Feel the feeling

A new study reveals the best coping mechanisms for stressed kids and teens
August 6th, 2017

Via Quartz: "'In this new work, we found that when the subjects used adaptive strategies, like looking at a problem in a different way, engaging in problem solving or pursuing constructive communication, they were better able to manage the adverse effects of stress,' Compas says. 'Those who used maladaptive strategies like suppressing, avoiding, or denying their feelings, had higher levels of problems associated with stress.' [   ]

'Stress is the single most potent risk factor for mental health problems in children and adolescents, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, eating disorders, and substance use,' Compas says. 'But the good news is the brain is malleable. Once positive coping skills are learned and put into practice, especially as a family, they can be used to manage stress for a lifetime.'"

Related: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference.

The UX in Motion Manifesto

Creating Usability with Motion
May 26th, 2017

Via Medium: "The following manifesto represents my answer to the question — 'As a UX or UI, designer, how do I know when and where to implement motion to support usability?' [...]

After over fifteen years studying motion in user interfaces, I have come to the conclusion that there are 12 specific opportunities to support usability in your UX projects using motion.

I call these opportunities The 12 Principles of UX in Motion, and they can be stacked and combined synergistically in a myriad of innovative ways.

I’ve broken the manifesto into 5 parts:

1. Addressing the topic of UI Animation — it’s not what you think
2. Realtime vs non-realtime interactions
3. Four ways that motion supports usability
4. Principles, Techniques, Properties and Values
5. The 12 Principles of UX in Motion"

The Future of Motion Design

Talk by Justin Cone @ FITC Toronto 2017
May 13th, 2017

Via YouTube: "Motion design (or motion graphics, if you prefer) sits at the busy intersection of graphic design, animation and filmmaking. Inextricably linked to technology, the discipline of motion design is constantly evolving, adapting to emerging media while pushing the boundaries of storytelling and communication.

Drawing on his 15 years as an enthusiast and professional working in the field of motion design, Justin Cone (founder of Motionographer), will gaze into his crystal ball and share his divinations with you. Expect practical, entertaining and possibly challenging insights. Also expect cats."

Thanks to Alexander Hanowski!

3 Simple Ways to Get More People to Respond to Your Emails

The right way to write emails to keep those responses coming
February 27th, 2017

Via Inc.: "Thankfully, the folks at Boomerang, a plug-in for scheduling emails, did a little study to see if the language people use to close their emails has any effect on the response rate. 'We looked at closings in over 350,000 email threads,' data scientist Brendan Greenley wrote on the Boomerang blog. 'And found that certain email closings deliver higher response rates.'

'Emails that closed with a variation of thank you got significantly more responses than emails ending with other popular closings,' Greenley writes. Here are the exact numbers: Emails that ended in Thanks in advance had a 65.7 percent response rate. Of emails that ended in Thanks, 63 percent got responses. The third most effective closing was Thank you with a 57.9 percent response rate. Across the board, Boomerang found that sign-offs that included some sort of expression of gratitude had a 36 percent relative increase in average response rate.

It's also worth exploring a couple of the lowest-performing sign-offs on the list. It turns out that ending your email in Regards or Best could be dooming your response potential. In the 350,000 email threads they examined, Boomerang found Best was the worst performer of them all.

Of course, the subject line, tone, length, and content of your emails matters too. You can't write a long-winded, confusing, and unkind email, then simply end with 'Thanks!' and expect a reply."

End of 2016

Celebrating ten life moments
31st December, 2016

Concert Matias Aguayo texted me an invitation to his Matias Aguayo & The Desdemonas concert at Gewölbe. I was kind of hesitant because of too much work... but it turned out to be the best concert for this year. Once again he reinvented himself. The crowd was around my age, and I am pretty sure we all flew in a kind of unheard, totally contemporary Joy-Division-ish nebula, and loved it.

Death Two of the musician who shaped my 20s died this year. Sometimes it snows in April is the anthem to the darkest hours of my twen love, but also to the rocket launch of some of the most amazing adventures I had in my life... yet. Outside is as bold as it gets using the mainstream media and music industry to show them the finger and feel self-confident in a creative, splendid, witty way. Cheers to everyone cottaging out there. Never bogart the J, my friend.

Encounter As an aging designer it is difficult to find something truly fresh or inspiring in design because I have seen so many ideas already. But David O'Reilly surprised me many, many times. That is why I am a huge fan. This year I met him in person at the Clash of Realities conference. My longtime comrade Björn Bartholdy introduced us. Thank you!

Film To see Toni Erdmann was a relieve on many levels. On one level I laughed so hard it really hurt – I was shaking, and released much stress at the same time. On another level it was a joy to finally see a good German movie. It has been years, or even decades?

Flashback Spend several days in Wuppertal this summer to visit my father at the hospital. Among other things I took a ride with my niece on the famous Schwebebahn. It has been three decades since I studied at the University of Wuppertal. The biggest impression this time were enormous road constructions which divide the whole city.

Master We have been talking for a couple of years but this year we finally nailed it, and the new Klang und Realität master program will start in April. It means a lot to me, and I am convinced that we created a contemporary piece of teaching. Thanks to Julian Rohrhuber!

Prodopa Went to a quit-smoking-session at Cologne's university hospital. They promised a massive flow of Dopamine if we would quit. I did, and am still waiting for the Dopamine... Thank you Ulli Schumacher for believing in me!

Third eye It opened when I was in Berlin to celebrate the 80th birthday of my professor, Bazon Brock. I beefed it trying to cross a street... Spend the day in a hospital in the Kreuzberg neighborhood waiting for my stitches. Awesome new look. Thanks to Tristan Thönnissen for being a real friend!

Tribute My blud Marcus Schmickler and I organized a week of concerts, and lectures to celebrate the 80th birthday of the great John Tilbury. It was simply mind-blowing, every minute of it. At the Cologne venue LOFT Tilbury played with Keith Rowe and Marcus Schmickler. The last 30 minutes of the concert were legendary. They played but they did not play, and the suspense almost killed the audience. In his last concert Tilbury played his Beatles adaptation for solo piano in the grand staircase of Museum Ludwig. We sat in the paradox of crying without being emotional.

