[ B l o g / / Archive]

"You are in sex offender neighbourhood. Please be careful." 
...and allergies, wind and speed limits will also offend you. A free family protection tool coming to a smart-phone near you. Feel free to vomit.
Link (via fra, bagasch)

Bart Simpson promotes Scientology? 
Ned Flanders would not approve.

The Globalisation of Addiction 
In his third book, The Globalization of Addiction: a study in poverty of the spirit, Bruce Alexander proposes a radical rethink of addiction.
Bruce Alexander is best known - though deserves to be much better known - for the 'Rat Park' experiments he conducted in 1981. As an addiction psychologist, much of the data with which he worked was drawn from laboratory trials with rats and monkeys: the 'addictiveness' of drugs such as opiates and cocaine was established by observing how frequently caged animals would push levers to obtain doses. But Alexander's observations of addicts at the clinic where he worked in Vancouver suggested powerfully to him that the root cause of addiction was not so much the pharmacology of these particular drugs as the environmental stressors with which his addicts were trying to cope.

To test his hunch he designed Rat Park, an alternative laboratory environment constructed around the need of the subjects rather than the experimenters. A colony of rats, who are naturally gregarious, were allowed to roam together in a large vivarium enriched with wheels, balls and other playthings, on a deep bed of aromatic cedar shavings and with plenty of space for breeding and private interactions. Pleasant woodland vistas were even painted on the surrounding walls. In this situation, the rats' responses to drugs such as opiates were transformed. They no longer showed interest in pressing levers for rewards of morphine: even if forcibly addicted, they would suffer withdrawals rather than maintaining their dependence. Even a sugar solution could not tempt them to the morphine water (though they would choose this if naloxone was added to block the opiate effects). It seemed that the standard experiments were measuring not the addictiveness of opiates but the cruelty of the stresses inflicted on lab rats caged in solitary confinement, shaved, catheterised and with probes inserted into their median forebrain bundles.

Inquiry: Grilled-Cheese Madonna 
Since it came to light in 2004, it has become the quintessential holy image to appear on an item of food: the face, many say, of the Virgin Mary on a grilled-cheese sandwich. While it has sparked little piety—the Catholic church has not sanctioned it as divine—it has become the subject of controversy and ridicule and has even suffered insinuations of fakery. I once had custody of the curious item, and I was actually able to photograph and examine the image under magnification. Here are my findings. [...]


Bolivia Looking Forward: New Constitution Passed 
After Bolivia's new constitution was passed in a national referendum on Sunday, thousands gathered in La Paz to celebrate. Standing on the balcony of the presidential palace, President Evo Morales addressed a raucous crowd: "Here begins a new Bolivia. Here we begin to reach true equality."

Polls conducted by Televisión Boliviana announced that the document passed with 61.97% support from some 3.8 million voters. According the poll, 36.52% of voters voted against the constitution, and 1.51% cast blank and null votes. The departments where the constitution passed included La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro, Potosí, Tarija, and Pando. It was rejected in Santa Cruz, Beni, and Chuquisaca.

The constitution, which was written in a constituent assembly that first convened in August of 2006, grants unprecedented rights to Bolivia's indigenous majority, establishes broader access to basic services, education and healthcare and expands the role of the state in the management of natural resources and the economy.

The funniest sentence in the Russian language? 
>>the goat cried out in an inhuman voice<<

Revisiting "In the Heat of the Night" 
By Leonard Quart.
In the fifties and through most of the sixties few if any Hollywood films dealt in a serious and authentic manner with black life. The only one that readily comes to mind is Michael Roemer's (a white filmmaker) Nothing But a Man (1964), starring Ivan Dixon as an itinerant black laborer in the Deep South of the early 60s. Nothing But a Man was a low-budget, realist film that managed to capture the humiliation of being a second-class citizen in the 60s south, and, more distinctively, African-American society's class differences and the fragility of its family structure.

There were no working black directors in Hollywood, and also only one genuine black film star during that period, Sidney Poitier. His self-possessed, charismatic, heroic presence graced a number of films ranging from Stanley Kramer's work of liberal poster art, The Defiant Ones (1958) to the glossy, chaste interracial romance Guess Who's Coming Home to Dinner (1967).

Poitier was the black star who Hollywood had designated as their token African-American. In fact, he was the first African-American actor to achieve leading man status in Hollywood films. In film after film he played a, character whose humanity and dignity made him consistently successful with white audiences. Poitier never bowed or scraped to whites, but he was so reasonable and humane that white audience knew that his anger, no matter how much he would smolder, would always stay within acceptable bounds, and that there was nothing to fear from the characters he portrayed. His characters were the type of men who could only arouse the hatred or abuse of the most ignorant or racist of whites.

During the more militant, and race-conscious sixties, black activists often put down Poitier's persona as middle-class, masochistic, and liberal. Nevertheless, he was one black actor who no longer had to sing, dance, clown, and roll his eyes to have his image appear on the screen. And though Hollywood's handling of the race problem was neither bold nor imaginative, given the conformist and racist political tenor of the time, the emergence of a token black star could still be viewed as a minor triumph. [...]

What The Obama Government Might Mean To The Arts 
Barack Obama was sworn in on 20 January with a historic mandate for change. Extraordinary times call for bold actions and visionary ideas. Big government is back. Hopes are for an administration that is not only more progressive, but also smarter.

This could be good news for the arts—as long as they can build a convincing case that they serve the public interest. Long banished to the periphery of public affairs, arts policy is poised to make a comeback under various 21st-century guises: from economic stimulus programmes to "soft diplomacy" initiatives to digital-age intellectual property regulation. The opportunity to rethink government's role comes at a time when it is readily acknowledged among arts professionals that cultural support in America is outdated in its assumptions, sclerotic in its methods, biased in its outcomes, and inefficient in its use of philanthropic and taxpayer dollars. It's time to move on. But where?

