Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dead Letters and Render Ghosts

Tomorrow morning in half-wakefulness you will mumble an UNINTELLIGIBLE WORD.

This UNINTELLIGIBLE WORD is an address to a virtual condominium complex, a rendering of a mall, a proposed state-of-the-art multiplex. A 3 dimensional projection of a place that may exist soon. THE POTENTIAL PLACE.

Here in THE POTENTIAL PLACE, the sun's rays are heatless vectors and streets are paved with pixels.

Tomorrow as you wake, you will type the previous night's dreams into a browser and email them to yourself before they fade.

CC the UNINTELLIGIBLE WORD.

In THE POTENTIAL PLACE there are no mail carriers, no mail trucks. There is only a DEAD LETTER OFFICE. A clerk in THE DEAD LETTER OFFICE will receive your transmission, print it out, copy it in triplicate, and send it to the appropriate parties.

Your dream will be valuable in THE POTENTIAL PLACE. THE POTENTIAL PLACE is an ever expanding EMPIRE. The EMPIRE is in constant need of blueprints.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Perfect iPhone Case

How is it possible that no one has made a protective iPhone case with this aesthetic yet:



A beige box with a raised rainbow apple on the back would be perfect. I would buy that.

The beige box is now an aesthetic choice like 8 bit sounds and imagery. It simultaneously says, "This was once state of the art" and "This is now obsolete" and these are truisms for any piece of tech we buy today, no matter how new the model.

From the day our tech comes out of it's box it is already looking back on it's glory days.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Limbo

I hear there's a lot of red tape to get into heaven. Did you get all the proper forms stamped and submitted in triplicate? A typo could mean an eternity in hell. My uncle Steve was accidentally issued two different account numbers and until both are cleared he will be stuck in limbo.

Limbo is the land where hold music is streamed from.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Love of Money is the Gamification of Life

The love of money is the gamification of life.

Other factors with which we could judge the success of life, such as happiness or having a positive impact on the world, are impossible to quantify. When we focus on these things we get confused and lose our way. So we substitute wealth as a clear and quantifiable goal and pretend that success is a hierarchical system.

To join the quest for wealth is an RPG.

Your deposit slip is the gold spilled after slaying an orc. Graduating to a new tax bracket is leveling up. Set up an account at www.mint.com and watch your net worth closely. How many hit points do you have left? What are your vital stats? Your diversified investment portfolio is your arsenal of swords, maces, and battle axes. Splurging on some Armani chain mail may be a necessary expense. It ups your clout points by 50 and grants you access to the forbidden temple where the dragons with the real treasure wait to be slain. Are you ready for that big raid or are you hoping to pay off our mortgage first?

Are you winning at life?


Class Warfare as Speciation

The aging gene can be turned off. Custom replacement organs that are grown from your own cells and cannot be rejected after transplanted can be grown in the laboratory. We are decades away from immortality.



But immortality will not come cheap so this technology will only be accessible to the wealthy. It will be debated if hording a cure for death is the same as genocide, but soon it won't matter.

The rich will tweak their genes, live to be thousands of years old. When choosing a mate, they will choose other immortals. Their differences from human will multiply until they are altogether different and genetically incompatible.

Class warfare will become speciation. The rich (homo plutus) will protect their evolutionary niche from the rival species with blatant genocide. Among the poor (homo sapien) there will be massive outbreaks of epidemics to which homo plutus find themselves immune.

A hundred thousand years ago, humans lived alongside Neanderthals. But not for long. In direct competition, one species will win and the other will die. In the coming war, the homo sapien still have the advantage in numbers, the homo plutus will have advantage in technology and resources. It is unclear who will win their place on this Earth, but it is clear that the lines in the sand are being drawn right now. We may be the last American generation with the option of upward mobility. We are the last with the freedom to choose sides in the coming war.

Place your bets. If you wish to switch sides, now may be a good time to start pinching those pennies and investing wisely.

