[ B l o g / / Archive]

Wanted: Interrogation that works and isn't torture 
In a fight against terrorism, information is everything.

The White House attempted to draw a line under the dubious intelligence-gathering practices of the Bush administration last week by announcing the creation of a special interrogation group that will use "scientifically proven means" to extract information from detainees with links to violent extremist groups.

It also indicated it would start a research programme to compare the effectiveness of different methods. But to what extent can science help determine what constitutes an adequate interrogation technique?

Actor, Director Tim Robbins Takes Up Historic Vietnam War Protest in Production of "The Trial of the Catonsville Nine" 
We end today's show with the Academy Award-winning actor, director and writer Tim Robbins. Tim is involved in a new production of Father Daniel Berrigan's acclaimed play The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.

The play centers on the events of May 17th, 1968, when nine Catholic peace activists, including Father Daniel Berrigan and his brother, the late Father Philip Berrigan, entered a draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, and removed draft files of young men who were about to be sent to Vietnam. They took those files outside and burned them with homemade napalm. They were arrested and, in a highly publicize trial that galvanized the antiwar movement, sentenced to prison.
At his trial, Father Daniel Berrigan said, quote, "Our apologies good friends for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children."

Britain and the Second World War: A long story 
Cran admits that the wartime mentality lingered in other strange ways. "I used to say, 'I'm not going to go on holiday to Germany.' Italy and France, yes, but Germany, no. My big thing was not buying a German car. When I finally bought an Audi a few years ago, I had to think about it very hard." He laughs in mild self-amazement. "So you could say my war ended in 2002."

That Picasso Recovered In Iraq? A Fake With Spelling Mistakes 
Officers had said that the painting was stolen during Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but a source at the museum in the emirate said they had never housed such a work. "The National Museum had no Picasso paintings before the Iraqi invasion," the official said on condition of anonymity. A tag on the back of the painting, one riddled with misspellings, names the work "The nakede" (sic) and says it was "sold by the louvre to the musum" (sic) of Kuwait 1979, with the words Louvre and Kuwait in lower case.

monochrom's Toyps: new entries 
monochrom content info
Toyps is a collection of aesthetically beautiful typing errors of the so-called >English< language. An unpretenitous listong. And we got new submissions! Such beautiful and involuntary creations as "pedogogical", "intercurse", "cuntry" or "twennis"...

We need your errors!

Media Multitaskers: Fail! 
People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time, a group of Stanford researchers has found.

High-tech jugglers are everywhere – keeping up several e-mail and instant message conversations at once, text messaging while watching television and jumping from one website to another while plowing through homework assignments.

But after putting about 100 students through a series of three tests, the researchers realized those heavy media multitaskers are paying a big mental price.

"They're suckers for irrelevancy," said communication Professor Clifford Nass, one of the researchers whose findings are published in the Aug. 24 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Everything distracts them."

Social scientists have long assumed that it's impossible to process more than one string of information at a time. The brain just can't do it. But many researchers have guessed that people who appear to multitask must have superb control over what they think about and what they pay attention to.

We Are As Gods And Have To Get Good At It: Stewart Brand Talks About His Ecopragmatist Manifesto 
The shift that has happened in 40 years which mainly has to do with climate change. Forty years ago, I could say in the Whole Earth Catalog, "we are as gods, we might as well get good at it". Photographs of earth from space had that god-like perspective.

What I'm saying now is we are as gods and have to get good at it. Necessity comes from climate change, potentially disastrous for civilization. The planet will be okay, life will be okay. We will lose vast quantities of species, probably lose the rain forests if the climate keeps heating up. So it's a global issue, a global phenomenon. It doesn't happen in just one area. The planetary perspective now is not just aesthetic. It's not just perspective. It's actually a world-sized problem that will take world sized solutions that involves forms of governance we don't have yet. It involves technologies we are just glimpsing. It involves what ecologists call ecosystem engineering. Beavers do it, earthworms do it. They don't usually do it at a planetary scale. We have to do it at a planetary scale. A lot of sentiments and aesthetics of the environmental movement stand in the way of that.

Computing climate change: How much carbon dioxide do computers emit? 
Aviation has long been blamed for its share of anthropogenic global warming. Indeed, some travellers now ask themselves whether their flight is strictly necessary and, if they decide it is, salve their consciences by paying for the planting of trees. These, so they hope, will absorb the equivalent of their sinful emissions. But you, dear reader, are indulging right now in activity that is equally as polluting as air travel: using a computer.