Scandinavia, Atheist Heaven 
So the typical Dane or Swede doesn't believe all that much in God. And simultaneously, they don't commit much murder. But aren't they a dour, depressed lot, all the same? Not according to Ruut Veenhoven, professor emeritus of social conditions for human happiness at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Veenhoven is a leading authority on worldwide levels of happiness from country to country. He recently ranked 91 nations on an international happiness scale, basing his research on cumulative scores from numerous worldwide surveys. According to his calculations, the country that leads the globe — ranking No. 1 in terms of its residents' overall level of happiness — is little, peaceful, and relatively godless Denmark.

The connection between religion — or the lack thereof — and societal health is admittedly complex. It is difficult to definitively establish that secularism is always good for society and religion always bad. However, the often posited opposite claim is equally difficult to substantiate: that secularism is always bad for a society and religion always good. To be sure, in some instances, religion can be a strong and positive ingredient in establishing societal health, prosperity, and well-being. And when considering what factors contribute to the making of a good society, religion can be a positive force.

Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard 
If you plan to learn Chinese, you may be interested in this enlightening and delightful piece by David Moser, University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies:
Whereas modern Mandarin is merely perversely hard, classical Chinese is deliberately impossible. Here's a secret that sinologists won't tell you: A passage in classical Chinese can be understood only if you already know what the passage says in the first place. This is because classical Chinese really consists of several centuries of esoteric anecdotes and in-jokes written in a kind of terse, miserly code for dissemination among a small, elite group of intellectually-inbred bookworms who already knew the whole literature backwards and forwards, anyway. An uninitiated westerner can no more be expected to understand such writing than Confucius himself, if transported to the present, could understand the entries in the "personal" section of the classified ads that say things like: "Hndsm. SWGM, 24, 160, sks BGM or WGM for gentle S&M, mod. bndg., some lthr., twosm or threesm ok, have own equip., wheels, 988-8752 lv. mssg. on ans. mach., no weirdos please."

S. M. Stirling's "The Sky People" 
"The Sky People" by S. M. Stirling. Mind-candy! The first probes to Venus and Mars in 1962 revealed that we live in Edgar Rice Burroughs's solar system, which rather re-directs the Cold War.

Marc Vitrac was born in Louisiana in the early 1960's, about the time the first interplanetary probes delivered the news that Mars and Venus were teeming with life—even human life. At that point, the "Space Race" became the central preoccupation of the great powers of the world.

Now, in 1988, Marc has been assigned to Jamestown, the US-Commonwealth base on Venus, near the great Venusian city of Kartahown. Set in a countryside swarming with sabertooths and dinosaurs, Jamestown is home to a small band of American and allied scientist-adventurers.

The Story of Mister W. 

Is It Time to Bail Out of America? 
California State Controller John Chiang announced on January 26 that California's bills exceed its tax revenues and credit line and that the state is going to print its own money known as IOUs. The template is already designed.

Instead of receiving their state tax refunds in dollars, California residents will receive IOUs. Student aid and payments to disabled and needy will also come in the form of IOUs. California is negotiating with banks to get them to accept the IOUs as deposits.

California is often identified as the world’s eighth largest economy, and it is broke.

2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut 
Nick DiChario envisions a not-so-rosy future courtesy of Kurt Vonnegut.
"Everything was perfectly swell.

There were no prisons, no slums, no insane asylums, no cripples, no poverty, no wars.

All diseases were conquered. So was old age."
So begins '2 B R 0 2 B', a clever short story by Kurt Vonnegut Jr, the author of far more famous works such as Slaughterhouse Five, Cat's Cradle, The Sirens of Titan, Mother Night, and many others. The story first appeared in the January 1962 issue of the pulp sci-fi magazine Worlds of If.

Its modest utopian beginnings quickly open up to an underlying dystopia: the only way to maintain the perfect balance on this seemingly perfect far-future Earth is to limit the population to precisely forty million souls. But old age has been beaten. To maintain eternal happiness, should birth control fail, one must acquiesce to either infanticide or suicide – choose your pleasure. Those few adults who decide they want to die are encouraged to call the Federal Bureau of Termination's hotline at 2 B R 0 2 B (pronounced 2 B or naught 2 B) and make an appointment for euthanasia, thus opening the door for the birth of a new human. No one is forced into death, unless you count social pressure, although there is plenty of that in a society where the most admired man on the planet is Dr Hitz, "responsible for setting up the very first gas chamber in Chicago."
Free download of story on Project Gutenberg

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Turning Us Into Mad Hatters? 
Well, it turns out that the anti-high fructose corn syrup crusaders had something to fear all along. Not just rotting teeth or hyperactivity, but evidently mercury in their children's Frosted Flakes and Fruit Gushers, too.

Delirious Screens: Flesh Shadows & Cool Technology 
By Ted Hiebert.
Behind the screen, there is nothing. Not darkness, not fantasy, not even the flickering lights of consciousness aroused. And yet, within the screen, the case is quite the opposite -- here, within the delirium of technological living we encounter an intensified imaginary, new worlds of interactive possibility, in short, new opportunities for the falsification of being.

This provocation has strategic purpose, for the question of screen culture is less about the technological possibilities initiated by invention, and much more about the delirious seduction of a life screened-in. Here, amidst the growing participatory potential of interactivity, the icy prophecy of Marshall McLuhan's "cool technology" is brought to the cold light of the Lacanian mirror. For, as Lacan knew well, behind the mirror there is also nothing, which is why it becomes so urgent to invent a fantastic something to which technological effect can be attributed. The mirror, one might posit, is the first screen, the first "cool technology" -- the instance where the participatory performance of living first takes on its split dynamic between the "hot" social and cultural self and its "cool" other.

The screen, however, also does something that the mirror never could -- namely, it allows for its fantasy to be realized, and not only in potential. The very condition of screen-culture rests on a will-to-delirium implicit in the amplification of imaginative possibilities.

What follows is a series of three meditations on aspects of the screen as it relates to knowledge and technological living, three variations on a theme, or three delusions of technological grandeur. Respectively, these contemplations will proceed from paradox, to illusion and, finally, to hallucination as representative elements of a culture screened-in. [...]

