Sunday Mutants

Introducing what may well become a regular feature: Sunday Mutants.

Twitter makes most sense to me as a feed of what interesting people are thinking about, rather than a conversation/social thing (which I think only really makes sense for people working office jobs at the same time.) It is really quite amazing that you can sit on these people’s shoulders in this way and see what they are looking at, so to speak. Still, it is too much information, and most of it I don’t have time to engage with.

I have several twitter lists, making it functional. One for locals, one for thinkers, one for feeds. And one for mutants.

The mutants list is reserved for people who are way ahead of the curve in whatever field they are in. High grade information. Premium crack.

So the Sunday Mutants posts will probably be a linkfest from the far reaches, as, once a week or so, I read and curate the mutants tweets, tracking the bleeding edge of transformation underway in the world. (And throw in any extra stuff that otherwise will lag behind blogging.)

This is a couple of week’s worth.

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* For starters, this Foreign Policy article is one of the most interesting things I have read in ages: Beyond City Limits. Basically arguing that megacities evolving into relatively independent city-states is where we are heading.

* Increasing trend that the TV and the landline telephone are no longer perceived as necessities of life by the public. (More detail emerges in the demographics.)

* Ray Kurzweil does not understand the brain. Pretty sharply pointed argument that transhumanist/downloading consciousness arguments are based on woeful understanding/abstractions of how the brain works.
[EDIT: Kurzweil's response. Cheers, Steve.]

* More on the conscious distortion of our social filters on reality: pro Israel groups offering courses in Zionist editing for wikipedia. (Interesting in the wake of a conservative cabal voting down stories it doesn’t like on Digg based on ideology that I blogged last week.)

* Wired interview with Steve Jobs from ten years ago.

Q: Then how will the Web impact our society?

We live in an information economy, but I don’t believe we live in an information society. People are thinking less than they used to. It’s primarily because of television. People are reading less and they’re certainly thinking less. So, I don’t see most people using the Web to get more information. We’re already in information overload. No matter how much information the Web can dish out, most people get far more information than they can assimilate anyway.

Q: The problem is television?

When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.

There is actually tonnes of interesting stuff in this.

* Oh yeah. All this e-book, e-reader stuff? All that matters is what the kids learn to read on. Obvious when pointed out. The long game is over.

Last rites of Studio Nine

Seemed like there should have been more people there to dance it out in an old stamping ground. Hadn’t been there for aaages, and a flood of impressions and memories came back. End of an era. Something amazing happened there a decade back. At least it seemed that way. Long gone, long gone. Everything changes. And now. And now?

Review: Katydid @ Bats

Another offering from the ever-interesting Playground Collective.

Katydid focuses on a young woman with cerebral palsy who wants to escape the family home, and her parents, isolated from each other and the outside world, who are being driven into the ground caring for her. They get a young man in as extra help to care for her, spurring change in the closed dynamics.

It is really good. Lots of it is no fun. Partly because the tensions of caregiving within the family are all too familiar to me, and the writer clearly has firsthand experience of it. Katydid explores an emotionally devastated wasteland of family relations around the largely closed off world of living with disabilities, and teases out the shades of gray really well. It balances all this out with enough genuine humour to make it tolerable.

On reflection I have issue with its third act, but on the whole this is one of the very best pieces of local theatre I’ve seen, with some fearless performances. It is only on a couple more days, though may return? At any rate the Saturday matinee show is probably the only one with tickets left now…

an odd intense 24 hours

* wrote my first piece of fiction in several years and submitted it somewhere

* made what felt like a majorish life decision; a hard one, anyway, in terms of thinking it out

* went to my first ever dance class; interesting

* submitted finished documentary to crucial festival

* probably should have slept more

go the full moon, I guess.

machine that turns plastic into oil

Read that headline again.
Holy fucking shit.

YouTube Preview Image

So simple, so brilliant.
There is hope.

Combust In Unity

So, that documentary the moose has been making? It is done. After a lengthier than anticipated process full of learnings, we have final cut, and are ready to submit to festivals and whatnot.

You can find the official (though somewhat beta) website here: combust in unity. That would be the place to check for progress reports and updates.

You can view the first trailer (again, a bit beta) there.

Or below.

Feel free to get all viral on this… :)

(Holy, shit, I’ve made a movie. Feels a little abstract.)

Reading 2010 vol 5

Didn’t do a lot of reading while working and on the road…

God’s Mountain – Erri De Luca

Picked this up quite at random from the library. A delightful light coming of age fable, gorgeously written; sort of warm and fuzzy without sucking.

