Tagweird_shit

New Age for Nihilists

The_Road_bleak_scenery

Warren Ellis has identified and named something of a Ballardian inversion of the rather Gibsonian New Aesthetic: Extinction Aesthetic.

Extinction Symbol. Dark Extropianism. Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Dark Mountain. Uncivilisation. In The Dust Of This Planet. Health Goth. Accelerationism. After Nature/Dark Ecology/Ecognosis. Early signals: The New Nihilism, Speculative Realism, Neoreaction, Occulture. Cusp: Toxic Internet. Post-Westphalian.

Full Story: morning.computer: Extinction Aesthetic

The Morlocks/Omegas from X-Men: Last Stand

  • Amused to see healthgoth and neoreaction cited as part of the same current.
  • This brings to mind the new season of Utopia (the British conspiracy thriller, not the American reality show)
  • My imagined soundtrack: Bruxa. The Soft Moon. Burial. Zomby. Kode9. Sunn 0))). Karin Dreijer Andersson. Cult of Zir. Sister Mamie Foreskin.
  • If Minecraft is New Aesthetic, what is the Extinction Aesthetic equivalent?

See also:

Radiolab on In The Dust Of This Planet

Dark Theory

Post-Nihilism

Speculative Non-Buddhism

extinction symbol

Update: Ellis chimes in on Twitter: “Extinction Aesthetic equiv of Minecraft is A Dark Room, it suddenly & amusingly occurs to me.” (Presumably referring to this game).

These tiny scorpions would like to perform an important inspection of your old book collection, please

Book scorpion

Scientific American reports on the horrifying ecosystem of old books:

Book scorpions are the best/worst thing to happen to books, because book scorpions! But also book scorpions…

Properly known as pseudoscorpions, these tiny, tiny creatures have a fondness for old books, because old books also happen to contain delicious booklice and dust mites. And they’re really not book scorpions… at all because they can’t hurt us, and they’ve basically been performing a free pest control service since humans started stacking excessive numbers of dusty, bound-together piles of paper along our walls and nightstands. This arrangement works because old book-makers used to bind books using a starch-based glue that booklice and dust mites love, so without a healthy population of book scorpions patrolling your collection, those gross parasites are probably having a horrible, silent field-day chewing them all apart.

Full Story: These tiny scorpions would like to perform an important inspection of your old book collection, please

(via Matt Staggs)

The strange building in the Mojave desert designed by an alien

Integraton

I think this probably counts as psychetecture. The New York Times reports:

Three miles south of Giant Rock, across a scrubby expanse, you will find an even more extraordinary sight: a circular, dome-topped building, 38 feet tall and 55 feet in diameter, constructed by Van Tassel over the course of nearly two decades in accordance with the instructions of his extraterrestrial architectural patron. A sign above the gated entrance to the property proclaims the name that Van Tassel gave to his time machine: the Integratron.

“It’s the most amazing structure I’ve ever seen,” says Joanne Karl, who bought the building 14 years ago with her sisters Nancy and Patty. In fact, the Integratron is a sort of time machine, or at least a time capsule. It is an immaculately preserved artifact of midcentury modernist design, and a totem of 1950s U.F.O.-ology culture — the mixture of Cold War paranoia and occult spirituality that drew true believers to remote reaches of the Desert Southwest in search of flying saucers and free-floating enlightenment. Under the ownership of the Karls, it has become a unique tourist destination: perhaps the oddest spot in a very odd corner of the world, a magnet for new generations of spiritual questers and for the just plain curious. “Nobody comes to the Integratron and just shrugs,” says Joanne. “You don’t leave and say, ‘Oh, that was nothing.’ ”

Full Story: New York Times: Welcome to the Integraton

(via Jen Fong-Adwent)

See also: the work of Paul Laffoley.