Helium Rains Inside Saturn, Jupiter And Other Jovian Planets 
Models of how Saturn and Jupiter formed may soon take on a different look. By determining the properties of hydrogen-helium mixtures at the millions of atmospheres of pressure present in the interior of Saturn and Jupiter, physicists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have determined the temperature at a given pressure when helium becomes insoluble in dense metallic hydrogen.

What, Exactly, Is Slumdog Millionaire? 
Is it a) a portrait of the real India, b) a Bollywood-style melodrama, c) a fairy tale, or d) a stylishly shot collection of clichés?

Poe at 200 
2009 marks the bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe, arguably the most famed and influential writer in American history. Not only does his work entirely limn the culture, but he also created no fewer than two genres of popular fiction — mystery and modern horror — almost single-handedly. Virtually anyone in the U.S. can recite his poetry (a few lines here and there, at least). His personal life and ambitions inform the clichés of the starving writer in his garret and that of the mad genius. And it's nigh impossible for someone to graduate from an American high school without having read him.

Poe was also a player of hoaxes, a plagiarist, had a substance abuse problem, and couldn't keep a roof over his head. Poe was a proponent of slavery, the worst sort of would-be social climber, and married a 13-year-old girl in his cousin Virginia Clemm. None of this information is new, of course — these fun facts are probably the answers to a fill-in-the-blank quiz given each year in some sixth-grade classroom in Ohio. The problem is that Poe has been so completely taught that he is very rarely read with the eyes of a reader.

Extreme hiring 
When extreme programming becomes the standard, extreme hiring is the next step. They keep looking for skills, yes. But for kindergarten skills: the next employee will be the one who is collaborative and helps others in fulfilling their tasks. In particular they want participants to "make their partner look good."
Guess they are mad as hell.

CIO article
menlo innovations
extreme interviewing

2 Euro 50 for "Force Sting"! 
monochrom content info
We got two more donations (50 cents and 2 euros) for our campaign "Force Sting", thus raising the bar to 55 euros!

"Force Sting" tries to force the rock singer "Sting" ("Russians love their children too") to appear for a bad cause (e.g. skinning seal babies, atomic energy in Eastern Europe, total extinction of species, sterilization of lefties, excessive packaging; Windows XP presentations are harmless). For this cause we want to offer him a sum of money so high that he cannot refuse. Thus we need your support!

Clever Critters: 8 Best Non-Human Tool Users 
[...] a compilation of some of the most interesting animal tool use yet observed. Much more likely remains to be found: until Jane Goodall watched chimpanzees fishing for termites with sticks, scientists had been reluctant to credit animals with such sophisticated behavior — perhaps because, as Charles Darwin noted, "Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal."

Google & the Future of Books 
By Robert Darnton
How can we navigate through the information landscape that is only beginning to come into view? The question is more urgent than ever following the recent settlement between Google and the authors and publishers who were suing it for alleged breach of copyright. For the last four years, Google has been digitizing millions of books, including many covered by copyright, from the collections of major research libraries, and making the texts searchable online. The authors and publishers objected that digitizing constituted a violation of their copyrights. After lengthy negotiations, the plaintiffs and Google agreed on a settlement, which will have a profound effect on the way books reach readers for the foreseeable future. What will that future be?

Smallest Possible Switch: Single Gold Atom Forms The Contact 
The smallest mechanical switch plus an electronic switch of a type never seen before. That’s how physicist Marius Trouwborst sums up the results of his PhD research on electric current through atoms and molecules. "The ultimate aim of nanotechnology is to use molecules for electronics," he says. "That aim has now come a step closer."

Objectified: Documentary about Industrial Design 
Objectified is a feature-length independent documentary about industrial design. It's a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It's about the people who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It's about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability. It's about our relationship to mass-produced objects and, by extension, the people who design them.

Link trailer (via peterpur)

Urban Hacking: Paraflows 2009 
monochrom content info
paraflows 09 - festival for digital arts and cultures

The topic of the fourth festival for digital arts and cultures in the city

of Vienna is URBAN HACKING.


The city of Vienna has a long tradition of art performances and interventions in public spaces. This year's festival paraflows09 would like to connect these approaches to public and urban spaces while at the same time comment on the roles of digital media by exploring, challenging, and constructing urban infrastructure.

We are interested in projects that investigate the use of urban space for performances, the hacking of and intervention with urban publics. How can areas of freedom be created, discovered and be put to use? How do regulated spaces work as opposed to the unsupervised? Whom does the city/street/net and their infrastructure belong to? What role does technology play in the urban space? How can social structures be designed and remodelled? How can "urban hacking" redefine urban space, make us think about and live in it along different lines? To what extend can the redefinition of public spaces help to manifest protest against the establishment, advertisement, and consumerist societies?

The net, a public infrastructure with all its alcoves, possibilities and mechanisms, has now also become an important instrument for society to communicate. By adding hyper space into the equation internet has expanded the public real spaces. How these parallel levels of reality organise themselves and what freedom of movement they grant the individual person is one of the issues of paraflows09 URBAN HACKING.

For more information on paraflows09 URBAN HACKING visit http://www.paraflows.at.

We are looking for artistic positions dealing with the issues as afore mentioned.

Pls send your application as pdf file via e-mail to: urban_hacking(at)paraflows.at
or ship to:
Museumsplatz 1
A-1070 Vienna

DEADLINE: March 15th, 2009

Puns involving hell, pleas for help and pointless misspellings 
This chart is genius. It's about the 'Metal, Kid.

I got this link via the 'Tap. Not Spinal. The Crail.


Making Things: Gaza Edition 

In this video a pair of polite young fighters in Gaza show how they make the homemade rockets which they fire into Israeli settlements. It's sort of like this instructables guide, except that the rockets are supposed to kill people. Most of them don't, because these guys have little more than plumbing supplies to work with.

The launch scene is strangely serene, having more the feel of a college prank than an act of aggression. These are the kind of parallels I find most disturbing.

monochrom: "One Minute" 
monochrom content info
There is too much talking...

Link (hi-res available)

The Obama Action Figure & Its Creator 
Screenkids.tv present "The Obama Action Figure & Its Creator".


