nerdnite presentation

So you can check out the video of my nerdnite presentation here: http://vimeo.com/22866786.  (Why embed no work? Shrug.)

The topic is consciousness and reality, the nature of story, and bad SF movies. It is kind of amusing and maybe a touch mindblowing. It is about 25 minutes long and structured in a way that you would have to watch the whole thing to follow it.

I am mostly invisible off to one side. So it goes.
You can’t hear the audience laughing – though they were – which is a bit odd since I was playing to the crowd. At any rate you will have to work out where to laugh for yourself.

It doesn’t have the Q&A afterwards, which is a shame as that seemed interesting at the time.

(The slideshow itself is at http://prezi.com/xvws90nq7rt-

if you find yourself curious about any illegibility.)

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flash” allowfullscreen=”true” allowscriptaccess=”always” width=”400″ height=”290″></embed></object><p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/22866786″>NNW5 – Consciousness and Reality, Story, and Bad SF movies</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/nerdnitewelly”>nerdnite wellington</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

list of laws National has passed under urgency this term

The Herald has posted a list of the laws National has passed under urgency in the first two years of this term. I have ranted about these as they happened – click the No Mercy For John Key category tab for more. And it has been around the blogosphere, but it is interesting that a conservative mainstream media venue is now voicing it.

This shit is sobering reading. A government which announced no policies pushing through laws based on an extreme right wing vision, without allowing any democratic process.

(Note this list doesn’t include the most recent batch, including the Copyright File Sharing one….)

Posting here mostly to have the list easily accessible for posterity.

Laws which passed under urgency without any select committee consideration between December 2008 (when National came into Government) and December 2010:

9-Dec-08: Bail Amendment Bill provided for bail to be denied if there was any risk of a defendant absconding, interfering with witnesses, or offending while on bail.

Article continues below

Education (National Standards) Amendment Bill implemented national standards in primary schools.

Employment Relations Amendment Bill introduced 90-day trial period for small companies and allowed bosses to consider KiwiSaver contributions when negotiating pay increases.

Sentencing (Offences Against Children) Amendment Bill required courts to take into account factors such as the defencelessness of victim, abuse of trust and attempts to hide the abuse when sentencing for child abuse or ill-treatment.

Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill introduced tax cuts, cut some aspects of Kiwisaver, including holding employer contribution levels at 2 per cent rather than increasing up to 4 per cent.

16-Dec-08

Energy (Fuels, Levies, And References) Biofuel Obligation Repeal Bill removed Labour’s requirement for an increasing proportion of petrol and diesel sales to be biofuels.

Electricity (Renewable Preference) Repeal Bill removed Labour’s 10-year ban on new fossil-fuelled thermal electricity generation.

17-Feb-09

Electoral Amendment Bill repealed Labour’s Electoral Finance Act and reinstated the old Electoral Act as an interim measure.

13-May-09

Local Government (Auckland Reorganisation) Bill was the first of three bills for the new Super City in Auckland. It provided for the end-date of the previous city councils, set up the Auckland Transition Agency to manage the change, and restricted the powers of the city councils until the new Auckland Council was born.

24-Nov-09

Corrections (Use of Court Cells) Amendment Bill allowed court cells to be used to house prisoners as a last resort.

Policing (Constable’s Oaths Validation) Amendment Bill was a technical bill to retrospectively validate the oaths of a swathe of police officers following a change in the swearing-in procedure.

30-Mar-10

Environment Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water Management) Bill replaced Environment Canterbury’s elected council with government appointed commissioners until 2013. Gave powers to impose a moratorium on water and discharge permits.

Immigration Act 2009 Amendment Bill brought forward the date at which implementation work could start on changes from new Immigration Act, including set up of Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

28-Apr-2010 (Extraordinary Urgency)

Excise and Excise-equivalent Duties Table (Tobacco Products) Amendment Bill increased tobacco tax in three stages.

20-May-2010

Taxation (Budget Measures) Bill increased GST to 15 per cent and cut income taxes.

22-Jun-10

Civil Aviation (Cape Town Convention and Other Matters) Amendment Bill aligned NZ law with international Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (the Cape Town Convention).

Policing (Involvement in Local Authority Elections) Amendment Bill allowed police officers to run for local council and be councillors without having to leave the Police.

14-Sep-2010: (in extended sitting hours, rather than Urgency)

Canterbury Earthquake Response Bill gave government greater powers to deal with recovery after the September earthquake. Set up the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission.

28-Oct-2010

Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Bill so-called Hobbit Bill – specified workers on film productions are independent contractors unless they specifically entered into an employment agreement.

Summary Proceedings Amendment Bill (No 2) made offences such as theft purely summary offences if the property involved was less than $500.

I would really like these guys to be voted out. Because voting them back in accepts and endorses this, and will free them for worse.

hmm

Cold. Wet. May be time to leave the country.

DJing Sunday morning

I am the guest DJ on Wake’n'Bake on Sunday, 10am-12pm.

You can listen on 88.3 FM, or, more likely, streaming on www.vbc.org.nz

I will play Interesting and Good music, according to me.

anonymous vs nz govt

Hilarious.

.

.

.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aHaJqPnynE

(I have wanted to get a V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask for ages. Even before Anonymous happened…)

speaking at nerdnite

On Monday I am a speaker at this thing http://wellington.nerdnite.com/2011/03/22/nerdnite-wellington-5/.

It should be interesting.

National Government opts to criminalise majority of its educated workforce

So, passing yet another law under urgency seems bad news, particularly a deeply unpopular one. Folks all over are talking about the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill , go read them. Heck, even Boing Boing is talking about how stupid this is.