According to a report published by the Climate Group, a think-tank based in London, computers, printers, mobile phones and the widgets that accompany them account for the emission of 830m tonnes of carbon dioxide around the world in 2007. That is about 2% of the estimated total of emissions from human activity. And that is the same as the aviation industry's contribution. According to the report, about a quarter of the emissions in question are generated by the manufacture of computers and so forth. The rest come from their use.

Do Androids Sleep with Electric Sheep? Arse Elektronika Anthology 
monochrom content info
Our new Arse Elektronika Anthology will be released in October/November 2009: "Do Androids Sleep with Electric Sheep? Critical Perspectives on Sexuality and Pornography in Science and Social Fiction"...

Pre-order via RE/Search.

Taking up where the successful first part of our series left off, this anthology stands under the motto "future" -- and the ways in which the present sees itself reflected in it. Maintaining a broadened perspective on technical development and technology while also putting special emphasis on its social implementation, this year's conference focuses on Science and Social Fiction.

The genre of the "fantastic" is especially well suited to the investigation of the touchy area of sexuality and pornography: actual and assumed developments are frequently depicted positively and approvingly, but just as often with dystopian admonishment. Here the classic, and continuingly valid, themes of modernism represent a clear link between the two aspects: questions of science, research and technologization are of interest, as is the complex surrounding urbanism, artificiality and control (or the loss of control). Depictions of the future, irregardless of the form they take, always address the present as well. Imaginations of the fantastic and the nightmarish give rise to a thematic overlapping of the exotic, the alienating and, of course, the pornographic/sexual as well.

Edited by Johannes Grenzfurthner, Günther Friesinger, Daniel Fabry, Thomas Ballhausen.

Featuring essays and stories by Rudy Rucker, Richard Kadrey, James Tiptree, Jr., Allen Stein, Sharing is Sexy, Jason Brown, Cory Doctorow, Annalee Newitz, Tina Lorenz, Reesa Brown, Karin Harrasser, Isaac Leung, Rose White, Mela Mikes, Viviane, Susan Mernit, Chris Noessel, Kit O'Connell, Jens Ohlig, Bonni Rambatan, Thomas Roche, Bonnie Ruberg, Mae Saslaw, Violet Blue, Nathan Shedroff, 23N!, Benjamin Cowden, Johannes Grenzfurthner, Daniel Fabry...

Publisher: RE/Search, San Francisco.

Unbelieveable! Artist Management According To Flo & Eddie 

Steely-Eyed Hydronauts of the Mariana 
On 21 December 1872, the British naval corvette HMS Challenger sailed from Portsmouth, England on an historic endeavor. Although the sophisticated steam-assisted sailing vessel had been originally constructed as a combat ship, her instruments of war had been recently removed to make room for laboratories, dredging equipment, and measuring apparatuses. She and her crew of 243 sailors and scientists set out on a long, meandering circumnavigation of the globe with orders to catalog the ocean's depth, temperature, salinity, currents, and biology at hundreds of sites–an oceanographic effort far more ambitious than any undertaken before it.

For three and a half long, dreary years the crew spent day after day dredging, measuring, and probing the oceans. Although the data they collected was scientifically indispensable, men were driven to madness by the tedium, and some sixty souls ultimately opted to jump ship rather than take yet another depth measurement or temperature reading. One day in 1875, however, as the crew were "sounding" an area near the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific, the sea swallowed an astonishing 4,575 fathoms (about five miles) of measuring line before the sounding weight reached the floor of the ocean. The bedraggled researchers had discovered an undersea valley which would come to be known as the Challenger Deep. Reaching 6.78 miles at its lowest point, it is now known to be the deepest location on the whole of the Earth. The region is of such immense depth that if Mount Everest were to be set on the sea floor at that location, the mighty mountain's peak would still be under more than a mile of water.


Rajeshree Sisodia on why Burma is a failed state 
George Miller talks to journalist Rajeshree Sisodia about her article "Mae Sot's unsung heroes" in the July issue of Le Monde diplomatique. They discuss the Orwellian climate of fear which prevails in the country and life in the refugee camps across the border in Thailand, home to thousands of Burmese who have fled their country. And they talk about what it will take to bring about change.
Link (Podcast)

Ministry of Defeat. The British War in Iraq 2003-2009 
After co-authoring four books with the Sunday Telegraph's Christopher Booker, Dr Richard North - the defence analyst behind the Defence of the Realm blog - has written a blow-by-blow account of Britain's disastrous occupation of southern Iraq, from the April 2003 invasion to the withdrawal of all combat troops earlier this year.

As "the central symbol of the British Army's tragic and culpable ill-preparedness and lack of flexibility in dealing with the Iraq insurgency", North returns again and again to the controversial role played by the Snatch Land Rover in what Booker, writing in the foreword, argues was "one of the most humiliating chapters in the history of the British Army".