Supertrain! A series about a super train! 
What a gem of ultratelevisionary television.
The series took place on the "Supertrain", an imagined nuclear-powered bullet train that was equipped with amenities more appropriate to a cruise ship than a train, such as swimming pools and shopping centers. It was so big it had to run on very broad gauge track (not two sets of tracks as depicted in some advertising). The train took 36 hours to go from New York City to Los Angeles. Much like its contemporary The Love Boat, the plots concerned the passengers' social lives, usually with multiple intertwining storylines, and most of the cast was composed of guest stars. The production was elaborate, with huge sets and a high-tech model train for outside shots.

At the time, Supertrain was the most expensive series ever aired in the United States. The production was beset by problems, including a model train that crashed, and while it was heavily advertised during the 1978-1979 season, it suffered from bad reviews and low viewership; despite attempts to salvage the show by reworking the cast, it never took off and left the air after only three months.

Link (via Hawkdog)

Wanderwörter in Indo-European languages 
A nice blog entry about Wanderwörter (words that travel between languages in a region).
This is the last of the posts I promised, showing what loanwords, including Wanderwörter, look like from the standpoint of mainstream historical linguistic methodology. After this I'm going to have to stop posting for a while; term is starting, with a full load of teaching and advising, and unfortunately I’m also chair of my department at the moment.

The first three words discussed here are possible or probable loanwords into subgroups of Indo-European; whether you want to call them Wanderwörter depends on how much wandering you want to see demonstrated before you apply the term. The last word fits the definition of a Wanderwort unproblematically. [...]

Bailouts for the banks, bullets for the people: Mass uprising of Greece's youth 
Why did Greek youth take to the streets? For the first time since the second world war young people have no hope of a better life than their parents. But there is also a failure of trust in politicians and all state institutions, particularly the police.

A Talk with Frank Wilczek 
Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist at MIT and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics (2004), is known, among other things, for the discovery of asymptotic freedom, the development of quantum chromodynamics, the invention of axions, and the discovery and exploitation of new forms of quantum statistics (anyons). He is the author of Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces.
The most exciting thing that can happen is when theoretical dreams that started as fantasies, as desires, become projects that people work hard to build. There is nothing like it; it is the ultimate tribute. At one moment you have just a glimmer of a thought and at another moment squiggles on paper. Then one day you walk into a laboratory and there are all these pipes, and liquid helium is flowing, and currents are coming in and out with complicated wiring, and somehow all this activity is supposedly corresponds to those little thoughts that you had. When this happens, it's magic.

Why Cuba Still Matters 
By Diana Raby.
In the early 1990s there was near unanimity in the media, in Western political circles, and even among academics that the collapse of the Cuban revolution was imminent. Even today, many observers regard it as only a matter of time for Cuba to undergo a transition to democracy (understood as a narrowly defined polyarchy) and a "market economy."

But the fact that Cuban socialism has survived the extraordinary rigors of the "Special Period" and is still functioning nearly twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall should give pause for thought. Even the prolonged incapacity of Fidel Castro and his subsequent resignation as president has not led to chaos or upheaval, as many predicted. Why then has Cuba survived, and what does it mean for socialist and progressive politics today?

'Molecular Parasites' In Human Genome? 
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, determined the structure of a protein (L1ORF1p), which is encoded by a parasitic genetic element and which is responsible for its mobility. The so-called LINE-1 retrotransposon is a mobile genetic element that can multiply and insert itself into chromosomal DNA at many different locations. This disturbs the genetic code at the site of integration, which can have serious consequences for the organism.

Social Networking Sites and the Surveillance Society 
Social Networking Sites and the Surveillance Society. A Critical Case Study of the Usage of studiVZ, Facebook, and MySpace by Students in Salzburg in the Context of Electronic Surveillance
By Christian Fuchs.
Link (PDF) [via gf]

The Goon Bible Project - Book of Job 

Some Points About Pointing 
Raymond Tallis shows that the gesture is not so obvious.
My pointing something out to you is a request for joint visual attention to the same object. It is based on a highly explicit general sense of the kind of creature you are: unlike other creatures, (most) humans have an unequivocal sense that others have minds. On top of this, there is a specific sense of your knowledge being defective compared with mine, based on my observation of your (literal) point of view. We are reminded just how remarkable this is when we encounter human beings who lack this sense: people with autism who have no integrated sense of themselves, and no sense of other's sense of themselves. A poignant early sign of autism is the failure to point – a gesture which usually appears towards the end of the first year of life, before the emergence of language. Pointing, in short, is a potent testimony to the infant's sense (again unique to human beings) of living in a shared, common world, a public reality, and of its communicative urge.

Pointing is pre-linguistic, but it is important not to exaggerate the sense in which it is proto-linguistic. Individual words belong to systems of signs and make sense only as part of such systems – as loci in semantic fields stitched together by grammar. By contrast, the field of pointing is the visual field, and its grammar is almost non-existent. St Augustine's notion that parents teach their children to speak by pointing at objects and uttering their names was brilliantly criticised by Wittgenstein in the opening pages of Philosophical Investigations, and led to some of his most famous theories about language. Reflecting on the modest role played by pointing as a bridge from babbling to speech awakens one's sense of the mysterious nature of language. Investigating the scope and limits of ostensive definition – defining words by literally pointing out their objects (eg "That's 'vermilion'") – casts an interesting light on the nature of linguistic reference, of universals, and of the very complex relationship between the arrays of material objects that surround us and the world as it is captured in spoken and written discourse.

Why we can't stop birds downing aircraft 
The aircraft that splashed into the Hudson River is unlikely to be the last plane to be downed by a birdstrike, says Paul Marks.

Assassins of the Mind 
When Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on novelist Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses, it was the opening shot in a war on cultural freedom. Two decades later, the violence continues, and Muslim fundamentalists have gained a new advantage: media self-censorship.

Vocabulary of Smell? 
So why is it that the words we use to describe smells are the names of actual things with particular odors (rose, ammonia, hay, sulphur), while we have abstract words for color (red, green, light, dark) and touch (rough, smooth, hard, soft)?

