critical reading for the rude

ironic design

CSven had me going

Usually when I surf through the CGTalk forum I see plenty of creativity when it comes to character design, but when it comes to products/objects what I find are mostly attempts to model real world designs. There are plenty of Mercedes this and Ferrari that, but relatively speaking very few original product designs. Thus it’s difficult to not appreciate Kadeg Boucher’s “stupid object #1 : Lawn Mower schumacher” (shown above). What a great piece. For more images, check out the thread on CGTalk (Link).

I was all ready for him to launch into how great it is that the piece is such an excellent joke — that the irony ought to make us a little sad — that the designer is really clever to play on the red-state tension of wanting to zoom-fast-ride-the-hell-out-of-here-like-#3 but is always just stuck… mowing the yard. Clock in, clock out. Going to church. Catching the big race on teevee… never really going anywhere new.

But I don’t think that’s what he was getting at…

Boucher’s fanciful effort once again makes me wonder why corporations – in this case MTD, Toro, Snapper, John Deere and the rest – don’t add a little more flair to their products. To my consumer eye, those riding lawnmowers all look so… plain vanilla. This reminds me of those urban vinyl ketchup and mustard bottle sculptures that made regular condiment bottles seem excruciatingly stale.

This device is not fun — it’s scary. It reminds me for some reason of the Garth Ennis piece from Preacher about the Sheriff’s son who shot himself.

I think the Boucher mower’s title says it all — it’s stupid and really funny because of its stupidity. This mower’s design is great in its black humor. It’s a kind of Steven Barthelme joke. It’s great because it makes us laugh a little and feel sad a little at the same time.

Because it does that so well that it’s a total success. It’s not a success because it has “flair”.


November 16, 2007 Posted by | blogs, books | , , | Leave a comment

google cse: silversword

find yourself exhausted in the search for quality commentary on the grimoire of Pope Honorius? don’t fret. here’s a tool for those hard to reach “occult” places, when you get tired of stumbling over flaky sites selling chintzy trinkets:

‘silversword occult search’

September 21, 2007 Posted by | books, info sci, occult, search | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

while i was out: gibson in sl

From earlier in the Summer:

Short feature about William Gibson’s SL appearance.  “If you ever run into me in Second Life, I hope I won’t look quite so much like Quentin Tarantino.  Thank you.”

September 10, 2007 Posted by | books, video | Leave a comment


reBang blog writes about PerfectBook:

What I wonder is whether the public will fully grasp the potential impact that such technology might have on their day-to-day lives. Will they both be aware and understand the significance of stories such as those surrounding, for example, the final Harry Potter book (e.g. scanned copies uploaded to the internet or unauthorized translations)? Will they make the connection between the current Flickr controversy and this kind of technology? What happens when those same amateur photographers discover people using their photos to create calenders for sale on Lulu? When it’s their work being passed around – when someone else is making money from their effort – will attitudes change?

August 10, 2007 Posted by | books, info sci, libraries, making | Leave a comment

writing typing fonts

I reckon a book or a blog needs to carry on with that rhythm, page to page, post to post,  and carry it on with pictures and colors (whenever used) and sounds (both audio and in terms of the “sound” of the words used, the prosody) and maybe some other attributes I’m not thinking of.  Like tone and attitude.

Font becomes library.

July 18, 2007 Posted by | blogs, books, writing | 1 Comment

open library

more on this later.

thanks, Deb.

|update|  reminds me — see seadragon demo too.

July 17, 2007 Posted by | books, libraries | 1 Comment

head in the past

“Driving while looking in the rear-view mirror”. McLuhan, wasn’t it? Well that’s me. Responding to yesterday… or, at best, today.

Some folks think I’m some kind of radical technophile. My boss lady recently expressed surprise that I have books in my house. Said she reckoned that I’d stow all my needed media on a nice machine. But I like bookshelves. Paperbacks going brittle and yellow. Something about knowing that the book has a limited number of reads in it. How many times will this book get read by me and my wife and my son before it finally goes to loose pages and crumbly bits in one of our hands? I like that. Being in the cycle. Earth to tree to page to brain to dust blown back out into the yard, to Earth. My son will read books his great-grandad sends. These here ideas were important enough to me to send them forward in time to you.

Here’s an Elric adventure that smells like pipe smoke.

