I had very soon seen that analytical psychology coincided in a most curious way with alchemy. The experiences of the alchemists…

“I had very soon seen that analytical psychology coincided in a most curious way with alchemy. The experiences of the alchemists were, in a sense, my experiences, and their world was my world. This was of course, a momentous discovery: I had stumbled upon the historical counterpart of my psychology of the unconscious. The possibility of comparison with alchemy, and the uninterrupted intellectual chain back to Gnosticism, gave substance to my psychology. When I pored over those old texts, everything fell into place: the fantasy-images, the empirical material I had gathered in my practice, and the conclusions I had drawn from it. I now began to understand what these psychic contents meant when seen in historical perspective.”

C.G. Jung [Psychology and Alchemy] (viamagictransistor)

Sacking Berlin

Berlin, Quinn Slobodian, Michelle Sterling, gentrification, development, creative class, distopia, p

So maybe this time the Golden Age really has ended. Back when Berliners hung swings in window frames, painted houses in neon colors, and planted gardens on their rooftops, none of it was supposed to pay off. In the officially Creative city, though, everything is different. The town’s whimsy and play have been branded by the SPD, sold to venture capital, and dangled before its residents via the Yummie Net.


The Internet of Plants

plants, sensing, biosensors, research, EC, cyborg plants, precision agriculture

In the not too distant future, we could see cyborg plants that tell us when they need more water, what chemicals they’ve been exposed to, and what parasites are eating their roots. These part-organic, part-electronic creations may even tell us how much pollution is in the air. And yes, they’ll plug into the network. That’s right: We’re on our way to the Internet of Plants.


Daido Moriyama: Farewell, Photography

Daido Moriyama, history, photography, essay, Gil Blank, art, deconstruction, modernism, punk

The images were rampantly blurred, grainy, scratched, and often just muddled shades of gray. The compositions were negligible, if they could be called compositions at all. Moriyama’s pictorial choices seemed to have been made completely at random, and the reproductions often included the sprocket holes at the negatives’ edges, like a film gone completely off its track. With thirty-five years’ hindsight, it’s easy to see the book as the spiritual godfather of the garage-band aesthetic that dominated commercial design in the eighties and nineties, typified by Raygun magazine and 4AD Records. The visual aesthetic of punk owes Moriyama a debt, as does every art school naïf who has ever taken it upon himself to boil his negatives; piss in the developer tray; mangle, staple, and tear at his prints; or otherwise molest the mechanics of the medium to achieve what by now are fairly standard results.


Meet the Mad Scientists Who Invented Edible Fireworks

wired, Bompas and Parr, food, experience design

People like to call Sam Bompas and Harry Parr the Willy Wonkas of the 21st century. The two Londoners do have some distinctly Wonkalian qualities: the distinct sense of style, the larger-than-life personalities and most notably, a penchant for creating fantastical, logic-defying food experiences. Like Wonka himself, Bompas and Parr once built a 10-foot waterfall flowing with chocolate and have even invented a flavor-changing chewing gum. Even so, the knee-jerk description might be selling the mad food scientists a bit short. As Bompas puts it: “Wonka was a bit of a sadist, and I’d like to think our events are a lot more open and democratic than his approach.”


Google Goes Evil By Funding Ted Cruz and ALEC’s Global Warming Denial

GOOG, Google, Evil, climate denial, ALEC, capital

There is simply no squaring the moral ambition of the “Don’t Be Evil” motto of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin with funding for a group that promotes “The Many Benefits of Increased Atmospheric CO2.” ALEC is exactly who Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was talking about when he said at a recent Google symposium: “You can lie about the effects of climate change, but eventually you’ll be seen as a liar.”


Crash Course on Notation in Programming Language Theory

programming, PLT, theory, notation, programming languages, computing, mathematics

This post is a crash course on the notation used in programming language theory (“PL theory” for short). For a much more thorough introduction, I recommend Types and Programming Languages by Benjamin C. Pierce and Semantic Engineering with PLT Redex by Felleisen, Findler, and Flatt. I’ll assume the reader is an experienced programmer but not an experienced mathematician or PL theorist. I’ll start with the most basic definitions and try to build up quickly.