Women of the world take over This year I supported three extraordinary women to become full professors. — Step by step, and we are not there yet. Consider Madonna's speech as Billboard Woman of the Year if you need more information.

So, here we are... And what is next?

The Fortifying Commons

by George Monbiot
December 17th, 2016

Via George Monbiot: "We were promised unending growth on a finite planet. We were told that a vastly unequal system would remove all differences. Social peace would be delivered by a system based on competition and envy. Democracy would be secured by the power of money. The contradictions were crashingly obvious. The whole package relied on magic.

Because none of it works, there is no normal to which to return. [...]

How do we respond to these crises? Raymond Williams said 'to be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing'. [...]

There are many points at which I could begin, but it seems to me that an obvious one is this. The market alone cannot meet our needs, nor can the state. Both, by rooting out attachment, help fuel the alienation, rage and anomie that breeds extremism. Over the past 200 years, one element has been conspicuously absent from the dominant ideologies, something that is neither market nor state: the commons.

A commons is an asset over which a community has shared and equal rights. This could, in principle, include land, water, minerals, knowledge, scientific research and software. But at the moment most of these assets have been enclosed: seized by either the state or private interests and treated as any other form of capital. Through this enclosure, we have been deprived of our common wealth. [...]

The restoration of the commons has great potential not only to distribute wealth but also to change society. As the writer David Bollier points out, a commons is not just a resource (land or trees or software) but also the community of people managing and protecting it. The members of the commons develop much deeper connections with each other and their assets than we do as passive consumers of corporate products.

Managing common resources means developing rules, values and traditions. It means, in some cases, re-embedding ourselves in the places in which we live. It means reshaping government to meet the needs of communities, not corporations. In other words, reviving the commons can act as a counterweight to the atomising, alienating forces now generating a thousand forms of toxic reaction."

How liars create

...the illusion of truth
November 20th, 2016

Via Mind Hacks: "Repetition makes a fact seem more true, regardless of whether it is or not. Understanding this effect can help you avoid falling for propaganda, says psychologist Tom Stafford.

Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels. Among psychologists something like this known as the illusion of truth effect. [...] 

If repetition was the only thing that influenced what we believed we’d be in trouble, but it isn’t. We can all bring to bear more extensive powers of reasoning, but we need to recognise they are a limited resource. Our minds are prey to the illusion of truth effect because our instinct is to use short-cuts in judging how plausible something is. Often this works. Sometimes it is misleading.

Once we know about the effect we can guard against it. Part of this is double-checking why we believe what we do – if something sounds plausible is it because it really is true, or have we just been told that repeatedly? This is why scholars are so mad about providing references – so we can track the origin on any claim, rather than having to take it on faith.
But part of guarding against the illusion is the obligation it puts on us to stop repeating falsehoods. We live in a world where the facts matter, and should matter. If you repeat things without bothering to check if they are true, you are helping to make a world where lies and truth are easier to confuse. So, please, think before you repeat."

Technology Will Replace Many ..., and Other Professionals

by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind
October 18th, 2016

Via Harvard Business Review: "The claim that the professions are immune to displacement by technology is usually based on two assumptions: that computers are incapable of exercising judgment or being creative or empathetic, and that these capabilities are indispensable in the delivery of professional service. The first problem with this position is empirical. As our research shows, when professional work is broken down into component parts, many of the tasks involved turn out to be routine and process-based. They do not in fact call for judgment, creativity, or empathy.

The second problem is conceptual. Insistence that the outcomes of professional advisers can only be achieved by sentient beings who are creative and empathetic usually rests on what we call the AI fallacy — the view that the only way to get machines to outperform the best human professionals will be to copy the way that these professionals work. The error here is not recognizing that human professionals are already being outgunned by a combination of brute processing power, big data, and remarkable algorithms. These systems do not replicate human reasoning and thinking. When systems beat the best humans at difficult games, when they predict the likely decisions of courts more accurately than lawyers, or when the probable outcomes of epidemics can be better gauged on the strength of past medical data than on medical science, we are witnessing the work of high-performing, unthinking machines.

Our inclination is to be sympathetic to this transformative use of technology, not least because today’s professions, as currently organized, are creaking. They are increasingly unaffordable, opaque, and inefficient, and they fail to deliver value evenly across our communities. In most advanced economies, there is concern about the spiraling costs of health care, the lack of access to justice, the inadequacy of current educational systems, and the failure of auditors to recognize and stop various financial scandals. The professions need to change. Technology may force them to."

Um, er...

How meaning varies between speech and its typed transcript
September 22nd, 2016

Via Cornell University Library: "We use an extract from an interview concerning gravitational wave physics to show that the meaning of hesitancies within speech are different when spoken and when read from the corresponding transcript. When used in speech, hesitancies can indicate a pause for thought, when read in a transcript they indicate uncertainty. In a series of experiments the perceived uncertainty of the transcript was shown to be higher than the perceived uncertainty of the spoken version with almost no overlap for any respondent. We propose that finding and the method could be the beginning of a new subject we call Language Code Analysis which would systematically examine how meanings change when the same words are communicated via different media and symbol systems."

How to Know If You Talk Too Much

by Mark Goulston
July 23rd, 2016

Via Haward Business Review: "There are three stages of speaking to other people. In the first stage, you’re on task, relevant and concise. But then you unconsciously discover that the more you talk, the more you feel relief. Ahh, so wonderful and tension-relieving for you… but not so much fun for the receiver. This is the second stage – when it feels so good to talk, you don’t even notice the other person is not listening.
The third stage occurs after you have lost track of what you were saying and begin to realize you might need to reel the other person back in. If during the third stage of this monologue poorly disguised as a conversation you unconsciously sense that the other person is getting a bit fidgety, guess what happens then?
Unfortunately, rather than finding a way to reengage your innocent victim through having them talk and then listening to them, instead the usual impulse is to talk even more in an effort to regain their interest.
Why does this happen? First, the very simple reason that all human beings have a hunger to be listened to. But second, because the process of talking about ourselves releases dopamine, the pleasure hormone. One of the reasons gabby people keep gabbing is because they become addicted to that pleasure. [...]