The New-Media Crisis of 1949 
The digital apocalypse continues to blight the lives of television producers, music-industry executives and newspaper publishers, all of whom are scrambling to figure out how to reconfigure their business models in such a way as to allow them to make an honest buck. They're trying to second-guess the ­future—so why not look back at the past? Today's new-media revolution, after all, is not the first time that technological change has laid waste to the best-laid plans of the old media. The same thing was happening 60 years ago.

Everybody in America was talking about TV early in 1949, though comparatively few Americans owned a set of their own. Network radio was still the dominant mass entertainment ­medium. If you wanted to listen to Bing Crosby or "The Quiz Kids," you tuned in to their radio programs. While there were roughly 85 million radios in use throughout America, there were 1.3 million TV sets, 750,000 of which were on the East Coast. Television was still a pricey toy. A console set with a 16-inch picture tube cost $695 in 1949—half the price of a new car. Every TV station in the country was operating in the red, and NBC ran its fledgling TV network at a loss of $13,000 a day, $116,000 in ­today's dollars.

But on Jan. 11 of that year, television in America turned a technological corner when eight stations on the East Coast and seven Midwestern stations were linked via the first long-distance coaxial cable. All at once it was possible for a significant slice of the American public to watch network TV programs live. Within a matter of weeks, Milton Berle's "Texaco Star Theater," previously known only to those who lived within range of one of NBC's nine East Coast affiliates, was being viewed in 24 cities by an audience of almost 4.5 million. In May, Time magazine put Berle on its cover: "As the clock nears 8 along the Eastern Seaboard on Tuesday night, a strange new phenomenon takes place in U.S. urban life. Business falls off in many a nightclub, theater-ticket sales are light, neighborhood movie audiences thin. Some late-hour shopkeepers post signs and close up for the night. ... On big-city bar rails along the coast and in the Midwest, there is hardly room for another foot."

Unhappy Together: The Wittgenstein Family Feud 
They were raised in a vast marble palace in Vienna, with liveried servants, seven grand pianos, a Rodin sculpture, and frescoes depicting scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Their father, a self-made millionaire and one of the leading industrialists of the Habsburg Empire, was also a deeply cultured man, an art collector who provided the funding for the Secession Building at which the "advanced" artists of the period -- Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka -- exhibited their work (Klimt referred to him as his "Minister of Fine Art"). But it was music that was Karl Wittgenstein's great passion, and that of his wife: Brahms, Mahler, Schoenberg, and Richard Strauss all attended the musical evenings in the palace's opulent Musiksaal, and the elder Wittgensteins spent many hours playing music with each other and their eight children. The conductor Bruno Walter, another attendee at those private concerts, described the "all-pervading atmosphere of humanity and culture" that prevailed in the household.

Yet if the Wittgensteins were among the most cultivated and privileged of families, they were far from the most cheerful. Hermine, the oldest child, never married and became increasingly depressed and reclusive as she grew older; Gretl, the most intelligent, most adventurous daughter -- immortalized in a painting by Klimt that now hangs in the Neue Pinakothek in Munich -- entered into a disastrous marriage with an impoverished American who turned out to be a paranoid hysteric, is rumored to have consulted Freud about her frigidity, and spent most of her life searching restlessly for a cause or project to devote her energies to. Nor were the sons any happier.

Close Encounters of the Facial Kind: Are UFO Alien Faces an Inborn Facial Recognition Template? 
In vol. 11 issue 4 of Skeptic magazine, Frederick V. Malmstrom presents his hypothesis that Greys are actually residual memories of early childhood development. Malmstrom reconstructs the face of a Grey through transformation of a mother's face based on our best understanding of early childhood sensation and perception. Malmstrom's study is particularly useful in explaining away the existence of Greys, the intense instinctive response many people experience when presented an image of a Grey, and the ease of regression hypnosis and recovered memory therapy in "recovering" memories of alien abduction experiences, along with their common themes.


The Origin of Zero 
The number zero as we know it arrived in the West circa 1200, most famously delivered by Italian mathematician Fibonacci (aka Leonardo of Pisa), who brought it, along with the rest of the Arabic numerals, back from his travels to north Africa. But the history of zero, both as a concept and a number, stretches far deeper into history—so deep, in fact, that its provenance is difficult to nail down.

"There are at least two discoveries, or inventions, of zero," says Charles Seife, author of Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (Viking, 2000). "The one that we got the zero from came from the Fertile Crescent." It first came to be between 400 and 300 B.C. in Babylon, Seife says, before developing in India, wending its way through northern Africa and, in Fibonacci's hands, crossing into Europe via Italy.

