Thursday, September 29, 2005

Will We Merge With Machines? - Popular Science

Will We Merge With Machines? - Popular Science:

"Telekinesis Tech
• • • 11 - 15 years
Researchers at Brown University and Cyberkinetics in Foxborough, Massachusetts, are devising brain implants that will enable us to communicate with machines. A microchip implanted in the motor cortex just beneath your skull will intercept nerve signals and reroute them to a computer, which will then wirelessly send the command to any of various electronic devices, including computers, stereos and electric wheelchairs."

An interesting article on the next generation of human-integrated technology, and how far off each piece is. More fantastical was Ray Kurzweil's article in this month's New Scientist, which pointed to the information singularity as key to Man 2.0. This is due in the next fifty years, when our (exponentially-increasing) ability to acquire, process and retain information reaches a critical point so that the collective 'we' understands pretty much everything about our world; his only fear is that government regulation will slow down our progress.

I'm reminded of those daft science books from the 1970s, which pointed to enormous egalitarian machines conducing to all our happiness and saving the planet. Our modern-day scientists are more realistic, yet still there is the oft-ignored question; "where's the profit?" Moreover, is the projected profit more than the profit from existing alternative investments? Because if it isn't, banks aren't going to put their money in and the project will remain a full-colour illustration in a kid's textbook.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

When The Weatherbot Says It's Raining...

It appears as though the arguments of linguists and philosophers are about to be answered, and that our language is to be regulated. I read in New Scientist that weathermen have been roundly condemned. A bit Wittgensteinian, but it appears that they were deriving entirely different conclusions from the same data. Apparently, their language was too fluffy, resulting in ‘morning’ varying from midnight to midday and evening taking up the whole afternoon and night, with conditions described in, well, cloudy language.

So big business, which needs accurate weather predictions to ensure the safety of its oil rigs (and their personnel, of course; there can be very expensive lawsuits if someone dies) stepped in, and now weather data is fed straight into a computer which has been programmed with a fixed syntax, meaning that morning, evening and so on are all decided and regulated. No more of “nones” varying with the dawn, now all our words must be scientifically defined. As a philosophy and economics student, I’m both happy and sad; we need concrete definitions for efficiency but we also need accuracy, which I worry about; as a writer I worry about the richness of language that is lost as the loose beauty of words is drawn down.

Find the Brownie - Journal

Find the Brownie - Journal: "Game objective

The objective of the game, as defined by NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, is to find an important government job occupied by a person with no apparent qualifications other than strong personal, political, or business ties to a member of the administration.

The game was inspired by the compliment that President Bush paid to Michael Brown, the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a few days after Hurricane Katrina had hit New Orleans. After Bush said 'Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job', reporters focused on Brown and his complete lack of qualifications for the important job he held.

As the Katrina fiasco proved, unqualified political appointees constitute a grave threat to all Americans. This blog will try to find the hidden Brownies before they cause any more harm."

We really need one of these for Quangos over here...

Hello, I must be going!

Lawks. My hits have exploded to treble figures. Thank you Kieron! I must take advantage of this historic moment to win readers by posting yet more random shite and half-formed opinion.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cthulhu Round-up.

A Shoggoth on the Roof
"There are some things that man was not meant to adapt to musical theatre, and A Shoggoth on the Roof has long been regarded as a musical that cannot and must not be produced. Since 1979, every attempt to produce this monster of a musical has ended in disaster, horror, agony and madness. Yet in spite of this hellish track record, seldom does a month pass when the HPLHS doesn't hear from some intrepid band of thespians who think they have what it takes to put A Shoggoth on the Roof. Most are never heard from again. If you're crazy enough to consider the notion, we want to hear from you."

Yes, combining Fiddler on the Roof and Lovcraft's Cthuluian Mythos gives you... Shoggoth on the roof! (I always said Cthulu was Jewish anyway; It was the curly nine-dimensional, many-angled hair that gave it away...)

Edit: Better though, is this astounding Abba parody "Do you hear the pipes, Cthulhu?"

"Do you hear the pipes, Cthulhu?
They were being played by shoggoths on the shores of Carcosa
Can you hear our prayers, Cthulhu?
Deep in sunken R'lyeh waiting for the rightness of a star?
Where the Deep Ones worship Dagon, Mother Hydra in sea chambers built afar?"

Grab the MP3

Armed Dolphins Freed By Katrina?: Science Fiction in the News

Armed Dolphins Freed By Katrina?: Science Fiction in the News:
"Accident investigator Leo Sheridan, 72, said he had received intelligence from sources close to the US government's marine fisheries service confirming dolphins had escaped.

