President Trump: The Inauguration

Trump, BBC, STV, twilight zone

 4pm, BBC One/ STV

 After a long absence, The Twilight Zone returns with one of the most ambitious, expensive and controversial productions in broadcast history. Sci-fi writers have dabbled often with alternative history stories – among the most common is the “What If The Nazis Had Won The Second World War” setting – but this huge interactive virtual reality project, which will unfold on TV, in the press, and on Twitter over the next four years, sets out to build an ongoing alternative present. The story begins in a nightmarish version of 2017 in which huge sections of the US electorate have somehow been duped into voting to make Donald Trump president. It sounds far-fetched, and it is, but as it goes on it becomes more and more chillingly plausible. Today’s feature-length opener concentrates on the gaudy inauguration of President Trump, and the stirrings of protest and despair surrounding the ceremony, while pundits speculate gravely on what lies ahead. It’s a flawed piece, but a disturbing glimpse of the horrors we could stumble into, if we’re not careful.

(via Sunday Herald Scotland )

The History of Electronic Music in 476 Tracks (1937–2001)

electronic, history, music, ubuweb, musicology

Spanning the years 1937-2001, the collection should especially appeal to those with an avant-garde or musicological bent. In fact, the original uploader of this archive of experimental sound, Caio Barros, put these tracks online in 2009 while a student of composition at Brazil’s State University of São Paulo. Barrios’ “initiative,” as he writes at Ubuweb, “became some sort of legend” among musicophiles in the know. And yet, Ubuweb reposts this phenomenal collection with a disclaimer: “It’s a clearly flawed selection”


Chelsea Manning to Be Released Early as Obama Commutes Sentence

Chelsea-Manning, wikileaks, whistleblower, US, Military, leaks

President Obama on Tuesday commuted all but four months of the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Army intelligence analyst convicted of a 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted Mr. Obama’s administration and brought global prominence to WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures. The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to kill herself last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.


Over time, social, religious, and medical changes made dying and death gradually withdraw from view; by mid twentieth century…

“Over time, social, religious, and medical changes made dying and death gradually withdraw from view; by mid twentieth century they became virtually invisible in most large metropolitan centers, especially in America and England. An odd and suggestive aspect of this process is that it roughly coincided with a long increase in depictions of death, some driven by new technologies. Although hard proof is lacking, circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that these two phenomena are related. The diminution of the visible presence of death was not the primary cause of the expansion of depictions, but history and psychology indicate that representation rapidly supplanted actual experience as a new and newly anxious audience sought novel ways to cope with its fears.”

Light Matters. Writings on Photography

Vicki Goldberg


The Best Kitchen Gadget of the 1600s Was a Small, Short-Legged Dog

automation, cooking, history, food, animals, domestication

For hundreds of years the now-extinct turnspit dog, also called Canis Vertigus (“dizzy dog”), vernepator cur, kitchen dog and turn-tyke, was specially bred just to turn a roasting mechanism for meat. And weirdly, this animal was a high-tech fixture for the professional and home cook from the 16th century until the mid-1800s. Turnspit dogs came in a variety of colors and were heavy-set, often with heterochromatic eyes. They were short enough to fit into a wooden wheel contraption that was connected to ropes or chains, which turned the giant turkey or ham on a spit for the master of the house.


Check out this stunning drone shot captured by our friend, Micah Marshall. He was flying above the state border at Moyack, North…


Check out this stunning drone shot captured by our friend, Micah Marshall. He was flying above the state border at Moyack, North Carolina and Chesapeake, Virginia when he noticed that half of the trees were still green, and the other half had no leaves at all. This view offers a beautiful reminder that there are always new perspectives to discover, even when we don’t expect to find anything at all.


Learn more about our new book here:

Remarkable 3D-printed conceptual furniture


Gilles Retsin has been experimenting with 3D-printed design concepts, but he’s also been working with computational mereology to engage in large-scale discrete fabrication. Think of it like Tetris or LEGO: a set of prefabbed interlocking parts that can then be assembled by a robot programmed to create a specific shape.