In the first 20 seconds of talking, your light is green: your listener is liking you, as long as your statement is relevant to the conversation and hopefully in service of the other person. But unless you are an extremely gifted raconteur, people who talk for more than roughly half minute at a time are boring and often perceived as too chatty. So the light turns yellow for the next 20 seconds— now the risk is increasing that the other person is beginning to lose interest or think you’re long-winded. At the 40-second mark, your light is red. Yes, there’s an occasional time you want to run that red light and keep talking, but the vast majority of the time, you’d better stop or you’re in danger."

Can you think a thought which isn’t yours?

A remarkable new study, led by psychologist Jay Olson from McGill University in Canada, suggests you can.
June 27th, 2016

Via British Psychological Society: "Years before he was famous, stage illusionist Derren Brown wrote a book called Pure Effect, where he argued that presenting tricks as psychology could be an effective form of misdirection. In his innovative shows, Brown often claims he is debunking psychics by demonstrating how psychology can be used to manipulate people’s minds. In practice, his mind-reading and mind control feats can involve the same traditional techniques used by stage magicians, it’s just that he presents them as psychology rather than magic.

Olson and his colleagues from McGill took this approach a step further, telling their participants that they were taking part in a study to see if an fMRI brain scanner could read thoughts and influence their mind.

Hidden from the participants was the fact that the experiment was actually conducted in a mock scanner – something that exists in most neuroimaging facilities to test experiments before they are run on the genuine equipment. To add to the plausibility of the story, the participants went through a realistic briefing, safety screening, and calibration procedure for an fMRI brain scan.

Participants were then asked to complete what they thought were mind reading and mind influencing experiments.

In the mind reading stage, researchers asked each participant to lie in the scanner, silently think of any two-digit number and press a button when they were done. The fMRI machine then produced a number on screen and the researcher could be seen writing the result onto a clipboard.

Next, the participant was asked to name the number they had silently thought of. The researcher turned the clipboard, stunning the participant by showing exactly their number – seemingly read from their mind by the power of fMRI.

The researchers are coy about exactly how this was achieved, only referencing an old mentalism book. In fact, they likely used a variation on a technique called the "swami gimmick" where the mentalist – the researcher in this case – has a fake rubber tip on the end of their thumb, which includes a barely visible shard of pencil lead. Earlier, when the researcher appeared to be writing the fMRI mind reading results, he was just pretending. What really happened is that, in the split second after the participant announced their secretly selected number, the researcher discreetly wrote it down on the clipboard using their thumb."


The relationship between shots and the process by which they are combined
June 23rd, 2016

Via College Film & Media Studies: "Editing describes the relationship between shots and the process by which they are combined. It is essential to the creation of narrative space and to the establishment of narrative time. The relationship between shots may be graphic, rhythmic, spatial and/or temporal.

Filmmakers and editors may work with various goals in mind. Traditionally, commercial cinema prefers the continuity system, or the creation of a logical, continuous narrative which allows the viewer to suspend disbelief easily and comfortably. Alternatively, filmmakers may use editing to solicit our intellectual participation or to call attention to their work in a reflexive manner."

Here is their wonderful guide to those relationships.

Thanks to Marcus Schmickler!

What Neuroscience Says about Free Will

New research suggests it might be nothing more than a trick
May 7th, 2016

Via Scientific American: "In a classic paper published almost 20 years ago, the psychologists Dan Wegner and Thalia Wheatley made a revolutionary proposal: The experience of intentionally willing an action, they suggested, is often nothing more than a post hoc causal inference that our thoughts caused some behavior. The feeling itself, however, plays no causal role in producing that behavior. This could sometimes lead us to think we made a choice when we actually didn’t or think we made a different choice than we actually did.

But there’s a mystery here. Suppose, as Wegner and Wheatley propose, that we observe ourselves (unconsciously) perform some action, like picking out a box of cereal in the grocery store, and then only afterwards come to infer that we did this intentionally. If this is the true sequence of events, how could we be deceived into believing that we had intentionally made our choice before the consequences of this action were observed? This explanation for how we think of our agency would seem to require supernatural backwards causation, with our experience of conscious will being both a product and an apparent cause of behavior.

In a study just published in Psychological Science, Paul Bloom and I explore a radical—but non-magical—solution to this puzzle. Perhaps in the very moments that we experience a choice, our minds are rewriting history, fooling us into thinking that this choice—that was actually completed after its consequences were subconsciously perceived—was a choice that we had made all along."

Language and thought are not the same thing

Evidence from neuroimaging and neurological patients
April 29th, 2016

Via National Center for Biotechnology Information: "Is thought possible without language? Individuals with global aphasia, who have almost no ability to understand or produce language, provide a powerful opportunity to find out. Surprisingly, despite their near-total loss of language, these individuals are nonetheless able to add and subtract, solve logic problems, think about another person's thoughts, appreciate music, and successfully navigate their environments. Further, neuroimaging studies show that healthy adults strongly engage the brain's language areas when they understand a sentence, but not when they perform other nonlinguistic tasks such as arithmetic, storing information in working memory, inhibiting prepotent responses, or listening to music. Together, these two complementary lines of evidence provide a clear answer: many aspects of thought engage distinct brain regions from, and do not depend on, language."

Getting clients

Jason Fried’s 13 unconventional rules
April 25th, 2016

Via Medium: "Much like Ogilvy’s approach, Jason Fried’s rules are timeless and apply to selling anything. And like Ogilvy, not all that much has changed in the world of selling services to clients. [...]

1. Sell your service like a product by removing the barriers and unknowns about what you’re selling.
2. Make your portfolio about ideas not pretty pictures of your work.
3. Take a shot at being yourself.
4. Don’t try to act bigger than you are, if you’re a freelancer use the word “I” instead of “we”.
5. Write and sell with short 1-page proposals.
6. Think about what you can get away with NOT doing.
7. Get things done without worrying about layers of red-tape.
8. Hire yourself and be your own client.
9. Don’t rush away from client work until it’s clear it’s the right choice.
10. Get a solid budget before you create a proposal.
11. Don’t work with bad clients.
12. Know when to say no.
13. Hire your clients."