'My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,' he said."
Which of the following do you feel generally POSITIVE or OPTIMISTIC about at the moment? (Please tick all that apply)

Your health
- No exercise, fatty food and an environs polluted with fumes and long-term untested electromagnetic emissions of all sorts, spent in an entirely sedentary manner. Doomed.

Your relationships with family
- tick, though was speaking to my stepmum this morning and sounds like her and my dad may be splitting up (why they ever got together, I don't know. Completely incompatible, both mild sociopaths. Hmm. Maybe that's why.)

Your relationships with friends
- tick; everyone in London, Bath and elsewhere is lovely, even if they don't contact me enough.

Your love life - let's not go there, forumites might be reading...

Your work or work prospects (if you work or are looking for work) - tick; though the magazine isn't what I would like it to be yet, I don't feel my own contribution's been terrible.

Your financial situation - tick strangely not bad, until the crash comes and people stop caring about games/magazines/ the service sector, my three potential sources of revenue.

The way things are going in your neighbourhood - tick; hah, the roads are a mess, the people are scary, there's more poundsavers than pounds. London's great!

The way things are going in this country - England's not going downhill, it's just never been uphill. Hideous idiots proliferate at every level of society, creating stupid rules and maintaining aoutrageously bigotted laws. But at least we're not the US, eh?

The way things are going in the world - can anyone be optimistic when half the world is starving, and the other half is on the brink of collapse due to overreliance on a single resource? Jeez. I'd better start hordeing beans.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Closely Observed Trains

On the window of my morning commuter can; Emergency Exit. If there’s an emergency that necessitates using the window to exit, then I won’t really need it to be labelled as such in said situation. I’ll be too busy climbing over people’s limbs to check what’s been officially deemed an emergency exit and what hasn’t, won’t I?

Moreover, the Guardian sign above it advertising “new opportunities” was also a misnomer – it advertised social work, teaching, human resources. If, in my life, I’m looking for something new, surely it should defy categorisation?

Hmph. Curmudgeoning, me. Must have been the weekend. I was at the most cardboard-f**king-cutout wedding at the weekend - grannies dancing on their zimmers, the bride was blushing, little kids caused a ruckus, someone's nephew was DJing, the band played hallelujah... And all the girls were born-again Christians. Not that I would have made a move otherwise, anyway. At least the bride and groom seemed happy, though I felt like my whole day (and hence the weekend) was wasted, as we felt completely redundant.     

Friday, September 23, 2005

So meejar.

Hi dan
Thanks for the offer, and I will of cpourse be buying a 360 as soon as they
turn up on import, but I try to avoid doing interviews with press or mags if
I can because I think I always come across as a bit of a cunt.


>> From: Dan Griliopoulos
>> Date: Thu, 22 Sep 2005 16:03:54 +0100
>> To: Jonathan Ross
>> Subject: Preemptive Apologies
>> ...for emailing you like this, but I'm writing from the Official Xbox
>> 360 magazine (we sell more than GQ, just less than Esquire); we'd like
>> to interview you because we know you're a big gamer (and, obviously, an
>> exemplary member of the human species.)
>> It would be a quick interview, we could do it over email or
>> face-to-face, it would be three pages in the magazine with photos, and
>> we'd incentivise you by giving you an Xbox 360. Would you be interested
>> in that?
>> Cheers,
>> Dan

I'm so meejar, darhlink.

Space Marine Cosplay

Space Marine Cosplay

Monday, September 19, 2005



An astounding little flash site, that links together all the directors of companies, their companies and several informative websites. Truly a work of genius. (Taken from Kottke.)

Color Code: A Color Portrait of the English Language

"The artwork is an interactive map of more than 33,000 words. Each word has been assigned a color based on the average color of images found by a search engine. The words are then grouped by meaning. The resulting patterns form an atlas of our lexicon."

And black is a muddy pink and white is beige and color is also a muddy green... and it's not just me being colour-blind!

Friday, September 16, 2005

CBBC Newsround | Sci/Tech | Tongue-eating bug found in fish

CBBC Newsround | Sci/Tech | Tongue-eating bug found in fish

(Don't ask why I'm reading newsround.)

BrUnO BoZzEttO - Neuro

BrUnO BoZzEttO - Neuro

Aw, sweet. A nice little flash animation for a friday afternoon. Gamers meanwhile should check out the Bone demo or this nice viral minigame...