In honor of Ricardo 
In the movie "Wrath of Kahn", William Shatner immortalized his mortal enemy by shouting his name for a long time.

This graph shows just how long the average person holds down the 'a' key when google searching for Kahn!

It drops off after 13, but picks up a bit around 40.
Rest in peace, Ricardo Montalbán.

Barackwurst: The Inauguration Sausage 

You may live in a giant hologram 
Our everyday experience might itself be a holographic projection of physical processes that take place on a distant, 2D surface.

The idea that we live in a hologram probably sounds absurd, but it is a natural extension of our best understanding of black holes, and something with a pretty firm theoretical footing. It has also been surprisingly helpful for physicists wrestling with theories of how the universe works at its most fundamental level.


How to fix a broken plasma screen -- with a baseball bat and a wall 

When solidarity with the Jewish state becomes dangerous: Police Remove Israeli Flag during Islamist Protest March in Germany 
Police in the western German city of Duisburg have admitted they removed flags a student had hung in his apartment in support of Israel during a pro-Palestinian protest march in the city. Officers broke down his door and removed the flags. (...)

"Suddenly," the student explained, "I saw a police officer on the balcony on the second floor" in the apartment located directly beneath his. The officer ripped down the Israeli flag that had been affixed to P.'s balcony. A short time later he witnessed an officer inside his own apartment taking down the flag that had been hung in the bedroom.

The police's moves caused loud cheering amongst the protesters -- a fact not only reported by the student, but also confirmed in videos of the event that have been widely circulated on YouTube. The incident first came to the attention of the media after journalists at the local blog "Die Ruhrbarone" reported on it. The objects reportedly thrown at the apartment included what appeared to be small chunks of ice, a folded up pocket knife, nail clippers and also what looked like a stone.

'War on terror was wrong' says David Miliband in today's Guardian 
David Miliband, Britain's Foreign Secretary, wrote a comment in today's Guardian about the mistake of lumping together everything under the sun and brand it 'the war on terror'.

"The "war on terror" also implied that the correct response was primarily military. But as General Petraeus said to me and others in Iraq, the coalition there could not kill its way out of the problems of insurgency and civil strife."


India: Gods and Corporations 
Most corporates, of course, do both things--swindle the earth as well as invest in religion. And they take care to bribe the auditors in both places. Especially in India, where Hindus actually worship wealth as a goddess called Laxmi, and where the acquiring of vaibhav (worldly stature, replete with wherewithal) is an endorsed spiritual goal. Like religious institutions of the top order the world-over, the Vatican for one, some of India's temple trusts are among the richest corporates going, and the classes and the masses have an appropriately unequal access to their sanctum sanctorums. And those that are out of caste have none, even as many gods that are installed within have not even a human face.

Coffee Lovers, Club Mate Consumers: High Caffeine Intake Linked To Hallucination Proneness 
High caffeine consumption could be linked to a greater tendency to hallucinate, a new research study suggests.

RIP Ricardo Montalban 
He was a "suave leading man who was one of the first Mexican-born actors to make it big in Hollywood." But he's best remembered by Boomers and Gen-Xers as a preternaturally smooth TV pitchman for Chrysler, Capt. Kirk's most butter enemy in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and as the presiding spirit on the series Fantasy Island.

The End of White America? 
The Election of Barack Obama is just the most startling manifestation of a larger trend: the gradual erosion of "whiteness" as the touchstone of what it means to be American. If the end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, what will the new mainstream look like--and how will white Americans fit into it? What will it mean to be white when whiteness is no longer the norm? And will a post-white America be less racially divided—or more so?

Jonathan Mann: What Does It Mean To Love A Machine? 
monochrom content info
Jonathan finally published a YouTube video of the song he debuted at the Arse Elektronika 2008 opening night in San Francisco.

What Does It Mean To Love A Machine? from Jonathan Mann on Vimeo.

Add N To (X) - Metal Fingers In My Body 

Just how much time do you spend on Twitter? 
You wonder how much time you wasted by twittering?

monochrom at ETech's LateTech 
monochrom content info
It's official!
Join us Wednesday, March 11 for LateTech, our [somewhat] late night soiree where tech meets comedy, magic and more! Be more than just a spectator or passive member of the audience. LateTech is our showcase of conceptual tech wizardry where the audience becomes part of the spectacle.

The LateTech program includes the incomparable hi tech magic of Seth Raphael, the tech-meets-comedy stylings of Brian Malow, and presentation from Johannes Grenzfurthner of Monochrom, a favorite of the ETech community (Watch this clip from ETech '08)—capping off a fantastic night of artistry that already includes Zoë Keating, Andrew Schneider and the ETech Fest, the ETech emerging arts fest, as part of a full featured evening at ETech. Open to conference attendees as well as FreeTech attendees.

History of the Internet 

The tyranny of nodes: Towards a critique of social network theories 
Networks have become a powerful metaphor to explain the social realities of our times. Everywhere we look there are attempts to explain all kinds of social formations in terms of networks: citizen networks, corporate networks, gamer networks, terrorist networks, learning networks… and so on. Information and communication technologies—in particular the internet—and the structures they enable have greatly influenced how we imagine the social. It's similar to what happened in cognitive science when the computer was taken as the favored metaphor for explaining how the brain works, except that now we are attempting to explain how the social works.

But is there something anti-social about imagining and organizing our social realities in terms of networks?
Link (via cuuixsilver)

Nonsense On Stilts? A Quaker View of Human Rights 
Mark Frankel examines Quaker perspectives on human rights [Nonsense on Stilts? – A Quaker view of Human Rights edited by Nigel Dower, William Sessions Ltd, 2008, 116pps, £7.50, ISBN: 1850723737].
Quakers are non-doctrinaire Christians with a fine tradition of work for peace and social justice. This collection of eight essays by Quaker activists and academics attempts insights into the nature of human rights and the thinking which informs them. It takes its title from the vivid remark of Jeremy Bentham that natural rights are nonsense and inalienable natural rights are 'nonsense on stilts'. Bentham denied that rights could be deduced from nature, but he would have been quick to agree that basic principles for the protection of the individual could and should be enshrined in law. This collection of essays avoids the abstract question of the naturalness of rights, but takes as read that human have legal rights, and tries to bring a specifically Quaker perspective to the issue.