From the course description taught with Manuel Jimenez:

Continuous fabrication processes have intrinsic problems with fundamental issues such as speed, structural performance, multi-materiality and reversibility. Discrete, or “digital” fabrication processes are based on a small number of different parts connecting with only a limited number of connections possibilities. The design possibility, or the way how elements can combine and aggregate is defined by the geometry of the element itself - which leads to a “tool-less” assembly. The geometry of the parts being assembled provides the dimensional constraints required to precisely achieve complex forms. This year’s research will explore fabrication techniques which are digital, rather than analog, discrete rather than continuous and increasingly fast and assemblage-based. Some of the research strands will specifically focus on the bridge between assemblage, voxelprinting and 3Dprinting.

Finding darkness in the light

Medium, Vera Rubin

As a galaxy rotates, the stars move around its core. If it’s edge-on to us, then on one side, the galaxy rotates “towards” us, while the other side rotates “away from” us. The faster the galaxy rotates, the faster the “towards” and “away” motions are. If the rotations are fast enough and your instruments are good enough, you can actually measure this effect. This was the incredible possibility that Vera Rubin began investigating. Thanks to advances in spectroscopy — the capability of breaking light up into individual wavelengths, detecting emission and absorption lines — Vera Rubin and Kent Ford started taking measurements of nearby galaxies in an attempt to measure their rotation speeds.


The UBI already exists for the 1%

Medium, Matt Bruenig, UBI, citizens dividend, capital

The fact is that capitalist societies already dedicate a large portion of their economic outputs to paying out money to people who have not worked for it. The UBI does not invent passive income. It merely doles it out evenly to everyone in society, rather than in very concentrated amounts to the richest people in society. The idea of capturing the 30% of national income that flows passively to capital every year and handing it out to everyone in society in equal chunks has been around since at least Oskar Lange wrote about it in the early parts of the last century. This is, to me, the best way to do a UBI, both practically and ideologically. Don’t tax labor to give money out to UBI loafers. Instead, snag society’s capital income, which is already paid out to people without regard to whether they work, and pay it out to everyone.


Murmurs from a Shadowless Land: Fragmentary Reflections on the Cinema of Werner Herzog

Medium, Werner Herzog, Alkan Chipperfield, cinema, sublime

The images and characters of Werner Herzog’s cinema have come to inhabit or possess me deeply, and yet their habitation or possession has occurred so fluidly that I suspect they were inside me all along, requiring only to be articulated in the inimitably concrete and idiosyncratic way they are in Herzog’s films. Few other filmmakers have so silently and gently explored the abysses of ecstasy and darkness; few have observed, from such an inscrutable, Olympian remove, the ludicrous and grotesque minutiae of life. For surely Herzog’s conception of the sublimity and ridiculousness of what is called the human condition brings him as close in spirit to the ancient Greeks as it does to that dark and satirical current of Germanic Romanticism represented by Kleist, Hölderlin, or Büchner, and which remains his indelible cultural heritage. Yet through the eye of Herzog’s lens the world is transfixed, rendered hopelessly, exquisitely weightless, ultimately diffusing beyond grasp the solid structures within which tragedy or satire can take root.


In Conversation with Stevie Wishart

Medium, Stevie Wishart, Alkan Chipperfield, music, art, interview, FoAM

Stevie Wishart was FoAM’s “composer in transience” at the Brussels studio for most of 2015. Her residency emerged as a natural consequence of a long involvement with FoAM spanning several years and numerous projects, including most recently Wheel & Time(less), Candlemas Concerto, FutureFest, Smoke & Vapour, and Inner Garden. When I had the opportunity to talk with her in the spring of 2015 she was deeply immersed in a large composition that would be performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in May. Our discussions therefore gravitated around the particular challenges and musical innovations she was imminently preoccupied with at the time — which made for some fascinating comparisons and contrasts between these and the very different contexts and approaches entailed in working on a musical project at FoAM.