Or if you just like Ninja Cats...

As chip speeds max out, where next?

"But if you're planning to send a computer on, say, a 10-year mission into deep space, then you need more staying power. The best option used to be to send lots of spare processors and cross your fingers. As your probe flew silently through the night, you would dream about chips that could fix themselves.

It's not crazy. A type of processor called a field programmable gate array really can recover on the fly. Invented in 1984, FPGAs don't have hardwired patterns of circuits. Instead, their wiring runs through programmable intersections called logic blocks. They're slower than ordinary chips, and until recently their high cost limited their application to rapid prototyping of chip layouts. But advances in fabrication are finally lowering the price."

The Voyager and Viking probes used a unique chip (RCA's 1802) consisting of silicon mounted on sapphire, to 'harden' it against the extremes of temperature, electrostatic discharge and radiation to be found in the vacuum. This chip has been running since the 1970s and will keep running until around 2020, when its power will fail. Why bother having self-repairing chips, when you can have ones that are reliable (rather than our weak, cheaply manufactured commercial products.)

Moreover, space, because of its inhospitality, is a place where we can try out all those strange techniques that won't work anywhere else. What are the chances of something shorting or air oxidising the parts? Small, with a vacuum when you've got a truly closed circuit. With a temperature approaching absolute zero, all those superconductive materials our scientists develop in the labs (but will work nowhere else) should work perfectly. All our computers should be in space!

Sorry, I don't know why I'm writing about this, but I find it fascinating. I'd also like to emphasise how much I want to visit Mars.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Do-It-Yourself Emergency Management Guide!

Stolen straight from Fafblog.

Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog.: "Fafblog Presents: The Do-It-Yourself Emergency Management Guide!

If you're gettin worried that the government won't be there to help you out durin the next hurricane or earthquake or terrorist attack, don't panic! Fafblog is here with our Do-It-Yourself Emergency Management Guide! Today we're gonna show you how to get through a major disaster just usin stuff you've got lyin around the home.

You will need:

# construction paper
# glue or glue sticks
# a can of baking soda
# some play-doh (optional)
# 200 gallons of distilled water and 100 pounds of canned food

Make-And-Bake Clay Levee!

Make flood prevention easy AND fun with this emergency arts and crafts project!

1. Mix some cornstarch, baking soda, and water in a large bowl. Make sure it's evenly mixed!
2. Cook over low heat, stirring for about 15 minutes
3. When your mixture starts to thicken, take it off the stove and let it cool
4. Mold into an 8 foot high 20 foot wide levee
5. Decorate with seashells and macaroni!

How to Make a Paper Helicopter

For a quick homemade evacuation you just can't beat a paper helicopter. Make one on your own with the ancient Japanese folding art of oragami! Instructional drawings below. Follow closely!

Ta-da! For best results crease edges sharply. Carries up to four passengers weighing half an ounce each or eight passengers weighing a quarter ounce each.

Do-It-Yourself National Guard!

First get some old socks. Sew on some buttons for the eyes. Use yarn for the hair but keep it trimmed short on accounta disipline! Add some felt uniforms for a touch a flair. The striped sock is the sergeant, he is gruff but loyal. The fancy dress sock is the general, he commands the others with his fabricky leadership skills! The white running sock is the medic, he doubles as a bandage when you get hit by falling rubble. Now you're all set to be escorted out of the disaster zone with your new puppet pals! Be careful, though: they're armed... with imagination."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Making Light: Folksongs Are Your Friends

Making Light: Folksongs Are Your Friends
Things I’ve learned from British folk ballads

Don’t ignore warnings. If someone tells you to beware of Long Lankin, friggin’ beware of him. If someone tells you not to go by Carterhaugh, stay away. Same goes for your mother asking you not to go out hunting on a particular day. Portents about weather, particularly when delivered by an old sailor who is not currently chatting up a country maid, are always worth heeding.

If someone says that he’s planning to kill you, believe him.

If someone says he’s going to die, believe him.

Avoid navigable waterways. Don’t let yourself be talked into going down by the wild rippling water, the wan water, the salt sea shore, the strand, the lowlands low, the Burning Thames, and any area where the grass grows green on the banks of some pool. Cliffs overlooking navigable waterways aren’t safe either.

Broom, as in the plant, should be given a wide berth.

Stay away from the greenwood side, too.

Avoid situations where the obvious rhyme-word is “maidenhead.”

If you look at the calendar and discover it’s May, stay home.