Check out my noise art installation at the Weird Shift gallery in Portland

Weird Shift installation

Above is a look at my interactive noise art installation at the Weird Shift gallery in Portland, Oregon. I call it “Experiments in Psychetecture.” I don’t want to give too much away, and I’m feeling lazy about trying to describe it. But here’s the basic idea behind it:

Typically, a Psychetect performance would consist of me playing with this ensemble in front of a group of people. But I’ve never been entirely comfortable with this arrangement, since to me the main work that goes into the piece isn’t the final improvisation that goes with a setup, but the construction of a setup. This installation gives me the opportunity to simply let the people formally known as the listeners perform for themselves, while cutting me out of this finally step entirely.

But if you want to hear a performance using it, Weird Shift co-organizer Adam Rothstein made a recording with it that’s available as part of the first episode of Weird Shift Radio, which you can download here.

To play with it yourself, visit the Weird Shift gallery:

201 N. Alberta St
North Portland, Cascadia
97217

Weekdays: 3pm – 9pm
Saturday & Sunday: 1pm – 4pm

It’s closed today to setup new works, but will be open again tomorrow and my piece should be there until the end of the month, or until it breaks, whichever comes first.

(Special thanks to Justin Landers for the use of the drum cymbal and Nolan Ashley for the use of the Korg NanoKontrol)

Atheletes may have trained their brains to create “time warps”

Shower head

BBC reports:

It started as a headache, but soon became much stranger. Simon Baker entered the bathroom to see if a warm shower could ease his pain. “I looked up at the shower head, and it was as if the water droplets had stopped in mid-air”, he says. “They came into hard focus rapidly, over the course of a few seconds”. Where you’d normally perceive the streams as more of a blur of movement, he could see each one hanging in front of him, distorted by the pressure of the air rushing past. The effect, he recalls, was very similar to the way the bullets travelled in the Matrix movies. “It was like a high-speed film, slowed down.” [...]

What’s more, Valtteri Arstila at University of Turku, Finland, points out that many of these subjects also report abnormally quick thinking. As one pilot, who’d faced a plane crash in the Vietnam War, put it: “when the nose-wheel strut collapsed I vividly recalled, in a matter of about three seconds, over a dozen actions necessary to successful recovery of flight attitude”. Reviewing the case studies and available scientific research on the matter, Arstila concludes that an automatic mechanism, triggered by stress hormones, might speed up the brain’s internal processing to help it handle the life or death situation. “Our thoughts and initiation of movements become faster – but because we are working faster, the external world appears to slow down,” he says. It is even possible that some athletes have deliberately trained themselves to create a time warp on demand: surfers, for instance, can often adjust their angle in the split second it takes to launch off steep waves, as the water rises overhead.

Full Story: BBC: The man who saw time stand still

(Thanks Bill!)

A Weird Hum Is Driving People Insane — And Nobody Knows What’s Causing It

The Hum

Jared Keller writes:

“The Hum” refers to a mysterious sound heard in places around the world by a small fraction of a local population. It’s characterized by a persistent and invasive low-frequency rumbling or droning noise often accompanied by vibrations. While reports of “unidentified humming sounds” pop up in scientific literature dating back to the 1830s, modern manifestations of the contemporary hum have been widely reported by national media in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia since the early 1970s.

Regional experiences of the phenomenon vary, and the Hum is often prefixed with the region where the problem centers, like the “Windsor Hum” in Ontario, Canada, the “Taos Hum” in New Mexico, or the “Auckland Hum” for Auckland, New Zealand. Somewhere between 2 and 10% of people can hear the Hum, and inside isolation is no escape. Most sufferers find the noise to be more disturbing indoors and at night. Much to their dismay, the source of the mysterious humming is virtually untraceable.

Full Story: Policy.Mic: A Mysterious Sound Is Driving People Insane — And Nobody Knows What’s Causing It

(Thanks Skry)

See also:

The Hum (Wikipedia)

A website dedicated to the Hum

The World Hum Map and Database

Data Doppelgängers and the Uncanny Valley of Personalization

Sara Watson writes:

“What is it about my data that suggests I might be a good fit for an anorexia study?” That’s the question my friend Jean asked me after she saw this targeted advertisement on her Facebook profile: [...]

She came up with a pretty good hypothesis. Jean is an MIT computer scientist who works on privacy programming languages. Because of her advocacy work on graduate student mental health, her browsing history and status updates are full of links to resources that might suggest she’s looking for help. Maybe Facebook inferred what Jean cares about, but not why.