Between imperial client and useful enemy: Pakistan's permanent crisis 
By Justin Podur.
Pakistani scholar–activist Eqbal Ahmed, who died in 1999, had a canny ability to predict events. In a 1974 article for the Journal of Contemporary Asia, he suggested that Pakistan was headed towards a police state structure because of the class and ideological composition of the military and its supremacy over civil society. Other sectors, such as the bureaucracy, feudal landlords and the small entrepreneurial class, were weak and subordinate. Opposition parties, meanwhile, were 'given more to hyperbole and public meetings than to organizing and resisting. A large part of the opposition is either ideologically reactionary or indistinguishable from the party in power.' A police state would use either a kind of developmental-fascist ideology (as happened in Chile, Brazil and Greece) or it would rely on religious fundamentalism, and would find an eager sponsor in the United States. 'Unfortunately,' the article concludes, 'the democratic and revolutionary groups in Pakistan to whom falls the responsibility of halting this trend are as yet only weakly developed.'

The main elements of Eqbal Ahmed's analysis remain valid today. The military has become even stronger relative to civil society, opposing social forces weaker and divided, with democratic and revolutionary groups only weakly developed. At the epicentre of the War on Terror, Pakistan's current predicament brings together the inability of the state to deliver development or justice to its people, an ambiguous imperial sponsor, all the economic woes of neoliberal capitalism, and the cooptation mechanisms of 'democracy promotion'. Despite an absence of legitimacy, organizational inefficacy, and shrinking capacity to respond to challenges from the USA or India, Pakistan's military dictatorship survives because it is stronger than civil society and political alternatives to it have been destroyed. The strength of the regime is based on the absence of feasible alternatives.

Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love 
Challenging both capitalism and the values of Western civilization, the gay socialist writer Edward Carpenter had an extraordinary impact on the cultural and political landscape of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A mystic advocate of, among other causes, free love, recycling, nudism, women's suffrage and prison reform, Carpenter's work anticipated the sexual revolution of the 1960s and placed him at the epicenter of the literary culture of his day.

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, this major new biography situates Carpenter's life and thought in relation to the social, aesthetic and intellectual movements of his day, and explores his friendships with figures such as Walt Whitman, Robert Graves, Oscar Wilde, E.M. Forster, Isadora Duncan and Emma Goldman. Edward Carpenter paints a compelling portrait of a man described by contemporaries as a "weather-vane" for his times.


How exactly will Obama get all his stuff into the White House? 
After Barack Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20, he and his family will move into the White House. But how exactly will the president-elect get all his belongings into his new home? Will he hire movers?

What Happened To The Promised New Era Of Black Film-Makers? 
You could now literally count on one hand (using two fingers) the number of black directors who can get their projects made and distributed at a steady rate.

The English working class is dead... 
...and its traditions and values have been replaced by sentimentality and the false promises of celebrity and credit cards. It's time the people rediscovered their collective power and sense of pride, argues Scottish novelist Andrew O'Hagan.

Report: Proletarian Errors Are Good Errors 
monochrom content info
They are the elite! They are the crop of crops! They are the (d)awn of the future! They are the beta-testers! And they are doing an excellent job!

Soviet Unterzoegersdorf: Sector II will be at your fingertips soon!


Are all intuitions created equal? Knobe Effect? Huh? 
Well... really? Hmm.
Experimental philosophers have gathered impressive evidence for the surprising conclusion that philosophers’ intuitions are out of step with those of the folk. As a result, many argue that philosophers’ intuitions are unreliable. Focusing on the Knobe Effect, a leading finding of experimental philosophy, we defend traditional philosophy against this conclusion. Our key premise relies on experiments we conducted which indicate that judgments of the folk elicited under higher quality cognitive or epistemic conditions are more likely to resemble those of the philosopher. We end by showing how our experimental findings can help us better understand the Knobe Effect.
Link PDF

Mosquitoes Create Harmonic Love Song 
That pesky buzz of a nearby mosquito is the sound of love, scientists have known for some time. But a new Cornell study reports that males and females flap their wings and change their tune to create a harmonic duet just before mating.
Link (Video)

Who Carries Out Spectacular Acts of Terrorism and Why? 
By Nitasha Kaul.
Spectacular Acts of Terrorism create Events which are designed to shift the public discourse by rupturing processes of dialogue and understanding. A Big Bang such as planes that crash into buildings, or trains that explode, or discotheques that blow up, or a rain of bullets across a city -- brings about a quantum shift in every single aspect of individual perception and public policy -- immediately. This is the deliberate outcome of such Spectacles -- they are planned to disrupt incrementalist and rational development of thought processes at every level of a pluralist functioning state and society. This is why they happen unannounced, this is why they happen simultaneously at multiple locations, and this is why they target places of public prominence.

Who carries out such Spectacular Acts? We hear that the terrorists in Mumbai were young men in jeans with rucksacks who went for carnage with smiles on their faces. It is foolish to assume that the terrorists who go for such Spectacles are desperate people interested in alleviating genuine grievances. Of course, terrorists fight for a cause. But that cause isn't what they kill for; the specificity and legitimacy of their cause (Iraq, Kashmir, Gujarat, Chechya, Afghanistan, whatever they may think it to be) is condensed into the general and universal terms of violence and hatred by those who recruit them and radicalise them. By the time they spray bullets and hold hostages, asking for justice on their own terms, they have long betrayed themselves and become prisoners of manipulated representations.

How do people become violent terrorists?

The 3 Rules of the Internet 
Jonathan Mann rocks again.