A few brief observations:

The bill seems wildly out of step with the entire population < 50 years old, so it will be interesting if criminalising a huge sector of the voting public has much political blowback. Also, by making people’s actions criminal, it pushes them to adopt the behaviours of criminals.

For instance, use of a proxy server or other anonymised browsing (eg https://www.torproject.org/) service.

It also seems totally redundant since as soon as there is demand someone will cobble together an idiot friendly easy install protocol/package to circumvent the tracking, and it will spread virally.

Finally, I wonder if renewing the “3 strikes your internet is suspended” criteria may even be a pre-emptive strike to meet one of the requirements of the TPPA, the other IP shocker going through without enough oversight.

Copyright, IP, and creative production in the digital age are complex issues, which need addressing. Ignoring what the voting public thinks and slamming through laws under urgency, or negotiating behind closed doors, is not the way to go about it.

Sucker Punch: review

Further to my preliminary report, which I stand by, here goes:

People seem very divided by the film, which is itself an interesting sign. Any artwork that generates strong and divergent reactions has done something. Better an interesting failure than a tame success. There is certainly nothing else like it, at least, and for this it gains some measure of sympathy.

Despite finding it awful in many ways, I had a total blast getting completely off my tits and going to this movie. The trick seems to be making the movie your victim, rather than being victimised by the movie.

What do I mean by this?

People’s confusion and dislike seems to me to stem from approaching it like it is a normal film. It isn’t. It is a deranged exercise in style.

Besides, the title tells you it is a sucker punch. The tag line is you will not be prepared. This movie warns it is going to mug you.

These are clues as to how to approach the experience.

Admittedly, I went in with a very specific mindset. The following is from the email I sent to folks suggesting we should go see it as an inquiry into the death of culture:

remove the art

and the artist

leave the machine

[...]

Snyder is a self confessed technician. He translates other’s visions to the screens. He represents the philosophy of the simulacra. Remove the artist; the machine alone remains. Sucker Punch is his first original work. The machine making machine art. The machine speaking to society, a representation of our cultural essence, unmediated by artistic sensibility.

It is going to be a terrible, even catastrophic, failure; yet it retains interest and utility; for from its gargantuan rotting splayed innards we may divine the advanced state (and workings) of the disease killing our society, and perhaps even divine the terminal date of our present culture.

While overblown and tongue-in-cheek, thus was my thinking going in.

What I got was unexpected.

Here is what must be understood. Sucker Punch is not about anything. At all. It has no content. It is making no statement. It is not even trying to be about anything. It is just a bunch of stuff stuck together to be fun. There is nothing to analyse. (Okay, maybe it is about what it tells you explicitly it is about in the voice over at the start and the end that tells you the Message in Very Big Letters. Maybe. But this is so explicit it still leaves us nothing to analyse.)

It is not saying anything about female empowerment. It is not saying anything about gender dynamics. To argue along these lines misses the point worse than people who criticised Black Swan for its unrealistic depiction of ballet. (Black Swan was about a lot of things, but ballet was not one of them.)

You can analyse the parts and get angry at this movie for its representations, but doing so seems a complete waste of time. It is not representing anything about reality.

What really surprised me is that Snyder turned out to be conscious of this.

In Snyder’s own words, “the goal of the film is to tell an artistic story that is not bound by reality or anything like that”.

And it does. In the process, it force-feeds us our culture, reflecting it back to us. Music videos? Yeah man. Computer games? Yeah man! Hot chicks in skimpy outfits kicking ass? YEAH MAN! Dragons and machine guns and samurai and zepellins and fuck yes everything all at once? FUCK YEAH MAN!

Sucker Punch is a mirror to our wayward culture. If you don’t like it, what is it you don’t like?

Sucker Punch is here, now; our culture, our images, recycling regurgitating feeding back; the emptiness of our culture in an endless loop of noise. It takes the surface-obsession of culture to its zenith, trapping us in an infinite hall of mirrors, with a pulsating soundtrack of repurposed hooks.

(Snyder again:”…someone asked me, why did you dress the girls like that? And I said, I didn’t dress them that way, you did. That’s what pop culture demands, not me. And that’s fun for me — I love that when confronted with the exact formula that they request, they get all freaked out by it…”)

Letting the machine make machine art had an unexpected consequence. A weird genius emerges. It becomes a contemplation of the void, of the degree to which we are lost, the unfathomable disconnection from anything real that we immerse ourselves in. And this is an unexpectedly entertaining process.

At least in the reading of this completely off his tits reviewer.

***spoilerville***

The weirdest thing is that in all the (admittedly limited) commentary I have glimpsed no one has commented on the ending – the sucker punch – the point. Clumsily shifting the lead character, and granting the previous point of view character a dire end, is the most technically interesting thing the film does, since it violates so much of usual storytelling sensibility.

And we get an unhappy ending. It’s not even a Brazil-faux-happy ending. It’s a gruesome nasty ending. A total downer. This never happens in a big budget feel good movie. (This is exactly what Richard E Grant’s writer character wanted to do in The Player, which was reversed by Tim Robbins’ producer character to “save” the movie. Not even in fake Hollywood could that stand.) Snyder pulled it off in the real Hollywood. It doesn’t make it any good, but it is interesting that it happened.

i am blind

Chicks with Steve Buscemi’s eyes

http://chickswithstevebuscemeyes.tumblr.com/page/3

welcome to the soundtrack for your next half hour

presenting the most addictive and intuitive music interface since ballsdropping
http://mandaflewaway.tumblr.com/post/2057242738
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