Days later, I saw a similar ad. Unlike Jean, I didn’t have a good explanation for why I might have been targeted for the ad, which led me to believe that it could be broadly aimed at all women between the ages of 18 and 45 in the greater Boston area. (When I clicked to learn more about the study, this was listed as the target demographic.)

Still, it left us both with the unsettling feeling that something in our data suggests anorexia

Full Story: Data Doppelgängers and the Uncanny Valley of Personalization

See also: Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out:
The scary future of digital gerrymandering—and how to prevent it

Google Admits to Being Behind the Webdriver Torso Mystery

Webdriver Torso

I hadn’t seen this last week when I posted about Webdriver Torso, but the BBC reports that Google has admitted to being behind the weird YouTube channel:

In an official statement, Google said: “We’re never gonna give you uploading that’s slow or loses video quality, and we’re never gonna let you down by playing YouTube in poor video quality.

“That’s why we’re always running tests like Webdriver Torso.”

Its light-hearted statement echoes 1980s pop star Rick Astley’s hit song Never Gonna Give You Up in reference to a recent Webdriver Torso video which showed the singer in silhouette.

Full Story: BBC: Google behind Webdriver Torso mystery

(Thanks Deb)

Actually, I think Google did let us down, but ruining the fun of speculating what the channel is actually about. But yes, the truth is also pretty interesting. Who would have thought test patterns would make the jump to streaming internet video?

What is Webdriver Torso?

Boing Boing calls it the numbers station of the internet. But no one knows for sure. The vast majority of the 80,000+ videos on this mysterious YouTube channel are like the one above: 10 slides in eleven seconds. But there are some… notable exceptions:

The Onion AV Club sums up the speculation:

But the most intriguing mystery by far is the channel’s origins. No one has stepped forward to claim credit for Webdriver Torso; earlier this month, The Guardian thought they had explained the mystery as a series of test patterns used by a European telecom company, but that turned out to be a dead end. Now all eyes are on Google as Webdriver Torso conspiracy theorists claim to have traced the channel back to Google’s offices in Zurich. YouTube’s themed search results for the channel could be seen as a tacit admission of guilt, as could the one comment Webdriver Torso has ever left on a video: “Matei is highly intelligent.” Could the Matei in question be Google Senior Research Scientist/robotics expert Matei Ciocarlie? Is Google developing a sentient YouTube channel that will one day rise up and enslave us all? Is Webdriver Torso secretly communicating with extraterrestrial life? Is it issuing commands to brainwashed operatives à la The Manchurian Candidate? Or maybe, just maybe, is this just some mundane technical exercise that Google isn’t bothering to explain because conspiracy theories are hilarious? Who knows.

Full Story: Onion AV Club: “Webdriver Torso” is either something incredibly sinister or nothing at all

(via Tim Maly)

Update: Turns out Google admitted to being behind this just days before I published this post.

Relax, the U.S. Military is Ready to Prevent the Zombie Apocalypse

960zombies_01

Apparently not a hoax, Foreign Policy reports:

Buried on the military’s secret computer network is an unclassified document, obtained by Foreign Policy, called “CONOP 8888.” It’s a zombie survival plan, a how-to guide for military planners trying to isolate the threat from a menu of the undead — from chicken zombies to vegetarian zombies and even “evil magic zombies” — and destroy them.

“This plan fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve ‘non-zombie’ humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde,” CONOP 8888’s plan summary reads. “Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population — including traditional adversaries.”

[...]

Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for Strategic Command, acknowledged the document exists on a “secure Internet site” but took pains to explain that the zombie survival guide is only a creative endeavor for training purposes. “The document is identified as a training tool used in an in-house training exercise where students learn about the basic concepts of military plans and order development through a fictional training scenario,” she wrote in an email. “This document is not a U.S. Strategic Command plan.”

Full Story: Foreign Policy: The Pentagon Has a Plan to Stop the Zombie Apocalypse. Seriously.

You can read the full document on Scribd.

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