Save the Cat – Blake Snyder

Pragmatic practical book on screenwriting for commercial success. Both a map of everything that is wrong with a Hollywood movie, and a description of why they are that way (they work, and make $$). Both loved and hated it, and would definitely and strongly recommend it to screenwriting types. It certainly changed the way I think about movies, and to an extent, stories.

Neuromancer – William Gibson

A rare re-read. Was probably at least 13-15 years since I read it the first time. At that time, it didn’t have much impact – I read it after Count Zero and Burning Chrome, and it all blurred together, diluting the originality of vision. I didn’t get why the legend status.

This time, I was surprised by how fresh it felt. A lot of the detail and references that would have washed over my younger self made sense, and the curve it was way ahead along at the time stands out. I enjoyed the first half a lot, the characters, setting and setup – the Straylight run itself was just the working out of things, and less interesting. Its influence on SF and culture since becomes clear, as do its influences – Alfred Bester looms heavily in the background.

But yeah. Good shit. Think I still prefer Pattern Recognition as a novel, but now I ‘get’ Neuromancer. (And what the hell was Gibson on when he wrote this?)

Shadows in the Sun – Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire by Wade Davis.

Wade Davis is fucking amazing. Have been binging on him lately, because it is just so good. I highly recommend his 2009 Massey lectures and TED talks.

This collection so far contains the best essay I’ve ever read on Haiti/voodoo, one of the best essays on shamanism I’ve ever read, and a pretty excellent one on psychedelics…

Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky

The intersections and evolution of social media, communications tools, and group behaviour. Skimmable but brilliant and necessary if you are interested in this area. (Looking at you, Morgue.)

pkd quotes

“How does one fashion a book of resistance, a book of truth in an empire of falsehood, ora book of rectitude in an empire of vicious lies? How does one do this right in front of the enemy?

Not through the old-fashioned ways of writing while you’re in the bathroom, but how does one do that in a truly future technological state? Is it possible for freedom and independence to arise in new ways under new conditions? That is, will new tyrannies abolish these protests? Or will there be new responses by the spirit that we can’t anticipate?”

- Philip K Dick, in interview, 1974

“The basic premise dominating my stories is that if I ever met an extraterrestrial intelligence (more commonly called a “creature from outer space”) I would find I had more to say to it than to my next-door neighbor. What the people on my block do is bring in their newspaper and mail and drive off in their cars. They have no other outdoor habits except mowing their lawns. I went next door one time to check into the indoor habits. They were watching TV. Could you, in writing a sf novel, postulate a culture on these premises? Surely such a society doesn’t exist, except maybe in my imagination. And there isn’t much imagination involved.

The way out of living in the middle of an under-imaginative figment is to make contact, in your own mind, with other civilisations as yet unborn.”

- from ‘afterthought by the author’, the best of philip k dick

tweets and links roundup

Just since my web presence is a bit dispersed, and Twitter vanishes, here are some things I tweeted in the past week, plus some links of note:

Massive Censorship Of Digg Uncovered http://bit.ly/dcFuF8

(This is actually pretty interesting – a cabal of conservatives acting to vote down anything they don’t like the look of. Reveals the vulnerability of our meta-filter information systems.)

Coca-Cola: “No Consumer Could Reasonably Be Misled into Thinking Vitaminwater Was a Healthy Beverage” http://bit.ly/bBs4HS

(exactly what it sounds like, the head exploding contradictions of modern life)

Google and Verizon moving to strike first blow against #netneutrality http://nyti.ms/dfXt9k

(this has been everywhere since, with good analysis; this was an earlier report if you don’t know of this, you should. the future of your internets at stake.)

5 social media lies that must die.

http://www.audiblehype.com/blogs/business/2010/aug/03/top-5-social-media-lies/

(Excellent piece, by 37 of brainsturbator fame)

Many of the oldest Japanese are dead or missing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/world/asia/15japan.html?_r=1&src=tp

(just kinda wtf.)

A few US/economic doom notes:

US infrastructure needs 2.2 trillion to fix, say US architects group. http://www.archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=3164

US student loan debt now greater than credit card debt http://cryptogon.com/?p=16946

(One of them indicators of total inner gastro-economic rotting.)

US about to cross rubicon of economic collapse http://cryptogon.com/?p=16997

crossing the 90% debt/GDP threshold is the equivalent of crossing the proverbial Rubicon of economic growth. It’s a point from which it’s almost impossible to return.”

(whee. only so much cryptogon one can handle if one wishes to remain in the oblivious bubble.)

So yeah. A wee round-up of random Things of the World.

Eeep.

Realisations for today:

1) It really has been over a dozen years since I set up a web page, and no, I really don’t know anything anymore.

2) Somewhere in the past year’s random noodling, my guitaring has gotten significantly better.

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