Serbian society has pioneered a lot of situations that spread elsewhere. Today’s religious wars, economic sanctions, breaking of…

“Serbian society has pioneered a lot of situations that spread elsewhere. Today’s religious wars, economic sanctions, breaking of economic sanctions, financial collapse, ultra rich moguls robbing the middle class, major air powers blowing the daylights out of an unfriendly regime with allegedly precise bombs: daily life in Serbia 1999 is something most everybody understands now. It’s the “Globalization of Balkanization. (…) Serbs are also exceedingly good at dealing with disasters. They complain incessantly in normal daily life, but when ever life gets genuinely hazardous, they scarcely beef at all. Everybody diligently stacks the sandbags, and nobody wrings their hands or slacks off. That’s a difficult virtue to acquire, but it is indeed a virtue.”

 Bruce Sterling& Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016

Internet Counterevolution doesn’t mean a return to the status quo ante of the world before the Internet.  Globalization goes on,…

Internet Counterevolution doesn’t mean a return to the status quo ante of the world before the Internet.  Globalization goes on, it just loses its glamour; where there was spreading prosperity there is offshored exploitation, where there was free-moving discussion there are cyberwar trolls, where there was your happy face in a Facebook there’s in instant police dossier that you foolishly built yourself, where nobody knew you were a dog you are now branded-and-sorted Stack livestock, and so on.  

Twenty-teens globalization looks less like jet-set free-spending yuppie tourism and more like hordes of illegal Syrians arriving via Facebook support groups.  The wanderers are mostly Moslems, because the effect of the digital“Arab Spring” on their somnolent societies was catastrophic.  It’s amazing how badly that harmed them, and they show no sign of getting over it; on the contrary. But refugee life is for anybody, now.  Rich or poor, they can all be fleeing, at a moment’s notice, if they get a sudden deluge of Greenhouse rain.  People everywhere are afraid of immigrants now because they see their own face in that mirror.

Bruce Sterling& Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2016

The only ‘realities’ (plural) that we actually experience and can talk meaningfully about are perceived realities, experienced…

“The only‘realities’ (plural) that we actually experience and can
talk meaningfully about are perceived realities, experienced
realities, existential realities– realities involving ourselves as
editors– and they are all relative to the observer, fluctuating,
evolving, capable of being magnified and enriched, moving from low
resolution to hi-fi, and do not fit together like the pieces of a
jig-saw into one single Reality with a capital R. Rather, they cast
illumination upon one another by contrast, like the paintings in a
large museum, or the different symphonic styles of Haydn, Mozart,
Beethoven, and Mahler.”

Robert Anton Wilson

The Death of the Magician - Liu Cixin

Medium, liu cixin, fiction, ottoman

His sense of time was very accurate: The tremor came the moment he expected it, a powerful, violent quake that seemed to originate from deep within the earth. The vibrating silver candelabra hummed, and a wisp of dust that had sat on top of the Great Palace for perhaps a thousand years fell down and drifted into the candle flames, where the motes exploded in tiny sparks.


Inbox Autopilot

Medium, Klint Finley, fiction, automation, saas, email, work

It was puzzling. I remembered the suggestion that they were outsourcing the email responses to call centers in the Philippines, but these emails were coming from someone not only familiar with construction administration, but with this specific project. That meant the only possible explanation was that they had some artificial intelligence software learn the project inside out by reading my email and automatically generating responses.