A Preliminary Analysis of the Botany, Zoology, and Mineralogy of the Voynich Manuscript

Voynich Manuscript, botany, patabotany, mexico, catholic church, herbal

We note that the style of the drawings in the Voynich Ms. is similar to 16th century codices from Mexico (e.g., Codex Cruz-Badianus). With this prompt, we have identified a total of 37 of the 303 plants illustrated in the Voynich Ms. (roughly 12.5% of the total), the six principal animals, and the single illustrated mineral. The primary geographical distribution of these materials, identified so far, is from Texas, west to California, south to Nicaragua, pointing to a botanic garden in central Mexico, quite possibly Huaztepec (Morelos). A search of surviving codices and manuscripts from Nueva España in the 16th century, reveals the calligraphy of the Voynich Ms. to be similar to the Codex Osuna (1563-1566, Mexico City). Loan-words for the plant and animal names have been identified from Classical Nahuatl, Spanish, Taino, and Mixtec. The main text, however, seems to be in an extinct dialect of Nahuatl from central Mexico, possibly Morelos or Puebla.


The End of the Snowden Operation

NSA, Snowden, IC Reform, International Relations

However, yesterday President Obama ended the political debate about the Snowden Operation with his much-anticipated speech about NSA and reform, based on the recommendations of his own panel. As my colleague Tom Nichols and I have long predicted, the reform package Obama has delivered is a stinging defeat for the NSA haters. Yes, it will be more difficult for NSA analysts to access metadata, but access it they will. Yes, NSA collection against top foreign leaders will be restricted, somewhat, but Agency support to U.S. and Allied diplomacy will continue. The bottom line is that President Obama’s reforms contain no significant changes to how NSA does business as the leading foreign intelligence agency in the United States and the free world.


social turkers: crowsourced dating

outsourced life, turkers, mechanical turk, IRL, social interaction

Would unbiased third party monitors be better suited to interpret situations and make decisions for the parties involved? How might augmenting our experience help us become more aware in our relationships, shift us out of normal patterns, and open us to unexpected possibilities? I am developing a system like this for myself using Amazon Mechanical Turk. During a series of dates with new people I meet on the internet, I will stream the interaction to the web using an iPhone app. Turk workers will be paid to watch the stream, interpret what is happening, and offer feedback as to what I should do or say next. This feedback will be communicated to me via text message.


First Observation of a Quantum Cheshire Cat

quantum, measurement, weak measurement, cat, cheshire cat

Yuji Hasegawa at Vienna University of Technology in Austria and a few pals say they’ve observed a quantum Cheshire cat for the first time. These guys have performed a paradoxical experiment in which they measure the location of neutrons in one part of the set up while detecting their spin in another part. “The results exhibit the characteristics of a quantum Cheshire Cat,” they conclude.


[T]here is no other aesthetic problem than that of the insertion of art into everyday life. The more our daily life appears…

“[T]here is no other aesthetic problem than that of the insertion of art into everyday life. The more our daily life appears standardized, stereotyped and subject to an accelerated reproduction of objects of consumption, the more art must be injected into it in order to extract that little difference which plays simultaneously between other levels of repetition, and even in order to make the two extremes resonate — namely, that habitual series of consumption and the instinctual series of destruction and death.”

Gilles Deleuze,Difference and Repetition

Provenance and Trust

Provenance, trust, systems, science, Yolanda Gil, traces

Provenance refers to the origins of objects. Software systems should generate provenance records for their results, containing assertions about the entities and activities involved in producing and delivering or otherwise influencing that object. By knowing the provenance of an object, we can for example make assessment about its validity and whether it can be trusted, we can decide how to integrate it with others, and can validate that it was generated according to specifications.


"About six years ago I found a discussion forum online where users were sharing techniques for accessing various devices that…

surveillance, IoT, security, panopticon

“About six years ago I found a discussion forum online where users were sharing techniques for accessing various devices that were all networked through the internet. A large part of the discussion surrounded the ability to access unsecured webcam control panels, which had at some point been indexed though the search robots at Google. Interestingly, even control panels that required a password were sometimes very easily bypassed by a default user & password combination from the original device settings. At some point I started making screen captures [with] the webcams I was able to access. Sometimes it would be an image of a dog in a cage, or a tired employee behind a cash register in a convenience store… fairly uneventful moments, but every camera that successfully loaded felt like I was viewing a portal into another world, a space only accessible though digital means.

Using this methodology, I eventually accessed the control panel for this camera, which offered almost complete pan & tilt options, a 21x optical zoom, focus control, and exposure adjustments. The level of control was unparalleled compared to the other cameras I was accessing.

