Apr 14

Skeuomorphic Noises and the Electric Car

skeuomorphic danger car

This car takes skeuomorphism to the XTREME!!!

Here’s an interesting thing from a while back about the noise and electric car will make. They’re very quiet and this is very dangerous. So sounds have to be added to increase their safety. And there’s even a name for this process of putting old ideas into new technologies.

Skeuomorphic is the technical term for incorporating old, familiar ideas into new technologies, even though they no longer play a functional role. Skeuomorphic designs are often comfortable for traditionalists, and indeed the history of technology shows that new technologies and materials often slavishly imitate the old for no apparent reason except that it’s what people know how to do. Early automobiles looked like horse-driven carriages without the horses (which is also why they were called horseless carriages); early plastics were designed to look like wood; folders in computer file systems often look like paper folders, complete with tabs. One way of overcoming the fear of the new is to make it look like the old. This practice is decried by design purists, but in fact, it has its benefits in easing the transition from the old to the new. It gives comfort and makes learning easier. Existing conceptual models need only be modified rather than replaced. Eventually, new forms emerge that have no relationship to the old, but the skeuomorphic designs probably helped the transition.

Funny how a new word can open up a new way of seeing things. You kind of have to wonder how much of the world is skeuomorphic. It seems those designs would pile up quicker than new ones. Our future is probably a synthetic past. Maybe we’re already living in that world. Hard to say. It would be nice if there was a less cumbersome word for the whole thing but, you know, academics  . . .

Anyway, the article about the cars is a good one.

Apr 13

Owl Pellets: Skimming the Electronic Cupcake Voices of Quantum Disgust

ryan and lobo

It’s been a decent few weeks around here. I took some time off from writing. Bought a new coffee table, moved some furniture around, and drove my wife crazy until I figured that, for the sake of staying married, I should maybe stop with the taking some time off writing thing. Besides, I was getting itchy. So I did some more re-writes on something I was working on and they felt good to do. It was one of those sort of small but extensive ideas that changes the whole flavor and nature of a book and just feels right. Those are rare fucking moments. Don’t last long either. Take ‘em where you get em, I sez. And I started working on something new. Annnd baseball season started.

I also think I came up with a schedule that let’s me post here without totally fucking me up. Nothing special, you understand. Just quick, dirty trash. No thinky pieces or reviews but the internet has too much of that shit anyway. So much of how one thing is like another thing and so on and so forth and hide the gun, dear. So this’ll just be detritus and the creatures that live in it. As it was in the before-time. As it will be again.


seperation anxiety

What Is Cupcake Fascism?: A piece I like more for its venomous hatred of those STAY CALM AND CARRY ON memes more than for any insight it purports to have into either cupcakes or fascism.

Echoes of Individuation: The Black Stack, Bicameral Minds & EVP: This is a strange and interesting chunk of thinking and it goes almost directly towards something I’ve been mulling over quite a bit lately but don’t want to get into here. Well worth a read.

The Astounding Link Between the P≠NP Problem and the Quantum Nature of Universe: If you’re the sort of person who wonders why quantum rules seem to break down on larger scales, this is the piece for you. Someone might have figured that shit out. And the answer is both shocking and kinda simple. As it should be.

Morality, Disgust & Mental Illness: Links about disgust. It’s a fascinating topic. At least, I think it is.

Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say: There’s always bullshit like this around. The brain can do all sorts of things and neither laziness nor stupidity is technologically determined. There’s an easy cure too. Pick up a book and read it. The internet will still be there when you get back.

Eyes and Ears

Patrick K.-H. / Andreas Karaoulanis “suRred” from Patrick K.-H. on Vimeo.

Patrick K.-H.: animation, sound http://drawnsound.org/
Andreas Karaoulanis: animation http://bestbefore.gr/blog/
2014 ev

Apr 12

Logical Nanobots Implanted in Cockroaches

Logical nanobots have been implanted in cockroaches where they can act like a computer. Why would people do such a thing? Probably because they’re perverts. Or to deliver drugs. To other people. Who are probably perverts. In the future. Which is definitely a . . .


Artist’s rendering of the hot insect on human sex acts of the drug addicted future times.

pic nicked from here

Live Science says:

The experimenters used a technique called “DNA origami” to make the robots. DNA comes in a double-helix shape, making long strings. And like yarn, the strings can be linked together to make different shapes. In this case, the researchers knitted together DNA into a kind of folded box with a lid, a robot called an “E” for “effector.” The “lid” opened when certain molecules bumped into it. [Code of Life: Photos of DNA Structures]

The robots were injected into a Blaberus discoidalis cockroach, a species commonly used as pet food for reptiles. Inside each “box” was another chemical, which recognized the hemolymph cells, which are the cockroach’s version of white blood cells. The chemical in the box would bind to the blood cells.

But instead of just injecting one kind of robot, the scientists used four: “E,” “P1,” “P2,” and “N.” The different robots carried “keys” to open up the “E” robots in the presence of one or more chemical cues. So, for example, one test was on E robots that opened up only if both cues (call them X and Y) were present. Adding the P1 robots to the mix lets the E’s open up in response to X only, while adding the P2 robots lets the E robots open in response to Y only.