Act Fast: The Assassination Spam 
Wow. New one. Some old buddy doesn't want to assassinate me. But he needs to pay his work colleagues.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: ACT FAST.
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2009 05:24:20 -0800
From: mino malo
To: undisclosed-recipients:;




(via Roland Ortner, bagasch mailing list)

Wobblies and Zapatistas 
Interview with the authors of Wobblies and Zapatistas:
The book is about the need for Marxists and anarchists to lay down their ideological weapons and create a single Left resistance to what capitalism is doing to the world. The hostility between the two traditions is a little like a feud between extended families handed down from generation to generation: Hatfields and McCoys in American history, or the families of Romeo and Juliet. In reality Marxism and anarchism should be like two hands, the one analyzing the structure of things, the other throwing up unending prefigurative initiatives. Neither tradition has been so successful that it can speak of the other with lofty dismissal or contempt. We need each other.

From Thermopylae to the Twin towers: The West's selective reading of history 
By Alain Gresh.
Shortly after the first world war, the French literary critic and historian Henri Massis (1886-1970) preached a crusade against the dangers threatening European values and thought – largely identified with those of France, in his mind. He wasn't entirely misguided: across the world, colonised nations were in revolt. He wrote: "The future of western civilisation, of humanity itself, is now under threat... Every traveller, every foreigner who has spent any time in the Far East agrees that the way in which the population thinks has changed more in the last 10 years than it did over 10 centuries. The old, easy-going submissiveness has given way to blind hostility – sometimes genuine hatred, just waiting for the right moment to act. From Calcutta to Shanghai, from the steppes of Mongolia to the plains of Anatolia, the whole of Asia trembles with a blind desire for freedom. These people no longer recognise the supremacy that the West has taken for granted since John Sobieski conclusively stemmed the Turkish and Tartar invasions beneath the walls of Vienna. Instead they aspire to rebuild their unity against the white man, whose overthrow they proclaim".

These fears are resurfacing today in a very different context, also marked by a series of cataclysmic events: the end of the cold war, 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and above all the restructuring of the global order in favour of new powers, such as China and India. Various authors, many of them highly regarded, have picked up on the Manichean view of history as an eternal confrontation between civilisation and barbarism as they excavate the roots of what Anthony Pagden calls the "2,500-year struggle" now bathing the world in blood.

Husband Wants Kidney Back 
Many divorces turn acrimonious, but a New York divorce has turned potentially life-threatening. But a new litmus test has emerged for real acrimony: has your soon-to-be ex asked for a donated organ back? Only then do you know you are in a truly deadly divorce!

According to Newsday, a New York surgeon, Richard Batista, is asking his wife, Dawnell Batista, for the kidney he gave her in 2001 back, or if she can't live without it (ha ha)--for $1.5 million in exchange for his regret over the gift.

Ten extinct beasts that could walk the Earth again 
The recipe for making any creature is written in its DNA. So last November, when geneticists published the near-complete DNA sequence of the long-extinct woolly mammoth, there was much speculation about whether we could bring this behemoth back to life.

Creating a living, breathing creature from a genome sequence that exists only in a computer's memory is not possible right now. But someone someday is sure to try it, predicts Stephan Schuster, a molecular biologist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and a driving force behind the mammoth genome project.

So besides the mammoth, what other extinct beasts might we coax back to life? Well [...]

Who Checks the Spell-Checkers? 
Microsoft Word's dictionary is old and outdated. Here's how to fix it.

A Bad Economy - Good For Literature? 
In the economic downturn of the 1980s, literary fiction flourished in the UK. So will we see a repeat this time around?


Who on earth would make a plush Crucifix?

Biofuel Development Shifting From Soil To Sea, Specifically To Marine Algae 
Today, the most fervent attention in biofuel development has shifted from soil to the sea, and specifically to marine algae. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, along with researchers at UCSD’s Division of Biological Sciences, are part of an emerging algal biofuel consortium that includes academic collaborators, CleanTECH San Diego, regional industry representatives, and public and private partners.
Scripps scientists see algae as a “green bullet,” science and society's best hope for a clean bioenergy source that will help loosen broad dependence on fossil fuel, counteract climate warming, and power the vehicles of the future.

Beyond Bailouts: On the Politics of Education After Neoliberalism 
As the financial meltdown reaches historic proportions, free-market fundamentalism, or neoliberalism as it is called in some quarters, is losing both its claim to legitimacy and its claims on democracy. Once upon a time a perceived bastion of liberal democracy, the social state is being recalled from exile, as the decades-long conservative campaign against the alleged abuses of "big government" - its euphemism for a form of governance that assumed a measure of responsibility for the education, health and general welfare of its citizens - has been widely discredited. Not only have the starving and drowning efforts of the Right been revealed in all their malicious cruelty, but government is about to have a Cinderella moment; it is about to become "cool," as Prince Charming-elect Barack Obama famously put it. The idea has enchanted many. The economist and recent Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman, has argued that the correct response to the current credit and financial crisis is to "greatly expand the role of government to rescue an ailing economy," with the proviso that all new government programs must be devoid of even a hint of corruption. Bob Herbert has called for more government regulation to offset the dark cloud of impoverishment that resulted from the last thirty years of deregulation, privatization and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. And there are others, sophisticated thinkers all, such as Dean Baker, David Korten, Naomi Klein and Joseph E. Stiglitz, who have traced the roots of the current financial crisis to the adaptation of neoliberal economic policy, which fostered a grim alignment among the state, corporate capital and transnational corporations. Even New York Times op-ed writer Thomas Friedman has found a way to live comfortably with the idea. He wants to retool the country's educational mainframe, teaching young people to be more creative in their efforts to build "the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure," - even as the stated goal unhappily recapitulates the neoliberal fantasy that unchecked growth cures all social ills. And a contrite Alan Greenspan, erstwhile disciple of Ayn Rand, recently admitted before a Congressional committee that he may have made a mistake in assuming "that enlightened self-interest alone would prevent bankers, mortgage brokers, investment bankers and others from gaming the system for their own personal financial benefit."

Twilight of the color photo 
Like the shepherds, the color print has nearly vanished. Today, you get some glossies sent out as holiday cards, and some lucky ones get matted and framed, but the vast majority of color photographs now taken - and there are countless millions of them - pass before us, just briefly, on a screen.