Initially, zero functioned as a mere placeholder—a way to tell 1 from 10 from 100, to give an example using Arabic numerals. "That's not a full zero," Seife says. "A full zero is a number on its own; it's the average of –1 and 1."

Ira Glass discloses the mysteries of good storytelling 
Why Watch "House"? And how is The Arabian Nights like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 3?

We Are the Martians: Why we've never lost our enthusiasm for space travel 
It was exactly 10 years ago, 1999, that the heat of a rocket ship on its way to Mars turned the dark Ohio winter into summer. The First Expedition landed men on Mars but it would be three expeditions later before the men of Earth would fully inhabit the red planet and make it their own. Eventually, they would come with their families, build homes and cities on the dead Martian sands, and create new histories that would replace their own and those of the Martian lives they destroyed.

Or so Ray Bradbury imagined it when he was writing The Martian Chronicles a half-century ago in 1949 (it was published in 1950). Just a few years before, World War II created a lasting, worldwide fear of nuclear apocalypse. While wars of the past had ended one empire or another, Hiroshima and Nagasaki made us believe in the destruction of human civilization itself. Where could we escape? By 1949, most of our own planet had been mapped, and the dreams of explorers past fulfilled. So, the people of Earth directed their hopes skyward. Outer space took on the Utopian qualities once embodied by the Artic and the deep seas. Space travel was hope. Science fiction its manual.

Inside the DSM: The Drug Barons' Campaign to Make Us All Crazy 
Some years ago, a friend told me that he had been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and that his psychiatrist had given him a prescription for Forest Laboratories' popular SSRI antidepressant Celexa (chemical name, citalopram hydrobromide; $1.5 billion in sales in 2003). Knowing him to be a vociferous critic of the pharmaceutical companies, I asked whether he agreed that the origins of his unhappiness were biological in nature. He replied that he unequivocally did not. "But," he confided, "now I might be able to get my grades back up."

This guy was, at the time, a full-time undergraduate student who managed rent, groceries and tuition only by working two part-time jobs. He awoke before dawn each morning in order to transcribe interviews for a local graduate student, then embarked upon an hour-long commute to campus, attended classes until late afternoon, and then finally headed over to a nearby café to wash dishes until nine o'clock in the evening. By the time he arrived home each night, he was too exhausted to work on the sundry assignments, essays and lab reports that populated his course syllabi. As the school year dragged on, he had become increasingly disheartened about his slipping grades and mounting fatigue and decided, finally, that something had to be done. So he'd seen the psychiatrist and was now on Celexa.

"Off The Hook"/Toorcamp Special with J. Scott, Johannes G., Eddie C. 
monochrom content info
"Off the Hook" is a hacker-oriented weekly talk radio program hosted by Emmanuel Goldstein. Emmanuel recorded a nice little lunchtime chitchat with Jason Scott, Eddie Codel, Johannes Grenzfurthner (monochrom) at Toorcamp 2009. Check it out.
Link, Episode 2009/08/04 (mp3)

What Your Choice of Words Says about Your Personality 
A language analysis program reveals personality, mental health and intent by counting and categorizing words.

It's....! Monty Python Reunion Set For This Fall 
"The Pythons will meet again to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the creation of the troupe on Oct. 15 at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. While the event will feature no cows being flung by catapult ... the reunion will involve the complete troupe" - including, we are told, the late Graham Chapman. The gathering is to launch the new documentary Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut).

There's more to Calvin than dourness and asceticism? 
This year is the five-hundredth anniversary of John Calvin's birth, but while the occasion is being marked by his followers, in the wider world the Protestant reformer is remembered with little affection. 'Calvinism' is regarded as a harsh and humourless creed, whose founder lacks even the glamour of his German counterpart Martin Luther. While the French thinker influenced Protestant churches internationally, in Britain he is mostly associated with the strict Presbyterianism once prevalent in dreich old Scotland.

It is true that the Calvin-infused, Hellfire-preaching Kirk was a stifling influence on Scottish culture for centuries, and there are still parts of the Western Isles where the McTaliban holds sway; though the pious inhabitants of the island of Lewis have recently been shaken, first by Sunday ferry sailings, and then by the inevitable consequence: same-sex civil partnership! But the name Calvin is rarely heard in modern Scotland outside the phrase 'the dead hand of Calvin', his legacy seen as a grim one best left in the past.

