MonthJune 2007

Trevor Blake on Pride Day and where work really needs to be done for gay rights

Where work is needed most is not same-sex marriage, nor renters rights, nor lessening job discrimination, or passing ‘hate speech’ laws. These just aren’t the most important or terrible things happening to homosexuals right now. The most important and terrible thing happening right now is that homosexual men (and sometimes women) are being put to death in Islamic countries. Being stoned to death really and truly is worse than being called a faggot, no matter what cultural relativists may have to say on the subject. All things are related but all things are not equally related. Efforts to make this a better world should continue in many areas, but “people being killed to appease an invisible monster that lives in the sky” trumps what I think much of the West pays attention to on Pride day. That noise about respecting diversity and honoring ancient traditions and the hands-off policy religion gets? That’s all over now. When people stop dying, we can play nice-nice with theists again.

Full Story: American Samizdat.

Music played on a Tesla coil

This is a solid-state Tesla coil. The primary runs at its resonant frequency in the 41 KHz range, and is modulated from the control unit in order to generate the tones you hear.

So just to explain a little further, yes, it is the actual high voltage sparks that are making the noise. Every cycle of the music is a burst of sparks at 41 KHz, triggered by digital circuitry at the end of a “long” piece of fiber optics.

What’s not immediately obvious in this video is how loud this is. Many people were covering their ears, dogs were barking. In the sections where the crowd is cheering and the coils is starting and stopping, you can hear the the crowd is drowned out by the coil when it’s firing.

This Tesla coil was built and is owned by Steve Ward. Steve is a EE student at U of I Urbana-Champaign. He and Jeff have been going to Teslathons, which is where they met.

It’s been suggested that a good name for this coil would be the “Zeusaphone”. “Thoremin” has also been mentioned, though personally I think we need Theramin type inputs for that.

To answer a few questions I’ve received, YES, someone did yell “Play Freebird!” after the first round of music.

Do We Need to Regulate Dead Men’s Sperm?

Caplan also notes that children have been born using sperm taken from the still warm bodies of men who died unexpectedly. With the advent of egg freezing, dead women may also be able to become posthumous parents in the future.

But why do we need regulation in this area? Have there been abuses? If so, Caplan cites none in his column. Men who freeze sperm might be presumed to want children and in fact, most of them have probably left written instructions on what do with their reproductive remains. If a man hasn’t left any explicit instructions, the decision should be left up to the next of kin–wives or parents. The same thing goes for for taking sperm from men who suddenly drop dead.

Full Story: Hit and Run.

Physical Wisdom – Kundalini Manual pdf

PDF.

The Hilary Soprano clip

Douglas Rushkoff thinks the Hillary Soprano ad fails because:

Hilary Clinton put herself in the role of Tony Soprano. He is a sociopath and a killer, willing to do anything for power. Why would a candidate present herself in such a role? […] Hilary and Bill Clinton have just made sure we equate Hilary’s ambitions and life with that of Tony Soprano (or, worse, Carmela – a woman who suffered her husband’s affairs in order to maintain the right to spend the capital he accumulates. Sound familiar?)

But the thing is… America LOVES Tony Soprano. Actually, America loves gangsters. Mostly fictional ones, sure. But also real ones, like John Gotti. They’re tough, ruthless, but for some reason… likable. Why wouldn’t the Clintons want to position themselves as a mob family? It’s a lot sexier than being a political dynasty. Plus, it sends a clear message to Clinton’s competitors.

Don’t me wrong, I think the ad sucks for a number of reasons. But association with the Sopranos isn’t one of them.

Social network wars – Facebook & class, Myspace & music, and Friendster’s not dead yet

I’ve been meaning to comment on Abe’s comments on my Myspace vs. Friendster post, but now comes along something else interesting:

Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace by danah boyd.

This is well done and interesting. I’ve got nothing to argue with here, per se. But what’s interesting to me is that Facebook has only been open to anyone since September. Now that everyone can sign up, will it remain a status-symbol social network? Any my point about control remains. If Facebook gives users more options and Myspace tries to force everyone to use their tools, will people stick around? People choose Myspace over Friendster* because it was less restrictive.

It’s also worth noting that teens under 18 only make up 12% of Myspace users. But some of the same social stratification may apply for older users as well. I signed up for Facebook in September because several friends of mine who were in college around 2005 use Facebook exclusively. People who aren’t in college and don’t know anyone in college are less likely to want to sign up because the networks for them are smaller.

As to Abe’s point about Myspace and music… I think Myspace will continue to be relevant for musicians, actually. It’s one area where Myspace is genuinely useful. I’ve been using it to book acts for esoZone. But before I started book musicians, there was nothing that Myspace offered me in terms of music that I needed to be registered user for, other than updates from the bands and the signal to noise ratio got pretty bad.

*Looks like Friendster might not be dead after all.

Taxidermia, Magic Realism and Hypersigils

Taxidermia is a magic realist story spanning across three generations of a Hungarian family, focusing on the three male primal urges: sex, food and bodily prowess. It’s weird, off beat and you should definitely check it out if you’re into high weirdness .

Magic realism is a fusion of the external factors of human existence and the internal ones to more accurately depict human reality. Using obscurities, magick, symbolism and myths the fiction is able to incorporate aspects of human existence such as thoughts, emotions, dreams and imagination.

Now I know the concept of a hypersigil can be a bit clich?, but the idea’s and techniques used in magical realism could be very usefull if you were so inclined to create said device .

I found these pages on the subject of magic realism quite helpfull:
Magic Realism- Wikipedia
Sarah Orne Jewett
The Bible as Magical Realism

Shpongle Divine Moments of Truth – live video

And check out this fan-made video mashing up Star Shpongled Banner and Fantastic Planet:

Astronomers look to quark stars for a fifth dimension

If the universe has weird extra-spatial dimensions in parallel to the 3D world we see around us, then billion-dollar particle accelerators may not be the only place to find them.

Objects in Cygnus X-3 are under extreme gravity, which the researchers say would provide the necessary conditions for extra dimensions to affect matter.

Full Story: New Scientist.

The Happiness Project

New blog on happiness:

I’m working on a book, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT–a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier.

The Happiness Project.

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