The flowing bowl is best quaffed at home. Don’t drink with strangers. Don’t drink alone. Don’t toss the cups or pass the jar about in bars where you haven’t arranged to keep a tab. Drinks of unusual or uncertain provenance should be viewed askance, especially if you’re offered them by charming members of the opposite sex. Finally, never get drunk and pass out in a bar called the “Cape Horn.”

Members of press gangs seldom tell the truth. Recruiting sergeants will fib to you shamelessly. They are not your friends, even if they’re buying the drinks. Especially when they’re buying the drinks.

If you’re drinking toasts, mention your One True Love early and often.

If you’re a young lady, dressing yourself in men’s array and joining the army or the navy has all sorts of comic possibilities, but you yourself aren’t going to find it too darned humorous at the time.

If you are an unmarried lady and have sex, you will get pregnant. No good will come of it."

And so on. Quality stuff.

Football Season Is Over - Hunter S. Thompson note reveals despair - Sep 8, 2005: "'No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt.'"

The note entitled "Football Season Is Over" that Hunter S. Thompson left his wife, shortly before he committed suicide. From Warren Elli's blog, as is

Thursday, September 08, 2005

All Hallow's Eve 2004

Kieron Gillen’s Workblog Halloween 2004

Cor I forgot about this; I went as "The Ghost of Harry Hill". I don't remember much beyond drunken stumbling and my friend Terence, my friend Emma and myself having to be woken up after his weed proved stronger than we could have possibly imagined.

First Post!

:: The First Post ::

Despite it's oddly l337 name, this is a definitive website offering multiple perspectives on politics, society and so on, just like but in readable chunks. Check out David Copperfield's contribution on policing in the UK for an example.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Warning For Today.

Groundbreaking Research Sheds Light on Ancient Mystery
"A researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology is unraveling a mystery surrounding Easter Island. William Basener, assistant professor of mathematics, has created the first mathematical formula to accurately model the island’s monumental societal collapse.

Between 1200 and 1500 A.D., the small, remote island, 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, was inhabited by over 10,000 people and had a relatively sophisticated and technologically advanced society. During this time, inhabitants used large boats for fishing and navigation, constructed numerous buildings and built many of the large statues, known as Tiki Gods, for which the island is now best known. However, by the late 18th century, when European explorers first discovered the island, the population had dropped to 2,000 and islanders were living in near primitive conditions, with almost all elements of the previous society completely wiped out.

“The reasons behind the Easter Island population crash are complex but do stem from the fact that the inhabitants eventually ran out of finite resources, including food and building materials, causing a massive famine and the collapse of their society,” Basener says. “Unfortunately, none of the current mathematical models used to study population development predict this sort of growth and quick decay in human communities.”"

So Easter island ran out of wood and died. We also think that the Mayan civilisation ran out of clean drinking water and died of disease. Heavy reliance on single resources can lead to the extinction of thriving civilisations; our single resource is oil.

(EDIT) I've just remember that Larry Niven's Ringworld (which I read a couple of weeks ago) has a similar conclusion; the fantastic civilisation of the Ringworld becomes derelict after the people living there 'forget' (i.e. the systems become so automated no-one understands the complete process) how to manipulate atoms cheaply, meaning as soon as the vital component supplying power to the ringworld fails, everything collapses at once. A good metaphor for oil, if pure space-opera.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Uncyclopedia / Wikipaedia.


Uncyclopedia / Wikipedia definition flamewar! Who wins?

Uncyclopedia, which aims to be the "encyclopedia of politically incorrect non-information", is a parody of Wikipedia, although Uncyclopedia claims the reverse.

Wikipedia (also spelt "Wikipaedia" and sometimes they get all snooty and use one of these things, "æ" like this:"Wikipædia") is a dangerous parody of Uncyclopedia, the online encyclopedia written by Oscar Wilde.

Uncyclopedia entries often are nonsensical, with little or no resemblance to reality. For example, the Algorithm entry from Uncyclopedia claims that algorithm is a term for "Al Gore getting his groove on." The Al Gore entry states that it is currently unavailable, and suggests that Al Gore might need to re-invent the Internet.

In contrast to Uncyclopedia, which strives to be as fractious as possible, Wikipedia entries occasionally reach consensus, and range from nonsensical to biased to subversive, with little or no resemblance to the truth. However, because of its parodic nature, some people find it informative as it reveals at least something about how people think about certain topics, albeit in an ironic sense.

Uncyclopedia wins! It has better pictures!