The serendipitous brain

Study directed by Prof. Fabrizio Doricchi, Lasaponara and colleagues
April 8th, 2016

Via Elsevier: "Sometimes you accidently find something new or valuable, for example an interesting idea for a new study or money in the pocket of an old coat, when you are actively looking for something else. This is called serendipity. [...]

This shows that when one is actively looking for an event with loose probabilistic and temporal expectancies on its occurrence, the awareness of otherwise unnoticed events improves. This finding provides new insights on the attentional mechanisms behind the initial stages of serendipity."

Romantic Agony of Modern Life

by Eva Illouz
April 3rd, 2016

Via brainpickings: "In the same way that at the end of the nineteenth century it was radical to claim that poverty was the result not of dubious morality or weak character, but of systematic economic exploitation, it is now urgent to claim not that the failures of our private lives are the result of weak psyches, but rather that the vagaries and miseries of our emotional life are shaped by institutional arrangements… What is wrong are not dysfunctional childhoods or insufficiently self-aware psyches, but the set of social and cultural tensions and contradictions that have come to structure modern selves and identities. [...]

Modernity sobered people up from the powerful but sweet delusions and illusions that had made the misery of their lives bearable. Devoid of these fantasies, we would lead our lives without commitment to higher principles and values, without the fervor and ecstasy of the sacred, without the heroism of saints, without the certainty and orderliness of divine commandments, but most of all without those fictions that console and beautify.

Such sobering up is nowhere more apparent than in the realm of love, which for several centuries in the history of Western Europe had been governed by the ideals of chivalry, gallantry, and romanticism. The male ideal of chivalry had one cardinal stipulation: to defend the weak with courage and loyalty. The weakness of women was thus contained in a cultural system in which it was acknowledged and glorified because it transfigured male power and female frailty into lovable qualities… Women’s social inferiority could thus be traded for men’s absolute devotion in love, which in turn served as the very site of display and exercise of their masculinity, prowess, and honor. More: women’s dispossession of economic and political rights was accompanied (and presumably compensated) by the reassurance that in love they were not only protected by men but also superior to them. It is therefore unsurprising that love has been historically so powerfully seductive to women; it promised them the moral status and dignity they were otherwise denied in society and it glorified their social fate: taking care of and loving others, as mothers, wives, and lovers. Thus, historically, love was highly seductive precisely because it concealed as it beautified the deep inequalities at the heart of gender relationships."

The Third Brain in Autism

by Dr. Rajalakshmi Kandaswamy, Autism Expert
February 17th, 2016

"The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena; it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence." – Nikola Tesla

Via Journal of Neurology and Neurobiology:
"The First Brain - The Brain Occupying the Space in the Skull
All of us are familiar with the general presence and functioning of this brain as a receiver of information which then gets processed.

The Second Brain - The brain in the gut
It has been proven that the very same cells and neural network that is present in the brain in the skull is present in the gut as well and releases the same neurotransmitters as the brain in the skull. Not just that, about 90 percent of the bers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around.

The Third Brain - The Global Brain
This is connected to the neural network that extends from each being on this planet beyond the con nes of the skull and the anatomy of the gut. It is inter-dimensional in nature and contains all frequencies of energies (low and high) and their corresponding information. […]

Every human being is born with the three brains described above, but Autistic Beings are more connected and more in-tune with all three simultaneously. But make no mistake – most autistic beings are not necessarily aware of the existence or their connection to these three brains beyond their volitional control although they are accessing information from all three to varying degrees almost all the time.

One of the manifestations of being tuned-in to this third brain is Telepathy."

Everyone on Earth is actually your cousin

it's all relative
January 24th, 2016

Via Quartz: "So in this frenzy of procreation we’re all a part of, what’s the deal with our relation to the other people on this Earth today?
The simplest way to think about it is that every stranger in the world is a cousin of yours, and the only question is how distant a cousin they are. The degree of cousin (first, second, etc.) is just a way of referring to how far you have to go back before you get to a common ancestor. For first cousins, you only have to go back two generations to hit your common grandparents. For second cousins, you have to go back three generations to your common great-grandparents. For fifth cousins, you’d have to go back six generations until you arrive at your common pair of great-great-great-great-grandparents."

End of 2015

Ten out of ten
31st December, 2015

Book I spend a good part of my summer break reading Infinite Jest. The first 300+ pages were tough but once Madame Psychosis was introduced the book had me. I can't remember any other book that made me laughed so hard I cried. It's themes evolve around addiction, entertainment and competition. Critics called it a profound study of the postmodern condition and I consider it a must-read if you want to get a grip on the times we are living in.

Cycling This year I did three day trips on my bike through Cologne with a group of friends. Guided tours by Frank Dommert from the infamous a-musik record store, who showed us parts of the city which I have never heard of. I organized he first one to celebrated my fiftieth birthday. It was the first day of spring, blue skies, and I couldn't have asked for more – including perfect company plus a glowing yellow canola field.

Exercise Looking myself in the eye with all my respect, and saying "My dear" [Meine Gute] did implode my concept of the Other and the Self. Try it.

Film A summer flu opened the opportunity to watch many Ozu Yasujirō films. Amazing grace with just one 50mm lens.

Lake Learned about a secret, forbidden lake and spent many wonderful hours there during this hot summer. To compensate for breaking the law I collected the garbage of other humans.

Law and Order Spent a day at court to experience myself as part of the people when the judge said, "in the name of the people". Totally recommended experience. One judge even asked us if we would have ruled the same way.

Let’s plays Discovered a new addiction and learned that computer games evolved into an inspiring, original and independent genre. For instance, check out Stanley’s parable.

Quote Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.  –Robert A. Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land

Reality check I teached a masterclass, and won’t say where because when I asked the 50+ students none of them had ever heard about John Cage. Whoa. Guess this is telling me in a polite way that I am getting older.