Contrariwise, if you side with the humans, now may be a good time to stand your ground.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mirror Mirror

Your television is a mirror.



The bridge of the Star Trek Enterprise is a reflection of your living room.



You and your family sit and watch the Enterprise Crew on your TV set.



The crew of the Enterprise sit and watch your family through their viewscreen.


The Enterprise is comforted by the stability of our earthbound domestic life.



They color our household monotony with galactic adventure.



This is why we stare into the mirror.

Monday, November 7, 2011

In Defense of Oasis

If you dismiss Oasis, I suggest you think of Liam and Noel Gallagher as the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of Britpop. They are not to be taken seriously, but are always good for a few nonsensical rhymes and if you stick around long enough, they are sure to battle.


The rivalry continues even after the band split up, with lawsuits and badmouthing, and now with rival musical acts. Liam's Beady Eye...


and Noel Gallagher' High Flying Birds.



Musically, Noel is clearly the winner of this battle. The first line alone, "If I had a gun/I'd shoot a hole into the sun/and love would burn this city down for you" captures the almost-not-entirely-incoherent jibberish of Oasis' hayday. That line fits perfectly next to classic nonsensical lines like, "Slowly walking down the hall/faster than a cannonball."

This easily trumps Beady Eye's chorus, "Baby hold on/ Baby C'mon" which isn't even silly.

Noel also won points recently for brilliantly suggesting to Chuck Klosterman that critics have just been looking at his career from the wrong end. To see his work properly music critics must travel through the looking glass, beyond the garden of talking flowers and the buzzing of bread and butterflies to the wonderland where time runs backward. Here his detractors would find that if his musical output is viewed in reverse chronological order, Liam is a constantly improving genius.

That's logic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ADD versus Nanotech Linguists

Amazon just delivered Haruki Murakami's new book 1Q84 to my doorstep. The book is nearly 1000 pages long so I likely won't finish it. These days there is so much good media available in bite sized chunks that it's not worth sacrificing 2000 great bites of wise miscellany for one thousand page meditation on a single thing.

The internet has changed the way we ingest information and entertainment. But it's not ADD, it's the result of a new cost-benefit analysis. We are developing better information-fuel-efficiency through selective intake.

The best authors of the 21st century will be concept refineries pumping out high octane concentrate with no impurities.

Next gen Poets will be nanotech linguists capable of compressing Anna Karenina into a limerick.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leave Strange Ghosts








Neither ghosts nor biographies are fully formed people. After you die you will leave behind a caricature. So live strange and let your defining characteristics balloon.


Only your eccentricities will survive.






Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's Time For You To Blow Up

Here's a public service announcement:

You are really good at that thing you do. Put it out there. Don't let anyone tell you that you aren't mind-blowing and be prepared to blow up.

In two years Jimi Hendrix went from this... (He's the guy in the back row)



...to this



Give the full extent of what you have to offer and the world will be better for it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Riemann Zeta Function

Recall the famous quote by Arthur C Clarke, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

Consider the possibility that any sufficiently confusing mathematics is indistinguishable from art.

Take, for example, The Riemann Zeta Function.

Stare at the complex plane and see Mark Rothko's influence on the variables within the equations.



Skim the Riemann Zeta Function's wikipedia page and note poetry like, "Trivial Zeros", "Asymptomatic Probability", and "the Critical Strip", "Holomorphic Functions" and "Globally Convergent Series."

Graph the Riemann Zeta Function and watch the recursive spiraling through recursive loops, only to miraculously escape the predictable. See within this graph the narrative structure of every tale you've ever read. A character faces trial after trial after trial, held back by his own nature, until finally , through the lessons he learned in those trials, he grows enough as an individual to succeed.

Listen to an MP3 of the Riemann Zeta Function represented in sound waves. Hear it's music and imagine, alternately, the glowing of Merlin's staff and the powering up of the Large Hadron Collider.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Keys



Keys predated locks.