I can’t catch up, though. The newest music? Forget about it. I’m listening to My Bloody Valentine and John Cale and Digable Planets and the Cocteau Twins. I’ve heard of the Flaming Lips. I’ve heard Luke Vibert and 16 Horsepower, but I haven’t yet metabolized them. I’m still on, like, Stereolab and Michael Hurley and Deltron 3030. Can never quite catch up.

New moves in architecture? I’m just now touching on Sophia Vyzoviti. I just can’t quite catch up.

July 10, 2007 Posted by | books, music, personomy | Leave a comment

how to library 2.0

|Update|  For the very paranoiac admins out there, NOTICE:

Views expressed by banner ads and comments are not associated with, and are not representative of, the views of the Fort Worth Public Library System or Fort Worth City Government.

Yeah, this is a good start. Now how are your patrons going to find the Virb page? And the MySpace page? But once there… once they’re there, you drive them right back to your services. And that’s gold-star worthy.

(Look, dammit, they’ve actually included a catalog search box right on their Virb page! That can’t be over underscored. And look! Dammit! I just noticed that they do it on their MySpace page too!)

Thank you, Fort Worth.

July 3, 2007 Posted by | blogs, books, libraries, search | 5 Comments

economics, nanotechnology, and post-human social structures: a debate

Oh yeah, you’ll want to go read this

The Hanson-Hughes Debate on
“The Crack of a Future Dawn”

Journal of Evolution and Technology – Vol. 16 Issue 1 – June 2007 – pgs 99-126

PDF Version

Editor’s Introduction

“Follow the money” has been the operational rule for historians and investigative journalists since at least the Watergate era, if not earlier. Futurists do not have a money trail to follow, but instead must predict the trajectory of economic relations based on assumptions of what technological and social developments the future may hold. Many futurists assume that nanotechnology in combination with Artificial Intelligence (AI) will yield a world of material abundance with little or no need for human labor. The nano/AI cornucopia will rain down wealth upon one and all, giving slackers and solid workaholics equal access to almost anything they could ever need or want. But is this really the most likely scenario?

Economist Robin Hanson thinks not. As he reasoned in his paper “If Uploads Come First: The Crack of a Future Dawn” (1994), if the technology to copy, or upload, human minds is developed before strong AI, then the “result could be a sharp transition to an upload-dominated world, with many dramatic consequences. In particular, fast and cheap replication may once again make Darwinian evolution of human values a powerful force in human history. With evolved values, most uploads would value life even when life is hard or short, uploads would reproduce quickly, and wages would fall. But total wealth should rise, so we could all do better by accepting uploads, or at worse taxing them, rather than trying to delay or segregate them.”

In his book Citizen Cyborg (2004), bioethicist (and JET editor) James Hughes took issue with the social implications of Dr. Hanson’s paper. Dr. Hughes objected to Hanson’s upload scenario, characterizing it as a “dismal, elitist utopia” that “recapitulates Marx’s vision of universal immiseration, but this time in the Matrix.”

When Hanson learned of what Hughes had written, on March 29, 2006 he posted a response to the WTA-Talk email list of the World Transhumanist Association. During March and April, a debate ensued. The text that follows is a lightly-edited transcript of that online debate. The original discussion thread, which includes messages from additional participants, can be read at:

The debate text here is limited to what Hanson and Hughes wrote online, but with the addition of closing comments from each man which were written specifically for this document.

I would like to thank Robin Hanson and James Hughes for allowing me to assemble their email debate messages into this document. I hope it will prove to be a more convenient format for readers to follow the fascinating and important issues under discussion. All credit for the content of this document belongs to Dr. Hanson and Dr. Hughes. All errors, omissions, or infelicities of language are my responsibility alone.

Michael LaTorra

Member, IEET Board of Directors
WTA Publications Director
JET Editor

July 2, 2007 Posted by | books, geo/pol | 2 Comments

future of the history of the book

A friendly reminder from if:book:

This is the oldest existing document in the world printed with metal movable type: an anthology of Zen teachings, Goryeo Dynasty, Korea… 1377. It’s a little known fact, at least in the West, that movable type was first developed in Korea circa 1230, over 200 years before that goldsmith from Mainz came on the scene. I saw this today in the National Library of Korea in Seoul (more on that soon). This book is actually a reproduction. The original resides in Paris and is the subject of a bitter dispute between the French and Korean governments.

June 25, 2007 Posted by | books, info sci | Leave a comment