Resource The over 300 talks from the Aruna Ratanagiri Buddhist Monastery in the north of England are an enormous well of deep insides, contemporary pointing, and great humour. Highly recommended for everyday life, and beyond.

So, here we are... And what is next?

Consciousness or awareness is non-algorithmic

Quantum systems can also rapidly solve perception problems
December 6th, 2015

By James A. Donald: "Animals, including very simple animals, can rapidly and effortlessly perceive objects, whereas computers take nonpolynomial time to do this by all known algorithms [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Our persistent inability to emulate perception gives reason to doubt the current paradigm and to look for an alternative paradigm.

Penrose[7] and many others [8, 9, 10] argue from practical considerations, Godel’s theorem, and on philosophical grounds, that consciousness or awareness is non-algorithmic and so cannot be generated by a system that can be described by classical physics, such as a conventional computer, but could perhaps be generated by a system requiring a quantum (Hilbert space) description. Penrose suspects that aspects of quantum physics not yet understood might be needed to explain consciousness. In this paper we shall see that only known quantum physics is needed to explain perception.

Bialek[11, 12] and Frolich[13] suggested on very different grounds that cells process information using quantum mechanical processes. Frolich suggested a class of mechanisms that might enable them to do this despite the high temperature and large size of biological membranes and macromolecules. Deutch[14] showed that quantum systems can solve some problems that computers cannot solve in polynomial time, but he did not show that quantum systems could solve perception problems. Penrose[7] conjectured that some areas where animals are superior to computers are of this class, but did not find any examples. Bialek[15] argued that perception is inherently non-polynomial if done algorithmically, and therefore neurons must be doing something remarkable, but he did not show that quantum mechanics would enable them to do this.

This paper will show that quantum systems can also rapidly solve perception problems, closing the gap between Bialek’s argument and Deutch’s result, and demonstrating Penrose’s conjecture. This result supports the idea that animals perceive by processing sensory information quantum mechanically in hilbert spaces corresponding to many strongly coupled degrees of freedom."

Why do we forget names?

by Tom Stafford
December 3rd, 2015

Via Mind Hacks: "First, you should repeat any name said to you. Practice is one of the golden rules of learning: more practice makes stronger memories. In addition, when you use someone’s name you are linking it to yourself, in the physical act of saying it, but also to the current topic of the conversation in your memory (“So, James, just what is it about fishing that makes you love it so much?”).

Second, you should try to link the name you have just learnt to something you already know. It doesn’t matter if the link is completely silly, it is just important that you find some connection to help the name stick in memory. For example, maybe the guy is called James, and your high school buddy was called James, and although this guy is wearing a blue shirt, high school James only ever wore black, so he’d never wear blue. It’s a silly made up association, but it can help you remember.

Finally, you need to try to link their name to something else about them. If it was me I’d grab the first thing to come to mind to bridge between the name and something I’ve learnt about them. For example, James is a sort of biblical name, you get the King James bible after all, and James begins with J, just like Jonah in the bible who was swallowed by the whale, and this James likes fishing, but I bet he prefers catching them to being caught by them.

It doesn’t matter if the links you make are outlandish or weird. You don’t have to tell anyone. In fact, probably it is best if you don’t tell anyone, especially your new friend! But the links will help create a web of association in your memory, and that web will stop their name falling out of your mind when it is time to introduce them to someone else."

Life is different for people who think in metaphors

A proclivity for metaphors has real consequences
December 1st, 2015

Via British Psychological Society: "Some people are literal minded – they think in black and white whereas others colour their worlds with metaphor. A new paper published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports on the first standardised measure of this difference, and it shows that having a proclivity for metaphors has real consequences, affecting how people respond to the world around them and even how they interact with others. [...]

Remember, too, that metaphors are supposed to illuminate, particularly when it comes to abstract concepts that can be hard to pin down, like the subtleties of emotions. In another experiment, Fetterman’s team measured participants’ ability to correctly judge most people’s typical emotional response in different situations, such as when something unpleasant was happening that couldn’t be stopped. In this example, the correct response was distressed. Crucially, people who scored highly in metaphoric thinking style tended to perform better at this task. This suggests their colourful thinking style actually gave them greater insight into emotions."

The Stanley Parable

Let's play
October 21st, 2015

Game with an amazing narrative, and a great Let's play by SgtRumpel.

Via Wikipedia: "Within two weeks of its release, the modification was downloaded more than 90,000 times. Responses of most players were positive, and Wreden became "an overnight internet sensation among hardcore gamers."
The Stanley Parable modification was praised by journalists as a thought-provoking game, praising it for being a highly experimental game that only took a short amount of time for the player to experience. [...]

Brighting's voice work was considered a strong element, providing the right dry British wit to the complex narration. Alex Aagaard from What Culture believes that The Stanley Parable 'will be regarded as one of the most pioneering games of all time' during videogames' transition from entertainment to a legitimate and respected art form."

Anger Expression

...increases influence for men, but decreases influence for women
October 20st, 2015

Via American Psychological Association: "We investigated whether expressing anger increases social influence for men, but diminishes social influence for women, during group deliberation. In a deception paradigm, participants believed they were engaged in a computer-mediated mock jury deliberation about a murder case. In actuality, the interaction was scripted. The script included 5 other mock jurors who provided verdicts and comments in support of the verdicts; 4 agreed with the participant and 1 was a “holdout” dissenter. Holdouts expressed their opinions with no emotion, anger, or fear and had either male or female names. Holdouts exerted no influence on participants’ opinions when they expressed no emotion or fear. Participants’ confidence in their own verdict dropped significantly, however, after male holdouts expressed anger. Yet, anger expression undermined female holdouts: Participants became significantly more confident in their original verdicts after female holdouts expressed anger—even though they were expressing the exact same opinion and emotion as the male holdouts. Mediation analyses revealed that participants drew different inferences from male versus female anger, which created a gender gap in influence during group deliberation. The current study has implications for group decisions in general, and jury deliberations in particular, by suggesting that expressing anger might lead men to gain influence, but women to lose influence over others (even when making identical arguments). These diverging consequences might result in women potentially having less influence on societally important decisions than men, such as jury verdicts."