Intriguingly, though, the most enduring critique of Calvinism to be found in Scottish culture targets not its social conservatism, but rather the self-righteous individualism that can arise from its peculiar doctrine of the 'elect', the idea that the destiny of our souls is predetermined by God. James Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) concerns a young man who is led astray by a devilish doppelganger who convinces him that, since he is surely one of the elect and thus guaranteed a place in Heaven, he can sin on Earth with impunity. Taken alongside Robert Burns' satirical poem 'Holy Willie's Prayer' (1785), this shows Scotland was the first country to make a morality tale of excessive religiosity, and by implication a pious duty of self-doubt. No wonder we drink.

13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Intriguing Scientific Mysteries of Our Time 
Good piece of popular science.

Will we ever find the ninety-six percent of the universe that is missing? Will tomorrow bring an answer to the scientific mysteries of today? While taking readers on an entertaining tour d'horizon of today's strangest scientific findings, Michael Brooks argues that the things we don't understand are the key to what we are about to discover.In 2008, science can only really account for four percent of our universe, and the rest, well, just seems to be missing. The effects of homeopathy don't go away under rigorous scientific conditions. Thirty years on, no one has an explanation for a seemingly intelligent signal received from outer space. The speed of light seems to have changed over the lifetime of the universe. The US Department of Energy is re-examining cold fusion (a nuclear reaction in which atoms release more energy than they consume) because the evidence is too solid to ignore. The placebo effect is put to work in medicine while doctors can't agree on whether it even exists...In an age when science is supposed to be king, scientists are beset by experimental results they simply cannot explain. But, if the past is anything to go by, these anomalies contain the seeds of future scientific revolutions.This mind-boggling but entirely accessible survey of the outer-limits of human knowledge is based on a short article Michael Brooks wrote for the "New Scientist" in 2005. It became the most circulated "New Scientist" feature ever. He has now dug deeply into these mysteries, and the results of his investigations point to an exciting future for scientific discovery.

Internet 'immune system' could block viruses 
It is 0530 UTC, 25 January 2003. A computer worm named Slammer has just unleashed one of the most devastating attacks on the internet ever. Within minutes, it infects nearly 90 per cent of vulnerable computers. Major net links break down, ATM machines fail and airlines have to cancel flights.

What was impressive about Slammer was the overwhelming speed of infection. There was no chance to intervene. Six years on, our defences are little better.

Scott Coull of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Boleslaw Szymanski of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, want to change that. They have devised a system to combat highly virulent, malicious worms by embedding defence mechanisms in key parts of the internet - akin to endowing it with an immune system.

To understand the limitations of the current strategies, imagine there's an outbreak of a biological virus. The major airports in the world decide not to let people disembark from planes flying in from an infected region but instead let the aircraft take off for other parts of the world.

Why Yale Press Shouldn't Self-Censor Mohammed Images 
Why did Yale University Press remove images of Mohammed from a book about the Danish cartoons?
The Cartoons That Shook the World by Jytte Klausen.The capitulation of Yale University Press to threats that hadn't even been made yet is the latest and perhaps the worst episode in the steady surrender to religious extremism—particularly Muslim religious extremism—that is spreading across our culture. A book called The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Danish-born Jytte Klausen, who is a professor of politics at Brandeis University, tells the story of the lurid and preplanned campaign of "protest" and boycott that was orchestrated in late 2005 after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran a competition for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. (The competition was itself a response to the sudden refusal of a Danish publisher to release a book for children about the life of Mohammed, lest it, too, give offense.) By the time the hysteria had been called off by those who incited it, perhaps as many as 200 people around the world had been pointlessly killed.

Yale University Press announced last week that it would go ahead with the publication of the book, but it would remove from it the 12 caricatures that originated the controversy. Not content with this, it is also removing other historic illustrations of the likeness of the Prophet, including one by Gustave Doré of the passage in Dante's Inferno that shows Mohammed being disemboweled in hell. (These same Dantean stanzas have also been depicted by William Blake, Sandro Botticelli, Salvador Dalí, and Auguste Rodin, so there's a lot of artistic censorship in our future if this sort of thing is allowed to set a precedent.)

How a Basic Income Program Saved a Namibian Village 
It sounds like a communist utopia, but a basic income program pioneered by German aid workers has helped alleviate poverty in a Nambian village. Crime is down and children can finally attend school. Only the local white farmers are unhappy.

What do flocks of birds have in common with trust, monogamy, and even breast milk? 
According to a new report in the journal Science, they are regulated by virtually identical neurochemicals in the brain, known as oxytocin in mammals and mesotocin in birds.

Neurobiologists at Indiana University showed that if the actions of mesotocin are blocked in the brains of zebra finches, a highly social songbird, the birds shift their social preferences. They spend significantly less time with familiar individuals and more time with unfamiliar individuals. The birds also become less social, preferring to spend less time with a large group of same-sex birds and more time with a smaller group. Conversely, if birds are administered mesotocin instead of the blocker, the finches become more social and prefer familiar partners.