The T-Rex awarded to the Triceratops the key to the city on account of his valor and bravery. The key didn't unlock anything. It was just a big dumb symbol for a big dumb lizard.

Human lock makers made clever use of the symbol.

Sometimes we still hand out useless, dinosaur-sized keys to useful people.

Your assignment for today: render a useless symbol tangible and fashion a very practical purpose for it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Space That Joins Us

We need a new name for Cyberspace. We need a new name for "In Real Life"

What sets virtual space apart is that it has no scale.

Time exists in cyberspace, yet height, length and depth are only abstracts to be simulated or ignored at will.

We exploit the Web's scalelessness to connect people and/or devices across distance.

Cyberspace is the additive space that connects us. I suggest we call it Positive Space.

"The Real world" is the subtractive space that separates us. I suggest we call it Negative Space.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Sherlock Holmes and the Solution to "Information Overload"



The greatest fictional mind in literary history had no idea that the earth rotated around the sun. When informed of the Copernican model of our solar system, he replied, "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it."



In Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's story, A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes went on to say, "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose."

"A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work...It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones...You say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.""

These days many of us with access to the internet complain of "information overload". We are inundated with so much data that we are familiar with everything, but master of nothing. The knowledge we absorb is crammed so tight inside our skulls that we can't seem to make any meaningful connections out of the mess.

Sherlock had the answer: sort through your every stimulus and only take in that which pertains to your interests. Be selective. There are many tools at your disposal to sift through the web for the information you want, and just as many tools to block out the unwanted.

As my friend Regis Lacher is fond of saying, "It isn't 'information overload' it's 'Filter Failure.'"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Swarms of Cyborgs Upon Thee

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed mind-controlled cyborg insects to replace Micro-Aerial Vehicles for purposes of military surveillance.

"Behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:"

These modified insects will be easier and cheaper to develop in large quantities, than their purely robotic counterparts.

"And they shall cover the face of the earth"



Once perfected, the computerized implants will be fueled by the excess energy lost in the beating of the wings and will not need tiny batteries.

Once installed in an armada of flies and locusts, DARPA will secure their ranking as "go-to" organization for DIY Biblical Plagues.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Destino

The Disney Vault has cracked and out of the fissure has slithered the liquid remnants of Dalvador Dali's melted clocks, mixed with the same ink that painted Mickey Mouse black.

Back in 1943, Walt and Dali began a collaborative animated short. It was to be a surreal love story of Chronos, the embodiment of time, and his ill-fated affair with a mortal woman. It was originally considered for Walt's vision of a constantly evolving version of Fantasia in which new segments would periodically rotate in and out with old favorites, like a symphony altering it's program. The project was abandoned but it's memory persisted, and the unfinished remnants were picked up again by Walt's nephew Roy to be finished in 2003.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Invisible Knots







Automatic Leisure

We fantasize about developing robots to do our work for us, so we can relax and play and leave all the toiling to our mechanized creations. But most jobs cannot, in all practicality, be handled by robots due to their limitations in creative thought. Robots will never be able to replace most decision-making jobs. So why not teach the robots how to have a good time for us instead?

Spend some quality time with your robot so he won't ever feel the need to join a robotic uprising.



Let him take leisurely strolls along the surf while you meet with that difficult client.



Program him to take a dip in your pool and keep your kids company while you are stuck in rush hour traffic.



Program your robot to take pleasure in the little things in life that you just can't seem to get to.



Automate joy or you may never get around to it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reboot Scootin' Boogie

The film industry is in love with the "reboot". As soon as a popular film franchise starts losing it's luster they just recast the roles and sell us the same story again. This is often criticized as Hollywood's lack of imagination and unwillingness to take storytelling risks on new material.

But retelling stories is in our blood. Any story worth telling is worth re-telling.