Prefrontal cortex

And the self model
September 30th, 2015

Via Wikipedia: "The self-model is the central concept in the theory of consciousness called the self-model theory of subjectivity (SMT). This concept comprises experiences of ownership, of first person perspective, and of a long-term unity of beliefs and attitudes. These features are instantiated in the prefrontal cortex."

The phenomenal self-model (PSM) "is an entity that 'actually exists, not only as a distinct theoretical entity but something that will be empirically discovered in the future- for instance, as a specific stage of the global neural dynamics in the human brain. Involved in the PSM are three phenomenal properties that must occur in order to explain the concept of the self. The first is mineness, a higher order property of particular forms of phenomenal content, or the idea of ownership. The second is perspectivalness, which is a global, structural property of phenomenal space as a whole. More simply, it is what is commonly referred to as the ecological self, the immovable center of perception. The third phenomenal property is selfhood, which is the phenomenal target property or the idea of the self over time. It is the property of phenomenal selfhood that plays the most important role in creating the fictional self and the first person perspective. Metzinger defines the first person perspective as the existence of single coherent and temporally stable model of reality which is representationally centered around or on a single coherent and temporally stable phenomenal subject. The first-person perspective can be non-conceptual and is autonomously active due to the constant reception of perceptual information by the brain. The brain, specifically the brainstem and hypothalamus, processes this information into representational content, namely linguistic reflections. The PSM then uses this representational content to attribute phenomenal states to our perceived objects and ourselves. We are thus what Metzinger calls naïve realists, who believe we are perceiving reality directly when in actuality we are only perceiving representations of reality. The data structures and transport mechanisms of the data are transparent so that we can introspect on our representations of perceptions, but cannot introspect on the data or mechanisms themselves. These systemic representational experiences are then connected by subjective experience to generate the phenomenal property of selfhood. Subjective experience is the result of the Phenomenal Model of Intentionality Relationship (PMIR). The PMIR is a conscious mental model, and its content is an ongoing, episodic subject-object relation. The model is a result of the combination of our unique set of sensory receptors that acquire input, our unique set of experiences that shape connections within the brain, and our unique positions in space that give our perception perspectivalness."

Thanks to Sylke Rene Meyer!

A Groundbreaking Idea About Why Life Exists

by Jeremy England, a 31-year-old physicist at MIT
September 27th, 2015

Via Business Insider: "At the heart of England’s idea is the second law of thermodynamics, also known as the law of increasing entropy or the arrow of time. Hot things cool down, gas diffuses through air, eggs scramble but never spontaneously unscramble; in short, energy tends to disperse or spread out as time progresses. Entropy is a measure of this tendency, quantifying how dispersed the energy is among the particles in a system, and how diffuse those particles are throughout space. It increases as a simple matter of probability: There are more ways for energy to be spread out than for it to be concentrated.

Thus, as particles in a system move around and interact, they will, through sheer chance, tend to adopt configurations in which the energy is spread out. Eventually, the system arrives at a state of maximum entropy called thermodynamic equilibrium, in which energy is uniformly distributed. A cup of coffee and the room it sits in become the same temperature, for example.
As long as the cup and the room are left alone, this process is irreversible. The coffee never spontaneously heats up again because the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against so much of the room’s energy randomly concentrating in its atoms.

Although entropy must increase over time in an isolated or closed system, an open system can keep its entropy low — that is, divide energy unevenly among its atoms — by greatly increasing the entropy of its surroundings. In his influential 1944 monograph What Is Life? the eminent quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger argued that this is what living things must do. A plant, for example, absorbs extremely energetic sunlight, uses it to build sugars, and ejects infrared light, a much less concentrated form of energy. The overall entropy of the universe increases during photosynthesis as the sunlight dissipates, even as the plant prevents itself from decaying by maintaining an orderly internal structure.

Life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics, but until recently, physicists were unable to use thermodynamics to explain why it should arise in the first place. In Schrödinger’s day, they could solve the equations of thermodynamics only for closed systems in equilibrium. In the 1960s, the Belgian physicist Ilya Prigogine made progress on predicting the behavior of open systems weakly driven by external energy sources (for which he won the 1977 Nobel Prize in chemistry). But the behavior of systems that are far from equilibrium, which are connected to the outside environment and strongly driven by external sources of energy, could not be predicted.

This situation changed in the late 1990s, due primarily to the work of Chris Jarzynski, now at the University of Maryland, and Gavin Crooks, now at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Jarzynski and Crooks showed that the entropy produced by a thermodynamic process, such as the cooling of a cup of coffee, corresponds to a simple ratio: the probability that the atoms will undergo that process divided by their probability of undergoing the reverse process (that is, spontaneously interacting in such a way that the coffee warms up). As entropy production increases, so does this ratio: A system’s behavior becomes more and more irreversible. The simple yet rigorous formula could in principle be applied to any thermodynamic process, no matter how fast or far from equilibrium. 'Our understanding of far-from-equilibrium statistical mechanics greatly improved,' Grosberg said. England, who is trained in both biochemistry and physics, started his own lab at MIT two years ago and decided to apply the new knowledge of statistical physics to biology."

Typical Dreams

August 4th, 2015

Via TheLucidDreamSite: "One simple yet powerful approach to examining to what extent dream themes vary or are similar across regions, cultures, and time periods is by having sample populations respond to the Typical Dreams Questionnaire (TDQ), a forced-choice list of dream themes. In contrast to Hall and Van de Castle’s (1966) comprehensive dream coding system which scrutinizes complete individual dreams for such criteria as characters, aggression, fortune and misfortune, failures and successes, etc., the TDQ supplies a list of succinct themes which the participant acknowledges as having had or not. Unlike the pain-staking method of coding entire dreams for specific content, the use of TDQ’s in research allows for the rapid acquisition of useful information from many participants. The TDQ can be used to assess the lifetime prevalence of particular dream themes in a population or reveal the frequency for earliest, most personally meaningful, or other types of dreams."

