Weeknotes 7

I'm so good at getting these out every week.

Cargo Culting

I was spending some time researching cargo cults earlier. A usually primitive island culture adopts the symbols of modern technology without understanding what it means, how it works or even what it's supposed to be. The famous examples include the building of whole airports from bamboo with equipment, planes and radios. The idea being that by repeating an airport, they'll bring back planes with supplies. Recently, this more Wasp Factory style cultish island appeared on the media stream and I found myself puzzled by how what would traditionally be considered some sort of arcane horror fiction was tapped in reality.

Cyber Bugs

Remeber Dino Riders? Humans and aliens from the future thrown back in time to the (confusingly broad) age of dinosaurs where they repurpose their spaceship technology to ally or tame the lizards and then continue their pithy war using them as cannon fodder? Well we've got that now with cockroaches and stuff.

Apparently DARPA had a hankering for mind-hacked insects so they could get into small stuff and look at things - don't know, it's not really clear, the point is there's a prevailing attitude in the US of 'if nature can do it, DARPA can do it.' So they've given it a fair shot and they reckon they can actually open up the technology to anyone with around $50 and a few spare hours and a cockroach that looks like it could use a new god-figure in directly controlling its actions. Hell, you can even control your helpless insect slave from your iPhone! Great for a laugh, ah the dominion of man.

OK moral issues aside it is quite clever. Humans have been mind-controlling other human for hundreds of years and this is a step forward. It's hard to sell perfume to a cockroach using David Beckham's underwear, but now you can successfully hook it's brain up to a circuit board.

Cockroaches are probably more useful anyway as well known apocalypse survivors, where dinosaurs as we know didn't do too well. 

Inequality For All

It's hard to know whether Robert Reich's new film Inequality For All will be political point scoring or an actual real-to-god-holy-fuck-how-did-this-happen documentary in the styling of the superb Inside Job.  He was labour Secretary under Clinton and despite an apparent alliance between the two administrations it's easy to see Reich coming out and punching below the belt in favour of the cult of Clinton. The film recently got kickstarter funded which at least means it's not just mindless lobbying but the problem with all these things is (and even Inside Job does this) they look for someone to blame. The modern solution to any intractable problem is to find someone who does or should understand it and get enough people to agree it's their fault and blame them.

I can't 'blame the bankers' for the mess we're in because they were symptomatic of an ideology and just essentially did what people and government told them to do - make a shit load of money and damn the consequences. It's equivalent to laying the blame for a nasty infection at bacteria when really you should have washed your hands properly. Not that I'm comparing high volume trade to a nasty infection.

Anyway, here's a clip from Inequality for All and one from Inside Job because I fucking love that film and might go and watch it now.

Oh and because I'm on a run with great financial docu drama things here's the WHOLE of Enron: Smartest Guys in The Room

And the WHOLE of Last Days of The Lehman Brothers. I'm a giver.

OMG Future Cities

The Beeb has done an article about what our future cities might look like. Put aside the sheer volume of work that's been done on this for the last few hundred years by everyone from writers, film makers, artists, designers, architects, engineers, politicians, scientists, religions, financiers, entrepreneurs, big business, minor celebrities, third world dictators, anabaptists and basically every man and his dog and you have quite a boring article that's about twenty years out of date.

Don't even know why I mention it.

A Nice Graph

Love a graph.

Google Glass

Big announcements this week as non-Wired readers suddenly got all giddy about old pictures of Google Glass and a new ad.  In Freudian terms this whole thing is aimed at the geek superego. Almost all of the points-of-view and activities of the ad are uniquely male as the larger geek community regrettably is. (See previous posts for info on sexism in geekdom.) But all geeks already have glasses. So we're imagining a world where the type of people who furiously follow tech blogs a) don't already have glasses and b) do stuff like skydiving or whatever which no one actually really does. And if you have to wait until you're skydiving to find use of your Google Glasses I just wouldn't bother with either.

Frankly the whole thing's a little premature and riddled with problems. Plus the dreamy tech projection of everyone hanging around in expensive sporting apparatus in a seemingly perpetual sunset/sunrise has a rank stink of either an apocalyptic scenario or a kitschy folksy ad exec's wet dream with the extra wicker weave. Gross. 

Genuinely, it would be more interesting if they showed a video of a guy dodging AR highlighted bulldog shit in Whitechapel.


Your spare time, I'm running short.