYT, he often comes off not so much like Seldon but like one of the Galactic Empire's elites, mistrustful of the Hari Seldons out there predicting the collapse of the "empire"-or, that is, the blue model.
"Many people would agree that it's more likely than not that we'll eventually do ourselves in. And in fact, some astrobiologists theorize that all advanced civilizations hit the same insurmountable developmental wall we have. They call it the Great Filter. It's a notion that's often invoked to explain why we've never been visited by extraterrestrials.
"But there is another possible reason for the celestial silence. Yes, the Great Filter exists, but we've already passed it."
My great aunt Margaret Fuller, who used to talk a great deal about the Greek gods a century ago, began to see them in terms of the principles they represented. And I found it interesting, when I studied electrical engineering, that when I considered such electromagnetic behaviors as conductance, impedance and resistance, I saw the Greek gods in those behaviors.
Flashmob Flash Mob Ode to Joy - Beethoven, Symphony No.9
Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.
Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.
Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.
"Packwood" derives from the Saxon "Pacca's Wood", i.e. what the Cymri called "Pwca's Wood". Shakespeare called him Puck.
In English folklore, Puck is a mythological fairy or mischievous nature sprite. Puck is also a generalised personification of land spirits. In more recent times, the figure of Robin Goodfellow is identified as a puck.
The Old English "puca" is a kind of half-tamed woodland sprite, leading folk astray with echoes and lights in nighttime woodlands (like the German and Dutch "Weisse Frauen" and "Witte Wieven" and the French "Dames Blanches," all "White Ladies"), or coming into the farmstead and souring milk in the churn.
In Finland, he is called Pukki; as Joulupukki, he is the Yule Goat (and enjoys goat for dinner).
Joulupukki is a Finnish Christmas figure. The name Joulupukki literally means Christmas goat or Yule Goat. The Finnish word "pukki" comes from the Teutonic root "bock" (equivalent of the English "buck", "Puck", or "billy-goat") and is an old Scandinavian tradition.
There is a clear family resemblance to Krampus, a fae relation from the Alps responsible for dealing with the naughty part of the naughty or nice equation.
Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish bad children during the Yule season, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards nice ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair.
Judging by these festive illustrations, we have Pukki in Canada too; perhaps drawn to the Taiga and comfortable making their home in boreal forest. But here we call them Wendigo. August Derleth called the same creature Ithaqua.
The conventional wisdom is that the gifts of the magi were symbolic of Jesus’ future roles as religious leader and king. But over the years, medical journals have carried a variety of articles proposing that the Magi were delivering not symbols but medicine to baby Jesus.
Accounting: "The Gospel of Matthew, the only one of the four Canonical gospels to mention the Magi, states that they came "from the east" to worship the Christ, "born King of the Jews." Although the account does not tell how many they were, the three gifts led to a widespread assumption that they were three as well. In the East, the magi traditionally number twelve."
"The oldest carbon-14-dated seed that has grown into a viable plant was a Judean date palm seed about 2,000 years old, recovered from excavations at Herod the Great's palace on Masada in Israel. It was germinated in 2005."
"SmallFilms' bleak and brilliant Norse tales focused on Noggin, King of the Nogs, of the Northlands and his endeavours to keep his wicked Uncle, Nogbad the Bad, from getting his hands on the throne of the Nogs. Instead of 'stories' we had 'sagas' to watch, in keeping with the Viking/Icelandic concept."
"Mustang (moo-stahn), one of the last outposts of Tibetan culture, is so isolated and protected that no Westerner set foot inside its borders for centuries. But in the early 1990s, this untouched society set high in the Himalayas opened its borders for the first time, exposing an ancient world's dazzling sacred relics long damaged by the elements and neglect."
"The secret Armenians do not mingle with the other, 'open Armenians, of the active but dwindling community in Istanbul. Most don’t talk to strangers. Breaking taboos in Turkey can be deadly. After all, they remember what happened to Hrant Dink. Dink, an Armenian-Turkish journalist, was shot dead in Istanbul in 2007 by a young man, enraged by his unforgiving pen on controversial issues ranging from the Armenian Genocide to modern Turkey’s founding father, Kemal Atatürk."
Very rare opportunity shot. 2+ minute video is of the descent of Kukulkan/Quetzalcoatl on the steps of the pyramid of El Castillo in Chichen Itza. What makes it rare is that all seven diamonds appear and no clouds interrupt the transition.