Via Springer Link: "To investigate the dimensional structure of dreams, the Typical Dreams Questionnaire (TDQ) was administered to 1181 first-year University students in three Canadian cities. A profile of themes was found that varied little by age, gender or region; however, differences that were identified could be interpreted as due to developmental milestones, personality attributes or sociocultural factors. Factor analysis produced a solution consisting of 16 coherent factors that were differentially associated with demographic variables and that accounted for 51% of the variance. Women loaded primarily on negative factors (failure, loss of control, snakes-insects), men primarily on positive factors (magic-myth, alien life). Results support the concept of typical dream themes as consistent over time, region and gender and as reflecting the influence of fundamental dream dimensions that may be influenced by sociocultural, personality, cognitive or physiological factors."

Thanks to Stefan Scheer!

How to Write an Artist Statement

Valuable tips
May 14th, 2015

Via Agora Gallery: "As a professional artist, you need to have more than your work to get around in the art world. Along with your portfolio, you should have an artist statement available at a moment’s notice. An artist statement should be considered just as important as your works.

An artist statement is most often the front line of communication between an artist and the public. It will be used when you submit your portfolio to competitions, galleries, and museums. It may sometimes be displayed when people are viewing your works in person or on your website. If it’s online, your artist statement will be read by people from all over the world.
There are many paths to becoming an artist, through school or an apprenticeship, or through inspiration and self-teaching but no matter how you got there, being a professional artist means that you have to have an artist statement. If you have never written a statement before, or aren’t sure that your current statement is up to art world standards, it can be a quite daunting task to compose one. [...]

Here are some valuable tips for writing an artist’s statement."

The Psychology of Pricing: A Gigantic List of Strategies

by Nick Kolenda
May 12th, 2015

Via Nick Kolenda: "This article is broken up into four parts, with each part containing various strategies and tactics:

Step 1: Determine Your Price
Step 2: Influence Their Perception
Step 3: Motivate Them to Buy
Step 4: Maximize Your Revenue

25 Predictions For What Marketing Will Look Like In 2020

March 19th, 2015

Via Fast Company: "Perfect end-to-end attribution (or knowing exactly what messages and actions led someone to buy a product) will remain an industry white whale. We’ve been talking about attribution for at least 80 years in marketing. New technology has given us much better data in some places, for instance, end-to-end attribution in search is a current reality. But for the majority of companies who sell goods in stores will still struggle with end-to-end attribution five years from now. New technologies, especially mobile wallets, offer some compelling possibilities for solving the problem, but at the end of the day, we’re still a long way from being able to tie the billboard exposure in Times Square to the bar of soap being purchased in Target.
Technology moves upstream. If you look at how technology has moved through marketing, it started at the edge (distribution of marketing assets) and has continued to move closer and closer to the actual planning and development of marketing itself. Over the next five years we’ll see technology complete this transition and become a part of the core fabric of marketing itself. [...]

Culture will still be king. People will continue to care more about culture than products, so brands that operate on a cultural level will be the winners of the future as they are of the present. [...]

Creative energy will see a shift away from agencies and towards publishers and platforms. An increasing number of the brightest creative minds will abandon standalone agencies for creative divisions of media companies and tech companies, and in turn, these will become the go-to shops for best-in-class brand services."

Know your reactions

Aruna Ratanagiri talks
March 2nd, 2015

These over 300 talks from the Aruna Ratanagiri Buddhist Monastery in the north of England are an enormous well of deep insides, contemporary pointing, and great humour. Highly recommended for everyday life, and beyond.

Thanks to Michael Edwards!

Meet yourself

Only Non-Depressed See Monster In The Mirror
February 27th, 2015

Via United Academics: "Try this experiment and you will have goosebumps all over your body: stare at your face in the mirror in a dimly lit room. Keep staring at yourself for a few minutes. Hey, wait! What was that? Did you see it? Was it a monster, an animal, your deformed face, someone else you know, or a stranger?

It was totally creepy, but you can relax: you have not evoked the Devil, what you saw is absolutely normal. Professor Caputo from Urbino in Italy first experienced this himself in 2004. Instead of running away or breaking all the reflective surfaces he encountered, he decided to face the issue and dig into it. His scientific perseverance allowed him to provide an explanation of the phenomenon in 2010."

Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel

No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning
February 12th, 2015

Via Wikipedia: "Consider a hypothetical hotel with a countably infinite number of rooms, all of which are occupied. One might be tempted to think that the hotel would not be able to accommodate any newly arriving guests, as would be the case with a finite number of rooms. [...]

These cases constitute a paradox not in the sense that they entail a logical contradiction, but in the sense that they demonstrate a counter-intuitive result that is provably true: the statements there is a guest to every room and no more guests can be accommodated are not equivalent when there are infinitely many rooms. An analogous situation is presented in Cantor's diagonal proof.[3]
Initially, this state of affairs might seem to be counter-intuitive. The properties of infinite collections of things are quite different from those of finite collections of things. The paradox of Hilbert's Grand Hotel can be understood by using Cantor's theory of transfinite numbers. Thus, while in an ordinary (finite) hotel with more than one room, the number of odd-numbered rooms is obviously smaller than the total number of rooms. However, in Hilbert's aptly named Grand Hotel, the quantity of odd-numbered rooms is not smaller than total number of rooms."

The FBI’s Top Hostage Negotiator Teaches You...

...How To Lower Your Bills
January 31st, 2015

Via Barking Up The Wrong Tree: "Ever feel like the cable company or your phone service provider is charging too much? Ever feel helpless to do much about it? You’re not crazy.
When you call them the customer service rep is reading from a script. I know somebody who has worked on producing those scripts — he’s a Harvard trained negotiator. An expert. He makes sure the phrasing triggers reciprocity and subtly includes a number of other techniques to benefit them — and not you.
So when you talk to the person reading that script you’re basically going up against a top tier negotiator. Totally not a fair fight. And that bugs me. A lot.
If they have experts helping them, we should have experts helping us. So I called a friend who is an expert. [...]