Marina Abramovic: How we in the Balkans kill rats 
From "The Star" movie (1999). This video was a piece of the "Balkan Baroque" installation (Venice Biennale 1997). Marina Abramovic was awared the Gold Lion Award for the installation.


Charm school 
Scholars unpack the secrets of charisma, and suggest the elusive quality can be taught.

Soviet Unterzoegersdorf: A Nation In Transit (Video) 
monochrom content info
Finally -- a recording of "Soviet Unterzoegersdorf: A Nation In Transit" is available for download. Enjoy our slightly glorious gala, presented at 25c3 in Berlin (December 28, 2008).

Video link / mp4
Video link / m4v (iPod compatible)

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monochrom is an art-technology-philosophy group having its seat in Vienna and Zeta Draconis. monochrom is an unpeculiar mixture of proto-aesthetic fringe work, pop attitude, subcultural science, context hacking and political activism. Our mission is conducted everywhere, but first and foremost in culture-archeological digs into the seats (and pockets) of ideology and entertainment. monochrom has existed in this (and almost every other) form since 1993.

Booking monochrom:

External monochrom links:
[monochrom Wikipedia]
[monochrom Flickr]
[monochrom blip.tv]
[monochrom GV]
[monochrom Youtube]
[monochrom Facebook]
[monochrom iTunes]
[monochrom Twitter]

Soviet Unterzoegersdorf / Sector 2 / The Adventure Game

Climate Training Camp

Krach der Roboter: Hello World!

Slacking is killing the DIY industry (T-Shirt)

Carefully Selected Moments / CD, LP

Freedom is a whore of a word (T-Shirt)


International Year of Polytheism 2007

Santa Claus Vs. Christkindl: A Mobster Battle

Could It Be (Video clip)

Pot Tin God

Hacking the Spaces

Kiki and Bubu and The Shift / Short film

Kiki and Bubu and The Privilege / Short film

Kiki and Bubu and The Self / Short film

Kiki and Bubu and The Good Plan / Short film

Kiki and Bubu and The Feelings / Short film / Short film

Sculpture Mobs

Nazi Petting Zoo / Short film

The Great Firewall of China

KPMG / Short film

The BRAICIN / Short film

Soviet Unterzoegersdorf / Sector 1 / The Adventure Game

I was a copyright infringement in a previous life (T-Shirt)

Brave New Pong

Leben ist LARPen e.V.

One Minute / Short film

Firing Squad Euro2008 Intervention


A tribute to Honzo

Lessig ist lässig

I can count every star in the heavens above -- The image of computers in popular music

All Tomorrow's Condensations / Puppet show

Bye Bye / Short film


PC/DC patch

Proto-Melodic Comment Squad


The Redro Loitzl Story / Short film

Hax0rcise SCO

Law and Second Order (T-Shirt)

They really kicked you out of the Situationist International?

Death Special: Falco

Applicant Fisch / Short film

When I was asked to write about new economy

Taugshow #6

Taugshow #7

Taugshow #9

Taugshow #10

Taugshow #11

Taugshow #14

Taugshow #15

Campfire at Will

Arse Elektronika 2007, 2008, 2009 etc.

The Void's Foaming Ebb / Short film

Remoting Future

When you / Short film


Free Bariumnitrate

Toyps / Typing Errors

ARAD-II Miami Beach Crisis

The Charcoal Burner / Short film

Digital Culture In Brazil


Nation of Zombia

Lonely Planet Guide action

CSI Oven Cloth

Dept. of Applied Office Arts

Farewell to Overhead

Google Buttplug

Fieldrecording in Sankt Wechselberg / Short film

Dark Dune Spots

Campaign For The Abolition Of Personal Pronouns


Space Tourism

In the Head of the Gardener

Entertainment (Unterhaltung) / Short film

Cthulhu Goatse

Nicholas Negroponte Memorial Cable

Coke Light Art Edition 06

Experience the Experience! (West Coast USA/Canada Tour 2005)

April 23

Overhead Cumshot

Irark / Short film


Instant Blitz Copy Fight

A Patriotic Fireman

A Micro Graphic Novel Project

Noise and Talk

The Exhilarator


SUZOeG Training / Short film

The Flower Currency


A Holiday in Soviet Unterzoegersdorf

How does the Internet work?

Paraflows 2006 and up

Special Forces

Coca Cola

About Work

Turing Train Terminal

Me / Short Film

Massive Multiplayer Thumb-Wrestling Network


Some Code To Die For

The Year Wrap-up

Soviet Unterzoegersdorf Metroblogging

Project Mendel

Display, Retry, Fail

Manifesto of Ignorantism


Towers of Hanoi



Every Five Seconds an Inkjet Printer Dies Somewhere




We know apocalypses

452 x 157 cm² global durability

A Good Haul

Blattoptera / Art for Cockroaches

Minus 24x

Gladiator / Short Film


An attempt to emulate an attempt

Paschal Duct-Taping

Laptop Crochetication


Somewhere in the 1930s

Soul Sale

The Department for Criticism against Globalisation

Dot Smoke

Georg Paul Thomann

Nurgel Staring

War On

Let's network it out


Mackerel Fiddlers


Disney vs. Chrusov / Short film

Bulk Mail

Easter Celebrations

Mouse Over Matter

Condolence for a Crab

Force Sting

Turning Threshold Countries Into Plows


A Noise

A. C. A.

Hopping Overland

Achy Breaky Heart Campaign

Hermeneutic Imperative III

Holy Water / Franchise

Roböxotica // Festival for Cocktail-Robotics


Engine Hood Cookies


The Watch

Creative Industry 2003

This World

Cracked Foundation For The Fine Arts

Sometimes I feel

Fit with INRI

Growing Money

Catapulting Wireless Devices

Buried Alive

Illegal Space Race

Magnetism Party

Brick of Coke

1 Baud

Scrota Contra Vota

Direct Intervention Engine

Oh my God, they use a history which repeats itself! (T-Shirt)


Dorkbot Vienna