This is just like a logic gate in a computer — an AND (X and Y) or an OR gate (X or Y).

Meanwhile, the “N” robots stop the E bots from opening up, so they function like the “NOT” gates in a computer.

In combination, all of these robots can then do logical operations, such as counting the number of times a given chemical hits the robot carrying the payload being delivered.

So basically programmable drugs. I could think of worse things. I’d like to think of worse things. I would like to take some drugs programmed to make me think all the things a person can think about programmable drugs. I want it specific and I want it controlled. I want an off switch.


Apr 10

Spiders Cause Mazda Recall of 42,000 Sedans

Mazda has recalled 42,000 sedans because they’re a nesting ground for spiders. It’s not just the creepy critter factor either. These spiders present an actual danger.

An artist’s rendering of mechanics attempting to fix Mazda’s spider problem.

An artist’s rendering of mechanics attempting to fix Mazda’s spider problem.

Medical Daily says:

According to Mazda spokespeople, this particular breed of spider, known as the yellow sac spider, somehow is wildly attracted to crawling into the gas tank, where they nest and build webs. “The yellow sac spider is attracted to the hydrocarbons in gasoline and can find its way into a fuel tank hose,” Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes told CNN. Once they are inside, the spiders weave silk webs, blocking airflow, thus creating a fire hazard. Though there haven’t been any fires reported to date, Mazda has received several complaints about the spiders.

This isn’t the first time Mazda has issued such a recall. Three years ago, they recalled 52,000 cars because of spiders.

Neither Mazda nor insect experts know why the spiders seem to favor these cars but they suspect that Mazda’s now infamous A PERFECT PLACE TO BUILD YOUR WEB ad campaign, which was directed specifically at the yellow sac spider demographic, may be at fault. Researchers are now hard at work attempting to implant these spiders into the spines of the car buying population, where they will live as jelly-like mind-controlling symbionts. In the meantime, Mazda continues to search for ways to charge the spiders rent. The company has expressed dissatisfaction with receiving payments in the spider’s favored currencies of flies and bitcoin.

Apr 09

Devil in the Room: Short Movie About Sleep Paralysis


Devil in the Room is an eight minute movie about sleep paralysis.

I used to suffer from sleep paralysis and it’s pretty fucking terrifying. But, maybe even worse, is the stuff you think it is before you learn about it. This is a good movie that gets into the science behind what’s happening and, maybe, if you have the same problem, will make it all a little easier to deal with. If you don’t, it’s well worth a watch anyway.

I think I found it via WFMU but can’t remember. Meh.

Devil In The Room from Mackinnonworks on Vimeo.

Throughout summer 2012, two or three times a week, I would wake up unable to move, deeply afraid and convinced there was someone or something in the room with me. Sometimes I would see or hear people around the bed or feel cats padding over the blanket. One time I woke up and saw a giant spider hovering over me! This strange phenomenon is called sleep paralysis, and I decided to make a film about it. This experimental docu-horror was supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award and made as part of an MA in Animation at Royal College of Art. It is part of The Sleep Paralysis Project (thesleepparalysisproject.org). See the website for more information on the scientific and cultural background of sleep paralysis.

Narrated by Prof. Chris French; Sleeper – Anne Sophie Marie; Additional Voiceover & Old Hag – Victoria Grove

Produced and Directed by Carla MacKinnon
Projection mapped bedroom animated and mapped by seeper.com
Sound and Music by Dominic de Grande
Demons designed and fabricated by Anna Ginsburg and Jen Cardno
Researched by Dan Denis
Associate Produced by James Mullighan
Additional everything by Christian Schlaeffer and Stephen McNally

Apr 09

Poodle Exercise with Humans

Apr 09

Cockroaches Breed Faster When They Cuddle

cockroach experiment

Female cockroaches who experience the soft touch of other cockroach antennae (or a simulation of it) reproduce faster than ones who do not.

Smithsonian sez:

Across the board, the team found, females that were completely left to their own devices or that were exposed only to a dead roach developed their eggs significantly slower than those that were lucky enough to land in more social cages. The roaches that were allowed to interact with other female roaches or even with female roach antenna alone significantly sped up their reproduction, but the females that socialized with the roaches with the cut-off-antenna did not. This indicates that something about the touch—not the presence of another roach—triggers the hormones.

Finally, confirming their hypothesis, the feathers served as effective stand-ins for roach antennae, especially the ones that were less downy and more barbed. Slowly rotating the feathers for occasional touches produced better results than a tactile overload at 30 revolutions per minute, the team found.

While the researchers discovered that the roaches with the fastest reproduction rates were those that were allowed to cuddle with other living cockroaches, the results indicate that touch itself seems to be at the crux of hastening production at those six-legged egg factories.

So it seems even the humble cockroach likes to be loved. In an almost totally disgusting way. Just like humans.