Perhaps most striking is the fact that none of the treatments affect males -- only females.

Monsanto's Man in the Obama Administration? 
Michael R. Taylor's appointment by the Obama administration to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 7th sparked immediate debate and even outrage among many food and agriculture researchers, NGOs and activists. The Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto Corp. from 1998 until 2001, Taylor exemplifies the revolving door between the food industry and the government agencies that regulate it. He is reviled for shaping and implementing the government's favorable agricultural biotechnology policies during the Clinton administration.

Yet what has slipped under everyone's radar screen is Taylor's involvement in setting U.S. policy on agricultural assistance in Africa. In collusion with the Rockefeller and Bill and Melinda Gates foundations, Taylor is once again the go-between man for Monsanto and the U.S. government, this time with the goal to open up African markets for genetically-modified (GM) seed and agrochemicals.

China's wild west: Ethnic conflict erupts in Beijing's 'new frontier' 
With July's violence in Urumqi following last year's riots in Tibet, is China under threat in its frontier provinces? Xinjiang's minorities, the Muslim Uyghurs in particular, face discrimination. Though their dislocation is more social and cultural than religious, without real autonomy Islamic fundamentalism is set to grow.

Soviet Unterzoegersdorf Embassy @ HAR2009: Erected! 
monochrom content info
A great success of solidarity! Soviet Unterzoegersdorf's embassy at HAR2009 is finished. The confederation is proud and wants to thank its international supporters!

Link (Flickr)

monochrom @ Hacking at Random 2009 
monochrom content info
International technology & security conference. Four days of technology, ideological debates and hands-on tinkering. And we will not deny any rumors about a Soviet Unterzoegersdorf military intervention.
August 13-16, 2009; Vierhouten, NL.

Great new "Zeigerpointer" entries! Point! Zeig! Point! 
monochrom content info
Great new Zeigerpointers have been added to our collection!
But what's a Zeigerpointer?
The Zeigerpointer (a German-English word-mix tautology that we feel free to give birth to) is the most penurious form of capitulation in the print media. Various people, predominantly in local newspapers or magazines of regional interest, are forced by photographers armed with Zeiss-lenses to indicate occurrences. These people have to point at things. With their bare hands! They have to present occurrences that withdraw themselves through their absence, through optical expiration or simply the course of time. Like car wrecks that have already been recovered, asylum seekers that have fled, or burnt down buildings that were entirely consumed by the fire. Occurrences that elude the media machinery because of visual boredom or a state of simply-not-there-anymore. Well, then let's give our readers a Zeigerpointer! The Zeigerpointer shall zeigerpoint it out!

("This is the place where father Ruslan cooled Nazir's wounds.")


monochrom multi-yearbook: layouts wanted! 
monochrom content info
Today we officially entered the layout phase for our yearbook monochrom #26-34. We got tons of extraordinary essays, reports, short stories and reviews from people all around the globe. And now we want to find interesting and inspiring ways to present this tremendous chunk of text matter.

Would you be interested in helping us with laying out all the stuff? It really doesn't matter if you are into punk cut-up or high-end style, experimental freakdom or ASCII-on-bubblejet.

Don't hesitate to contact us!


Reimagining A Global Law 
International law in a new society wouldn't exist. Allow me to explain. Let's say the goal of reimagining society is to create something that is more participatory: self managed in line with the values of parecon and parpolity. The hyperlinked writings are worth reading in their entirety to get all the details, but the basic idea is that society's basic political units are primary "nested" councils of people who make the laws; these councils are small enough that everyone can deliberate decisions (think about 40 people or so). These councils federate with each other by sending delegates to higher level councils and society is built from the bottom up. Nothing like a national centralized government exists; decisions are only made on a large scale to the extent that there is a common interest justifying taking authority away from the primary councils. Laws are made only to govern the number of people affected, irrespective of countries or national boundaries. If you don't have nations then you can't have "international" anything, including international law.

Really the question for a new society is one of global law: what would law look like at the largest level of the federation of participatory communities.

Miniature gravity detector could peer inside planets 
Peering beneath the surface of Mars and other planets to reveal buried geological features could get easier, thanks to a nifty new silicon gadget.

The device, called a gravity gradiometer, has been designed to measure how much the force of gravity changes from place to place, enabling it to map a planet's gravitational field.