Fascism and The Historical Irony of Facebook’s “Fake News” Problem

Medium, Fascism, fact, fake news, post truth, history, Mussolini, Trump, Facebook, filter bubble

I don’t know how we rehabilitate science and fact. Some large subset of our population believes that climate change is a hoax. For them, the fake is completely real. When you look the mid-20th century, you see Germany leaving facts behind too. Citizens cease to debate the German economy, and instead put their faith in a charismatic leader. In the US now there is a large population that can’t understand what’s happening to them politically, economically or culturally. Today, people can’t understand why abortion is legal. They can’t understand why gay marriage is legal. They can’t understand where the factories have gone. It’s the turn from fact that makes fascism possible. If they turn away from reasoning altogether, they can turn toward feeling like part of a body following a charismatic leader.


How We Broke Democracy (But Not in the Way You Think)

Medium, opinion, truth, post-truth, facebook, filter bubble, democracy, compromise

Since we feel uncomfortable when we’re exposed to media that pushes back on our perspective (like that weird political uncle you see at a family reunion), we usually end up avoiding it. It requires a lot of effort to change opinions, and generally it feels gross to have difficult chats with people that don’t agree with us. So, we politely decline the opportunity to become their friend, buy their product, read their magazine, or watch their show. We insulate ourselves in these ‘information ghettos’ not because we mean to, but because it’s just easier.


Inequality and Skin in the Game

Medium, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, inequality, static, dynamic

You do not create dynamic equality just by raising the level of those at the bottom, but rather by making the rich rotate –or by forcing people to incur the possibility of creating an opening. The way to make society more equal is by forcing (through skin in the game) the rich to be subjected to the risk of exiting from the one percent

Dynamic equality assumes Markov chain with no absorbing states

Our condition here is stronger than mere income mobility. Mobility means that someone can become rich. The no absorbing barrier condition means that someone who is rich should never be certain to stay rich.

Dynamic equality is what restores ergodicity, making time and ensemble probabilities substitutable


The architecture of intolerance: From Wahhabism to Le Corbusier and back again

Medium, Architecture, Le Corbusier, Wahhabism, extremism, religion, polytheism, heterodoxy

Comparing Le Corbusier to the Wahhabi attitude towards ‘heterodox’ architecture one must, in my opinion, pay particular attention to Le Corbusier’s attitude towards the house. In a secular society, there is no more sacred place that the house. And this is precisely why Le Corbusier is attacking the house: he is a religious fanatic. People want their houses to reflect their individual personalities and connect them with the history of their communities. For Le Corbusier this is the equivalent of the Wahhabis’ shirk — the heretical polytheism of the ‘household gods’.


Algorithmic Transparency


Algorithmic transparency is a necessary prerequisite for a democratic society. Traditionally democratic societies have been based upon the rule of law. In order for this to be possible, the law had to be transparent. Any citizen had to be able to have access to the laws of the land, be able to read and hopefully understand them. While the legal profession exists to help people with this comprehension, there is still a general principle that any individual could, if they so choose, represent themselves in a court of law.

Algorithms similarly need to be accessible to every person. Obviously there will be an industry that exists to ensure that this access is coherent and reasonable, but just as with the law, algorithms need to serve the people, rather than the other way around.


Story Thought and System Thought

Medium, system thinking, story thinking, narrative, psychology, design

Many disputes reflect differences in how people think as much as in what they think about a particular issue. We can’t always persuade one another simply by expressing our positions, introducing information, and counting “pros” and “cons.” Instead, our disagreements often start upstream, so to speak, as we and others diverge in which modes of thinking we consider legitimate. Frameworks for understanding these modes can help us to translate between them, the “story thought” vs. “system thought” framework.


Introducing Factmata — Artificial intelligence for automated fact-checking

Medium, facts, post-truth, AI, machine learning, fact checking

Over the course of the next few months, we will be launching a prototype of the research already completed in statistical fact checking and claim detection. So far, our work has been in identifying claims in text by the named entities they contain, what economic statistics those claims are about, and verifying if they are “fact-checkable”. At the moment, we can only check claims that can be validated by known statistical databases — we built our system on Freebase (an fact database that came out of Wikipedia’s knowledge graph), and will be migrating it to new databases such as EUROSTAT and the World Bank Databank.