Apr 08

Apex Predator Suit and Shoes Made From Human Hair and Teeth

This is the Apex Predator suit and shoes.

apex predator

The suit is made from human hair and glass eyeballs.

apex predator suit

The shoes are made from leather and real human teeth.

apex predator shoes

And this is why I should have been born a billionaire.

apex predator suit and shoes

One of the reasons, at least.

The suit and shoes were designed by fine art duo Fantich & Young. They don’t recommend walking in the shoes, which I have a problem with, because what’s the point of having such great shoes if you can’t walk in them? I’m all for looking at art but I’d rather wear it. Aside from that, the only problem with these shoes is that they’re black leather, which is gross. Black leather shoes are for cops. The teeth make up for it. I guess.

They also make stilettos.

preadtor stilletos


Apr 07

Harvard’s Human Bound Books

human bound book

When I was a little kid, the library in my village was located in one of the village’s oldest buildings: the Town Hall. The library was two rooms. One, brightly lit and carpeted, the other darker and with hardwood floors for the adults. The bright and friendly room was for the kids. The more serious one was for the adults. A large hallway separated the two. And no kids were allowed in the adult room. I was thrown out a few times. You needed a pass and an escort, I think.

I somehow managed to get allowed into the adult room. I can’t remember how. (Probably just by spending a lot of time at the library, returning books on time, answering quizzes about what I read and bothering the librarians. I was a persistent little fuck.) I do remember how intimidating the adult room was. All sorts of lurid covers. Names I’d never heard of writing about things I had no conception of in words I couldn’t pronounce. And, in the darkest, most distant corner, there was a section on The Occult.

I spent most of my time in that section. I read the dictionaries of superstition, the supposedly true ghost stories (adults called them “poltergeists” and the stories “phenomena”), psychic powers (“telekinetic/telepathic abilities”) and more Colin Wilson than any ten year old should. None of it was really what I was looking for. I didn’t want paperbacks. I wanted something like this: Harvard discovers three of its library books are bound in human flesh.

Harvard’s creepy books deal with Roman poetry, French philosophy, and a treatise on medieval Spanish law for which the previously mentioned flayed skin was supposedly used. The book, Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias… has a very interesting inscription inside, as The Harvard Crimson reports.

The book’s 794th and final page includes an inscription in purple cursive: ‘the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.’

Years later, the infamous “flayed skin book” had garnered so much attention on campus that Harvard went ahead and had the thing tested, concluding that it was likely a morbid 17th century joke. Despite the creepy inscription, their tests showed that the book’s cover was actually made out of a mixture of “cattle and pig collagen”. Hey, two genuine flesh-books out of three ain’t bad.

I’m not sure if any of these are really bound in human flesh. Just as I started writing this post, this came across my twitter timeline:

But I’m not really all that concerned about whether or not the story is factual. (What adults call “true.”) I’ve already spent a good portion of my childhood trying to move objects with my mind and read people’s thoughts. I doubt anything I read online can compare with the disappointment I felt after failing to conjure Satan in the back yard or see him through a keyhole. (I mean, I could see why God wouldn’t answer prayers but Satan? Satan is supposed to be in the market for souls. One never expects good to show up but evil should always be there for the interested youngster.) And they took my old library and moved it into a strip mall next to a pharmacy. Put the whole thing under florescent lights and behind plate-glass windows. So, I don’t really expect anything interesting to be true or, if it is true, to be true for very long.

All that I really want to know about these human bound books, is: Does anyone still do this and what do I have to do to have it done to me? I’d like to be useful after I die. Useful to people, that is. Feeding worms has always struck me as basically humiliating.  I’d prefer my corpse to look like this:

human skin book


Apr 06

Bird-Witched – Chicken Stilettos by Masaya Kushino

These chicken inspired shoes by Masaya Kushino are amazing. I would love a pair. If I can’t have a pair, I would love for my wife to have a pair and kick me in the face with them. Stomp up and down my chest and back. Step on my throat and cluck.

bird-witched04-670x435 Masaya Kushino

Spoon & Tamago sez:

Japanese shoe designer Masaya Kushino, known for his extravagant creations that walk a thin line between footwear and sculpture, has created a new line of shoes inspired by the chicken. “Bird-Witched” actually takes its cue fromJakuchu Ito, “a legendary painter who flourished during the Edo period in the 18th century,” says Kushino. “He depicted real life animals such as birds, tigers, and elephants in a really ingenious way, tinged with a bit of insanity.”

For his latest collection, Kushino decided to depict the process of a bird turning into a pair of luxurious, feather-clad shoes. But Kushino reassures us that the shoes aren’t only to look at. They are fundamentally wearable footwear which, in Kushino’s mind, clearly separates them from standalone art objects.

I never had that much respect for how chickens looked until a house down the street burned down and the chickens who lived there took over the property. A rooster started parading up and down the street. He looked really flash. I’d love to wear him on my feet. Just to remind him who’s boss.*

*That rooster has no boss and terrifies me. Frankly, he’s a bully.


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