The idea is simple. Take two masses, each hanging from a spring. If one mass is slightly closer to a planet's surface, it will feel stronger gravity and pull more on its spring than the other mass. Compare the pulls on the two springs, and you can work out the gravity gradient over that part of the planet. A gravity gradiometer aboard the European Space Agency's GOCE satellite is currently probing Earth's gravity field, but it has a mass of hundreds of kilograms. Being so heavy, it would be prohibitively expensive to send such a device on a deep-space mission.

Tough times in the porn industry 
The adult entertainment business, centered in the San Fernando Valley, has weathered several recessions since it took off with the advent of home video in the 1980s. But this time the industry is not dealing with just a weakened economy. A growing abundance of free content on the Internet is undercutting consumers' willingness to pay for porn, and with it the ability of many workers to earn a living in the business.

For Stern, 23, the rapid decline of job opportunities in the porn business over the last year has been dramatic. She has gone from working four or five days a week to one and now has employers pressuring her to do male-female sex scenes for $700, a 30% discount from the $1,000 fee that used to be the industry standard.

Is the egg is the ultimate currency of Darwinian success? 
It is particularly ironic that the critics have hurled all the conventional accusations at Miller, since his version of evolutionary psychology is so different from that of Steven Pinker and other key thinkers in the field. His theory, eloquently advanced in The Mating Mind (2000), that the evolution of human intelligence was shaped more by sexual selection than by natural selection, sets him apart from the mainstream. In this book Miller advances an equally original thesis - that our purchases are driven by the desire to display personality traits that have been shaped by our evolutionary history. When viewed through this lens, puzzling aspects of consumer behaviour suddenly make sense.

Take the value-density conundrum, for example. The value-density of a product is its retail price divided by its weight. Miller calculates the value-density of a variety of products and comes up with some interesting questions. Why, for example, does an implanted human egg cost 72 quadrillion times more per gram than tap water, even though the egg is constituted mostly of water? The answer is that the egg is the ultimate currency of Darwinian success, for which there is little supply and much demand. Miller's genius here lies not in the answers he provides but in the questions he asks. Once the questions are posed the answers are rather obvious, but before reading Miller's book, it had never even occurred to me to ask such questions.

Fake Histories Of The World (And Who Reads Them) 
How to fake science, history and religion. An investigation into the invented histories of Atlantis, pre-Ice Age civilizations and cosmic catastrophes.
What is striking about pseudo-histories and sciences is how repetitive they are and, despite their extravagant speculations, how limited their visions are. They are mechanical and lack the éclat - the surprises - of science and history. What is their allure? What are the circumstances of their rise and fall? What is - and was - their audience?

1.6 per cent? Restating the case for human uniqueness 
A brilliant new book cuts through all the media-oriented research about 'clever chimps' using tools, doing maths and feeling emotions, and reminds us that, in truth, there is nothing remotely human about primates.
Not a Chimp: The Hunt to Find the Genes That Make Us Human is a refreshing defence of human uniqueness. 'We are a truly exceptional primate with minds that are genuinely discontinuous to other animals', Jeremy Taylor writes.

The first half of Not a Chimp challenges 'the basis of a 40-year-old concept of human genetic chimp proximity'. Taylor does admit that 'over very appreciable lengths of their respective genomes, humans and chimpanzees are very similar indeed'. He writes: 'This is where the oft-quoted "1.6 per cent that makes us human" comes from. Despite 12 million years of evolutionary separation, six million for each species since the split from the common ancestor, we are surprisingly similar in our genes.'

Hiroshima Day: America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years 
It was a hot August day in Detroit. I was standing on a street corner downtown, looking at the front page of The Detroit News in a news rack. I remember a streetcar rattling by on the tracks as I read the headline: A single American bomb had destroyed a Japanese city. My first thought was that I knew exactly what that bomb was. It was the U-235 bomb we had discussed in school and written papers about, the previous fall.

I thought: "We got it first. And we used it. On a city."

I had a sense of dread, a feeling that something very ominous for humanity had just happened. A feeling, new to me as an American, at 14, that my country might have made a terrible mistake. I was glad when the war ended nine days later, but it didn't make me think that my first reaction on Aug. 6 was wrong.

Unlike nearly everyone else outside the Manhattan Project, my first awareness of the challenges of the nuclear era had occurred—and my attitudes toward the advent of nuclear weaponry had formed—some nine months earlier than those headlines, and in a crucially different context.