The Mayans succeeded in an almost impossible mission with the completion of their structures at Chichen Itza. A poetic combination of form, style, function, religion, philosophy, mathematics and geometry. A true symbiosis of all of their intelligence and art in one location, to be studied and admired by all that visit. By far the most impressive aspect of the Pyramid of Kukulcan is it's relationship with the sun and how it reflects the equinoxes and solstices of our solar year with stunning accuracy.
Each object you create starts as a basic hexagonal mesh which you can change as much, or as little, as you want with a variety of tools. Choose a sharp, geometric look or a rounded, more organic style. Use attractive and repulsive forces to disrupt the pattern's initial symmetry, or give it a twist with spiraling forces. Click inside any cell to subdivide it into three smaller cells -- those smaller cells can even be further subdivided to add more intricate detail to your design.
Your digital designs can be turned into real-world jewelry, housewares, or decorations made from steel, bamboo, or felt.
Jacques Derrida elaborates on his use of the term "American"
I am not a fan of Derrida, even less so of Derridians, but like this observation. And I am pleased to learn Derrida would have thought I am being American when I bark "elaborate" at my students by way of suggestion.
"I am Ken Levine, Creative Director of BioShock and BioShock Infinite. AMA."
Salacious One of the best parts of Bioshock was finding the relics of what the city had once been and exploring the path that it had gone down toward its ultimate collapse. Will Bioshock Infinite have the same type of hidden backstory for Columbia?
IGken Yes, but the backstory won't be about a collapse, because when you get there, the city is very much alive and kicking. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say the past matters in a very serious way in this game. Shawn Elliott said that where the last game was about Archeology, this game is also about Anthropology, in other words, you get stories from both the living and the dead in Infinite.
BioShock is not only inspired by the theory of Objectivism that Ayn Rand developed and championed in her written works--and famously fictionalized in her novel Atlas Shrugged--but the game's narrative also functions chiefly as a frightening critique of a society shaped in the image of her political and economic beliefs. Andrew Ryan’s underwater city of Rapture (the name itself used as a double-entendre for both the height of pleasure and the biblical apocalypse) offers the player a visceral demonstration of the pitfalls of what Rand called “rational self-interest” merged with a dystopian alternate history science fiction epic.
"Sexbots, a deadpan antihero, a creepy futuristic black market for implants and a psycho-cyborg cliffhanger all get crammed into True Skin, a dazzling sci-fi short that reportedly has Hollywood going nuts."
"HBO is set to announce that it will team up with Brewery Ommegang, a Belgian-style brewery in Cooperstown N.Y., to create beers based on themes and characters in the fantasy series adapted from the novels by George R. R. Martin."
"Josephine Foster is a powerful singer songwriter with an unearthly voice capable of transcending the listener into other realms. American in origin she has spent the last few years in southern Spain soaking up flamenco music and almost forgotten Spanish folk songs. Planning to reunite herself with her American roots this video captures her at the tail end of her Spanish excursion."
"The Aokigahara Forest is the most popular site for suicides in Japan. After the novel Kuroi Jukai was published, in which a young lover commits suicide in the forest, people started taking their own lives there at a rate of 50 to 100 deaths a year. The site holds so many bodies that the Yakuza pays homeless people to sneak into the forest and rob the corpses. The authorities sweep for bodies only on an annual basis, as the forest sits at the base of Mt. Fuji and is too dense to patrol more frequently."
"A petition calling on the United States to begin construction of a moon-sized superweapon has achieved 25,000 signatures, which according to the rules of the Obama administration's feel-good bullshit platform We the People, requires a response from the White House. None has yet been made."
"Quatermass II is a British science-fiction serial, originally broadcast by BBC Television in the autumn of 1955. It is the second in the Quatermass series by writer Nigel Kneale, and the first of those serials to survive in its entirety in the BBC archives. It is also the earliest surviving complete British science-fiction television production."
The plot concerns Quatermass' investigation of reports of strange meteorite showers in England. His inquires lead him to a huge industrial plant, strikingly similar to his own plans for a Moon colony. This top-secret plant is in fact the centre of a conspiracy involving alien infiltration of the highest echelons of the British Government. Quatermass struggles to convince a sceptical public of the threat before it is too late.
Despite the apparent link to Astounding, the magazine was not sponsoring the series. Campbell merely acted as host, commentator, and, perhaps, script editor and adaptor. Each episode featured musings by Campbell on the cultural, psychological, or sociological implications of that night's theme.
Episode summaries at the second link; episodes at the first.
"The Changes is a British children's science fiction television serial filmed in 1973 and first broadcast in 1975 by the BBC. It was directed by John Prowse. It is based on the trilogy written by Peter Dickinson: The Weathermonger (1968), Heartsease (1969) and The Devil's Children (1970)."