For hundreds of thousands of years humans have gathered around the campfire at night to tell tales, and with each new generation a new teller inherits the story. It's only been since the invention of the printing press that one particular storyteller's details and flourishes have survived past his death.

Now information outlives it's creator. Different takes on the same story compete with each other across the divide of time.

William Shatner or Chris Pine?



George Reeve or Christopher Reeves?



More choices mean a greater chance of finding a story that connects to you directly.

The problem with the reboot is that when opposing versions of the same story compete, we lose the illusion of reality. Comparing different director's takes side by side exposes the artificiality of the story and we can no longer suspend disbelief.

We aren't upset by the financial exploitation of our tall tales, we are upset that our heroes no longer seem real to us.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cognitive Computers




IBM has announced that it has created and is now testing it's first Cognitive Computing chips. These chips are modeled after the synapses and neurons of the human brain. Current computers are little more than calculators, following every command through complicated and inefficient mathematics. Instead of following programming, Cognitive computers will experience and learn from their experiences.

The question is can they easily unlearn after they make mistakes? Will they self-correct so that misperceptions don't shape all subsequent experiences?

If so they will have a leg up on us.

Our personal realities are all defined by our misunderstandings and we just play along in that role as if stumbling through an episode of Three's Company.

Everyone is confused. Everyone is bound by their own miscalculation.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Pickled Fairy of Possibility

Jose Moldonado of Gualdalajara recently found a Fairy while picking guava fruit. The fairy died shortly after he captured it so he pickled it.



It could be a hoax, but I prefer to think about it like this:

If our universe is infinite, then anything that can exist will exist, which means that everything we can imagine will exist somewhere out there. As our universe expands and exhausts all rational possibilities, there will be a point at which all reason will break down so that it can get to all the unreasonable phenomena that must happen eventually.

The universe has a checklist longer than it's own circumfrence and everytime something crazy happens it runs a sharpee through another bulletpoint.

Fairy found, pickled.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

She said,


"Excuse me, sir...



You are wearing...



Golf Shoes."




Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Doppelgang Town







Developers in the Guangdon province of China have painstakingly recreated a life-sized replica of Hallstatt, Austria in their own country. They did this secretly, without letting anyone know. They sent in spies disguised as tourists to photograph every detail for reproduction.


When finished, we will have two identical towns, like quantum-entangled communities.


Architecture dictates behavior in subtle ways and so even the lives of the inhabitants will begin to mirror each other. What happens in one will happen to the other and vice versa.


This setting seems ripe for experimentation on the nature of identity. Drop a clone from Hallstatt into the Chinese version of his town and watch him or her. At what point do their lives diverge?


For all you know, your life may have been replicated on another continent, as well. Or you may be the replicated life, while the original goes about your daily tasks in a town in Argentina.


I've considered this. I think it probably happens all the time.

Hell, If you believe that our universe is infinite, then near-replicas of your life exist many times over somewhere out among the stars. The universe is already hard at work on these devious experiments on "Self".


Somewhere out there, someone has painstakingly reconstructed my whole life, cloned my DNA and placed that clone in a movieset recreation of my childhood in Yakima, Washington. They've spared no expense to recreate the entire city, right down to every forensic detail of every violent crime.


I suspect that this Doppelgang Town is on a far off inhabitable moon. An polyvinyl bubble sky holds in the atmosphere and keeps the locals from seeking success beyond the city limits. galactic tourists watch the other me through one way mirrors as i brush my teeth at night. The other me is in a cage of which he is half-aware, but can't escape. He has my face and my imagination but is trapped.

And we are living biographies of each other.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Weapons of Thought

Genes are concepts expressed in flesh. Your body is a petri dish for living ideas. Your will is a colony of intangibilities which pull strands of amino acids like the reins of a stagecoach.

But imagination is faster than natural selection so today we have technological processes for coding ideas into biological existence. What what took millions of years now takes months.