Reducing Energy Inputs in the Agricultural Production System 
Oil, natural gas, coal, and other mined fuels provide the United States with nearly all of its energy needs at a cost $700 billion per year. Since more than 90 percent of its oil deposits have been depleted, the United States now imports over 70 percent of its oil at an annual cost of $400 billion. United States agriculture is driven almost entirely by these non-renewable energy sources. Each person in the country on a per capita consumption basis requires approximately 2,000 liters per year in oil equivalents to supply his/her total food, which accounts for about 19 percent of the total national energy use. Farming—that portion of the agricultural/food system in which food is produced—requires about 7 percent and food processing and packaging consume an additional 7 percent, while transportation and preparation use 5 percent of total energy in the United States.

Global usage of oil has peaked at a time when oil reserves are predicted to last only sixty to seventy more years. As oil and natural gas supplies rapidly decline, there will be a greater dependence on coal as a primary energy source. Currently coal supplies are only capable of providing the United States with 50 to 100 more years of energy, although considering the environmental damage done by using coal it is not clear whether we will actually use up all the reserves. Keeping in mind the potential future costs and availability of fossil fuels, we will explore how agricultural production can be maintained while reducing fossil energy inputs by 50 percent.

John Hughes, 'The Steven Spielberg Of Youth Comedy,' Dies At 59 
Richard Corliss: "Hughes generated successful movie-comedy franchises as fast as other people wrote postcards. First the National Lampoon Vacation films ... Then the teen movies" - Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off - "not strictly a series but with more or less the same rep company of kids. And then the blockbuster Home Alone" and its sequels. (Not to mention the movies about Beethoven the enormous dog, written under a pseudonym.)

Winning the ultimate battle: How humans could end war 
Optimists called the first world war "the war to end all wars". Philosopher George Santayana demurred. In its aftermath he declared: "Only the dead have seen the end of war". History has proved him right, of course. What's more, today virtually nobody believes that humankind will ever transcend the violence and bloodshed of warfare. I know this because for years I have conducted numerous surveys asking people if they think war is inevitable. Whether male or female, liberal or conservative, old or young, most people believe it is. For example, when I asked students at my university "Will humans ever stop fighting wars?" more than 90 per cent answered "No". Many justified their assertion by adding that war is "part of human nature" or "in our genes". But is it really?

Out-of-body experiences help bring avatars to life 
The dream of many of paralysed people, computer-game designers – and pornographers – is one step closer to reality with the demonstration of a technique that allows people to physically identify with a virtual body.

The achievement builds on previous work in which neuroscientists created something similar to out-of-body experiences in healthy volunteersMovie Camera and tricked people viewing their virtual body into feeling that body being touched.

In the latest experiment, vibrating pads with flashing lights were positioned on the subjects' backs. Virtual bodies were generated by a camera filming their backs and were viewed as though 2 metres in front of the subjects through a head-mounted display. Repeated stroking of their backs, and the sight of the doppelganger being stroked, created the feeling that they were outside of their bodies.

Adventures in a megacity: Sorrows of the house of Oudh 
The forests of the Ridge are a lung to Delhi. From here, this enormous city, one of the most populous in the world, is invisible, inaudible. The Ridge is uninhabited, almost. For hidden away in a thick jungle of keekar and babul trees are two very different buildings, just 20 metres apart. A satellite ground station next to a ruined hunting lodge, built more than six hundred years ago. The former is bristling with modernity, large dishes, CCTV and high-security defences. However, the inhabitants of the decrepit Malcha Mahal take their security even more seriously. Next to a footpath to the building is a rusted metal signboard that declares:



Malcha Mahal is occupied by members of the former royal family of Oudh, whose rule ended in the 1850s. They fell on hard times, living at one point in the 1980s in a waiting-room at New Delhi Railway Station before hiding themselves away on the Ridge. They have not shot anyone, to my knowledge, though they have let loose their dogs on those who have gone beyond the signpost without permission. I first attempted to visit Malcha Mahal in the early nineties, as a young reporter for the BBC. A liveried servant, whose once-white uniform was muddied and torn, appeared with a large black dog on a tight leash. He carried a silver tray, on which I placed my business card and a letter asking for an audience. Ten minutes later, I received a letter informing me that my request had been turned down, but that I was welcome to ask again. I had now returned, more than 15 years later; a friend had secured an audience with them, and asked me to tag along...

monochrom @ PlumberCon 2009 
monochrom content info
monochrom will take part in PlumberCon 2009. PlumberCon, by the way, tries to "combine the knowledge of experienced security speakers, the craziness of plumbing conclusions, and the fun of a small conference". August 7-9 at the werkzeugH, Vienna.

monochrom @ Journey to the End of the Night: Vienna 
monochrom content info
Friday, August 7, 2009. Meetup: a shallow pit in Prater at 8 PM (GPS: 48.20673 / 16.40878, see map); near Tram 1 stop Prater Hauptallee and U2 station Stadion.

[The Archives]

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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