Andrew Hammerand’s Suburban Panopticon via In the In-Between

Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2014

2014, WELL, Bruce Sterling, Jon Lebkowsky, state of the word

Well, it’s 2014, and I thank goodness the WELL is still here. I’ve never been so happy to have an Internet account that doesn’t belong to some ultra-rich creep. It’ll be hard, this year, not to dwell obsessively on the capering specters of the NSA, Snowden, Wikileaks, Bitcoin… 2013 turned out to be the year when the Digital Revolution trended Stalinist. Old-school Digital Bolsheviks scattered hapless in every direction, as Big Data Killer Bot Commissars scoured the darkening landscape, and Trotsky went to ground in Ecuador. An extraordinary atmosphere of sullen, baffled evil, as the year opens. I don’t know what to compare 2014 to – except for many other glum post-revolutionary situations, when the zealots succeeded in toppling the status quo, then failed to install a just and decent form of civil order. The world in 2014 is like a globalized Twitter Egypt.


02013 (365) in review

photography, 2013, review, first person, daily practice

2013 timeline_colour

“Perhaps true, total photography […] is a pile of fragments of private images, against the creased background of massacres and coronations.”
—Italo Calvino

For the last three (solar) years i’ve taken at least one photo per day, every day, in an ongoing series of small acts of deliberate persistence. After more than 1000 days patterns emerge, inspiration ebbs and returns, the pile of fragments grows. While i’ve never made a deliberate attempt to narrow the focus or or create further constraints than ‘one photo per day’ it’s inevitable that subjective and analytic patterns become visible.


The analytic patterns have been extracted using the Flickr API (the code can be found at github). During 02013 there are more greyscale images (171) than previously while light (66), pattern (41), reflection (38), texture (29), shadow (27) and plants (20) remain common themes (for previous years see 02012 (366) and 02011 (365))



During the year there were 746 unique tags used of which 462 were only used once, these include agave, fishbones, gargoyles in boxes, ရွှေတိဂုံစေတီတော် (aka Shwedagon Zedi Daw) and vanga. Taxidermy, Sarracenia, The Secretariat, Geomancy and Filmske Novosti were also only mentioned once.


The majority of photos were made in Belgium (241) with others in Australia (48), Croatia (18), Austria (10), Burma (9), Cambodia (7), Singapore (7), Indonesia (6), Iceland (4), UK (5), Romania (4), Germany (3), Switzerland (1), The Netherlands (1) and France (1). (local level geolocation is probably more informative but also less comprehensive)


Flickr also establishes a ranking of what it algorithmically determines “interestingness” and interestingly enough, a significant portion of those images are from 02013. Of the various groups posted to, the most common were blurism, Leica, Black and White, FlickrCentral, Abstract Photos and Urban Fragments (No People).


I’ve begun to see this daily practice as a point of departure, a habit to maintain focus (or resemble it) curiosity and ambiguity. Some of the more persistent photos from 02013 were sliced from moments of distraction, accident or circumstance during which suggestions and new directions may emerge.


In a sequence, each image absorbs metadata, footnotes, contextual bleed (images within images) it becomes dislocated with images rendered from the middle ground between mechanical/chemical and electronic/networked where each image is no more than a scratched line across spacetime. fleeting. crystalised. repeated.


“When I’m dreaming back like that I begins to see we’re only all telescopes.”
—James Joyce

The Magic Bishop- Hugo Ball

dada, hugo ball, cabaret voltaire, art, alchemy, evil, magic, play

Dada was an attempt to return ‘through the innermost alchemy of the word’ to a more magical, playful reality through overturning of all the conventions associated with civilized adult society- drawing on African, Nordic and Sanskrit traditions, the Cabaret Voltaire was a riot of nonsense, play, colour, and noise- a giant, noisy incantation against all the ills of the world. Dada was ‘the heart of words’. It was a fight. It was a magical battle.


“We’re like meridians, all beginning and ending in the same place. We spread out from the beginning and go our separate ways,…

“We’re like meridians, all beginning and ending in the same place. We spread out from the beginning and go our separate ways, over seas and mountains and islands and deserts, each telling our own story, as different as they could possibly be. But in the end we all converge and our ends are as much the same as our beginnings.”

 - Neal Stephenson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reamde)

Searching the Internet for evidence of time travelers

time travel, arxiv, Robert Nemiroff, Teresa Wilson, internet

Time travel has captured the public imagination for much of the past century, but little has been done to actually search for time travelers. Here, three implementations of Internet searches for time travelers are described, all seeking a prescient mention of information not previously available. The first search covered prescient content placed on the Internet, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific terms in tweets on Twitter. The second search examined prescient inquiries submitted to a search engine, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific search terms submitted to a popular astronomy web site. The third search involved a request for a direct Internet communication, either by email or tweet, pre-dating to the time of the inquiry. Given practical verifiability concerns, only time travelers from the future were investigated. No time travelers were discovered. Although these negative results do not disprove time travel, given the great reach of the Internet, this search is perhaps the most comprehensive to date.