Eventually genetic splicing will be automated. One day we will engineer new genes and splice them into our nuclei directly from the spark of inspiration. Our thoughts and our DNA will tangle into a brand new helix.



We will become our thoughts. Our thoughts will change us physically.
The like-minded will form tribes, tribes will mutate into new species.

Honest debate will spread infectious concepts across enemy lines so we will guard ourselves from it. Conversation will be a biological warfare, so we will forget our ears and they will shrivel up and fall off our heads like unpicked grapes.

Ideas have a will of their own. Ideas are bent on world domination.

Our bodies are the weapons of thought.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Homogenization of Time

Look around you. Endless variety. Colors, sounds, tastes, eclectic life filling out every square millimeter of every niche. Take it all in quick. You have 5 seconds.


Five. It takes one second for the stainless steel body to be laser cut to the correct specifications. Take this second for the viruses, mammals, invertebrates and sea-life.


Four. It takes another second for the circuit boards to be printed and the pieces soldered to the motherboard. Take this second for the endless variety of things that grow green.


Three. It takes one second for the exotic matter to crystallize into the portal basin. Take this time to appreciate the weather.


Two. It takes one second to coat the chassis with a glossy anti-rust enamel. With this second, consider contemplating the beauty of cultural trends.


One. One last second is needed for the systems to check themselves and for the machine to go online. Take this last second to appreciate our history of innovation.

Its all gone...

Now.

At the moment the first time machine rolled off the assembly line, the concept of "change" ceased to exist.

The moment that time travel was invented, every moment in time was suddenly occupied by extra-temporal colonies. They overwrote your history instantly with an incessant blandness. The local color of nations and eras was washed aside in the fastest sort of gentrification.

A Starbucks opened in Pompeii.



...and one in 15th Century France


The neanderthal caves carved into the wind-blown cliffs of Gibralter were demolished to make room for condos with thin walls and granite counter tops. The primordial ponds in which proteins first formed were dredged.

Now stands an Olive Garden.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

T-Pain Doesn't Need Autotune.

"Put your hand on the boombox," she said.

Fear shot through Paul. He started to back away from the Reverend Mother, but felt the Gom Jabbar at his throat.

"What's in the boombox?" he asked.

"T-Pain."

T-Pain doesn't need autotune.

Generations of genetic selection have produced a human specimen with perfect robotic pitch and absolute mathematical control of his vocal cords. He is a singing Mentat capable of hitting notes with the level of precision known previously only to the forbidden thinking machines. T-Pain is the Kwasatz Haderach of recording guest vocals and banging strippers.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Head in the Clouds

According to scientists at Columbia, internet access has changed the way our memory functions.

We only commit to memory items that can't be googled.

Why should we clutter up our biological hard drive?

Our brains have already begun cloud computing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Ancient Avatars

The Internet is a village in need of a shaman. We need someone to connect our Facebook profiles with their historic predecessors known as the Ancient Avatars.


The Ancient Avatars are living heroic portraits of autobiographical tales and wishful public self-images. The essence of public personas of people long dead clarified through omission and distilled through retelling.

Every cave painting of a stick figure spearing a bison was the uploading a new profile photo for the village to identify with the mundane heroics of it's individuals. But the avatars of ash and pigment were given a life of their own and they still live today beyond their flawed and fleshy counterparts.


...just as our old profiles live on without us. Blogs of the dead still adorn the walls of Live Journal. Your image still decorates the wall of last winter's cave (MySpace). Some day cyber-archaeologists will take note of your favorite bands and study the YouTube tales that you retold on your Wall.

To reinforce your current avatar to survive the coming centuries you must reconnect it to it's ancestors. Retell myths on your profile page. Shout out the riddle of the Sphinx in the field marked "Interests". Caption your pics with tales of Harpies and the golden fleece. Tag your friends with the names of Argonauts.

Your digital persona is in a relationship with The Beyond and it is complicated.