The Changes posits a Britain where a sudden enveloping noise emanating from all machinery and technology causes the population to destroy them. The resulting upheaval displaces many people and reverts society back to a pre-industrial age where there is a deep suspicion of anyone who may be harbouring machinery. Even the words for technology are taboo. The remnants of modern technology that escape destruction (such as electricity pylons) produce a physical and sometimes violent repulsion among those left in Britain.
It's worth remembering things like The Changes, obscure as they might be now, as an example of how culture creates the conditions for the future, and resonates far beyond the scant days, weeks, or months when it's considered current. I don't know if Peter Dickinson or the producers of the BBC TV series had any kind of agenda in mind beyond that magpie culture worker's attraction to trends and bright shards of the zeitgeist. I do know that Dickinson began writing his trilogy in 1968, when the counterculture's Aquarian dreams of agrarian utopias were at their most fashionable, and the TV series was filmed in 1973 and aired in 1975, by which point everyone knew what a commune was and even the healthiest inner cities looked dingy and worn-out, even if they weren't in Detroit-like terminal decline.
I can't speak to to what the producers were thinking, if anything, by way of making a point but it is worth noting the Establishment Marxism of the mid-1970s was - shockingly - a good deal less polemical than today's BBC. It's also important to understand that the The Changes is part of the same tradition as Quatermass; creepy, creepy stuff. Such is children's entertainment in England. But then, even the must unsettling strains of British weird fiction don't compare to some of today's fantasy-as-public policy.
Marx was a technological determinist. Industrialization, and the social forms that arose with it, presented serious problems, yes, but they were also what dragged us up out of feudalism. To Marx, this was a good thing. What most self-styled Marxists failed to notice is that socialism happened more or less on time and as predicted; it's just that it happened under FDR in the United States and not, first, in London as anticipated. And communism, by Marx's definition, looks a lot like what you find at an Apple store (pace the famous 1984 ad). So, thanks internet, mass customization, and a more and more broadly distributed ownership of the means of production made possible by technological progress and authentic revolutionaries like Steve Jobs. About the only thing Marx would have approved of at an Occupy demo would be the iPhones.
To a British Marxist of the 1970s, even one made stupid by the so called cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School (via Raymond Williams and the rest of British Cultural Studies), smashing machinery in a fit of moronic Luddite mass hysteria would be a sign of madness; a story for scaring children. To today's aristocratic, decadent and nihilist "left", the product of our elite schools allied with a rape cult from the Dark Ages and preaching Chicken Little as science, it is a program of action.
"The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (German: Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse) is a 1933 German crime film directed by Fritz Lang. The movie is a sequel to Lang's silent film Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922) and features many cast and crew members from Lang's previous films. The film features Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Dr. Mabuse who is in an insane asylum where he is found frantically writing his crime plans."
Last night in Venice Beach, the spirit of Mars was evoked through the vessel of James Franco. Ray Bradbury was meant to be propitiated, somehow.
In conjunction with the current exhibition For the Martian Chronicles, L&M Arts is pleased to present The Bartzabel Working, a performance by filmmaker and artist Brian Butler. Based on a ceremonial evocation of the spirit of Mars, first written and performed in London in 1910 by the famed British occultist Aleister Crowley, the ritual later became part of Los Angeles history in 1946 when Jet Propulsion Laboratory rocket scientist and Crowley protégé Jack Parsons conducted his own version of this rite, with the intention of placing a martial curse on a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard.
For his reinterpretation of this historical performance, Butler will conjure Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars, evoking the site that was once home to the late sci-fi author Ray Bradbury and currently comprises L&M Arts. The ritual will have Butler as Chief Magus, leading a cast drawn from his upcoming feature film King Death and featuring Henry Hopper as Assistant Magus, Noot Seear as Magus Adjuvant, and James Franco as Material Basis, the vessel though which the spirit of Mars manifests.
"Veronica Foster, popularly known as 'Ronnie, the Bren Gun Girl', was a Canadian icon representing nearly one million Canadian women who worked in the manufacturing plants that produced munitions and materiel during World War II. Foster worked for John Inglis Co. Ltd producing Bren light machine guns on a production line on Strachan Avenue in Toronto, Ontario."
And, more than fifty years later, still the hottest thing you are going to see today. She's dancing at the link.
"After more than 4,000 years — almost since the dawn of recorded time, when Utnapishtim told Gilgamesh that the secret to immortality lay in a coral found on the ocean floor — man finally discovered eternal life in 1988."