1. Do a little homework. Find out what they’re offering new customers.
2. Late night FM DJ voice. Speak in calm, measured tones and smile as you talk.
3. Start with “I’m sorry.” It grabs their attention and empowers them.
4. “This is going to sound harsh…” It sets them up for something big and makes whatever you say a relief.
5. Turn a complaint call into an appreciation call. This is forced empathy. They’ll want to help you.
6. A focused comparison with an open-ended question. And it’s probably going to bring your bill down a lot."

Courage, Creativity, Criticism, Success, and What It Means to Be a Great Artist

A review on 33 Artists in 3 Acts by
January 18th, 2015

Via Brain Pickings: "Artists don’t just make art. They create and preserve myths… In a sphere where anything can be art, there is no objective measurement of quality, so ambitious artists must establish their own standards of excellence. Generating such standards requires not only immense self-confidence, but the conviction of others. Like competing deities, artists today need to perform in ways that yield a faithful following. [...]

The walk and talk of an artist has to persuade, not just others but the performers themselves. Whether they have colorful, large-scale personas or minimal, low-key selves, believable artists are always protagonists, never secondary characters who inhabit stereotypes. For this reason, I see artists’ studios as private stages for the daily rehearsal of self-belief."

Via The Guardian: "Sarah Thornton’s book introduces us to a cast of characters who inhabit this world. Thornton is an insider. She describes herself as a sociologist of art and was previously the contemporary art critic for the Economist. She stages her book as ethnography. Photographs are few, small, and black and white, like in the 1950s. Here, Google is your first friend. You can boggle at the paintings of Zeng Fanzhi and look up the pieces you didn’t know already. Like an ethnographer, she is interested in myths. In the art world, myths help create, and feed, markets. But Thornton is not a debunker. She is a storyteller."

"I don't believe in art. I believe in artists." –Marcel Duchamp

To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This

by Mandy Len Catron
January 12th, 2015

Via The New York Times: "I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life. I spent the first couple of minutes just trying to breathe properly. There was a lot of nervous smiling until, eventually, we settled in.
I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected.

I felt brave, and in a state of wonder. Part of that wonder was at my own vulnerability and part was the weird kind of wonder you get from saying a word over and over until it loses its meaning and becomes what it actually is: an assemblage of sounds.

So it was with the eye, which is not a window to anything but a rather clump of very useful cells. The sentiment associated with the eye fell away and I was struck by its astounding biological reality: the spherical nature of the eyeball, the visible musculature of the iris and the smooth wet glass of the cornea. It was strange and exquisite.

When the timer buzzed, I was surprised — and a little relieved. But I also felt a sense of loss. Already I was beginning to see our evening through the surreal and unreliable lens of retrospect."

In this WIRED article you'll find all the questions.

The Random Darknet Shopper

by Mediengruppe Bitnik
January 11th, 2015

Via Mediengruppe Bitnik: "The Random Darknet Shopper is an automated online shopping bot which we provide with a budget of $100 in Bitcoins per week. Once a week the bot goes on shopping spree in the deep web where it randomly choses and purchases one item and has it mailed to us. The items are shown in the exhibition The Darknet. From Memes to Onionland at Kunst Halle St. Gallen. Each new object ads to a landscape of traded goods from the Darknet.

The Random Darknet Shopper is a live Mail Art piece, an exploration of the deep web via the goods traded there. It directly connects the Darknet with the art space (exhibition space). By randomizing our consumerism, we are guaranteed a wide selection of goods from the over 16'000 listed on Agora market place."

Your pounding heart

How to make stress your friend by Kelly McGonigal
January 5th, 2015

Via Kelly McGonigal: "In June 2013, I gave my stress confession at TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, Scotland. Find out why I changed my mind about stress, and why embracing stress is more important than reducing stress.

Watch the video, and check out the studies I described in the talk, below:

Keller, A., Litzelman, K., Wisk, L. E., Maddox, T., Cheng, E. R., Creswell, P. D., & Witt, W. P. (2012). Does the perception that stress affects health matter? The association with health and mortality. Health Psychology, 31(5), 677.
Jamieson, J. P., Nock, M. K., & Mendes, W. B. (2012). Mind over matter: Reappraising arousal improves cardiovascular and cognitive responses to stress. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(3), 417.
Poulin, M. J., Brown, S. L., Dillard, A. J., & Smith, D. M. (2013). Giving to others and the association between stress and mortality. American journal of public health, (0), e1-e7."

Thanks to Claudia Jericho!


Two of Disks: Be patient and trust
January 1st, 2015

Via Brain Pickings: "As adults boredom returns us to the scene of inquiry, to the poverty of our curiosity, and the simple question, What does one want to do with one’s time? What is a brief malaise for the child becomes for the adult a kind of muted risk. After all, who can wait for nothing? […]

We can think of boredom as a defense against waiting, which is, at one remove, an acknowledgement of the possibility of desire… In boredom, we can also say, there are two assumptions, two impossible options: there is something I desire, and there is nothing I desire. But which of the two assumptions, or beliefs, is disavowed is always ambiguous, and this ambiguity accounts, I think, for the curious paralysis of boredom… In boredom there is the lure of a possible object of desire, and the lure of the escape from desire, of its meaninglessness. […]

Boredom, I think, protects the individual, makes tolerable for him the impossible experience of waiting for something without knowing what it could be. So that the paradox of the waiting that goes on in boredom is that the individual does not know what he was waiting for until he finds it, and that often he does not know what he is waiting… Clearly, we should speak not of boredom, but of boredoms, because the notion itself includes a multiplicity of moods and feelings that resist analysis; and this, we can say, is integral to the function of boredom as a kind of blank condensation of psychic life."

End of 2014

Ten to remember
31st December, 2014

Book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris is a superb read in its entirety, quite possibly the best thing written on this ecosystem of spiritual subjects since Alan Watts’s treatise on the taboo against knowing who you really are.
Concerts Without much expectations I went to to see Mutter playing at the infamous Luxor venue in Cologne, and got tons of energy infused. Experiencing their concert, and later this year ESG live gave me all the buzz needed for 2014. Come away!
Game David O'Reilly's work is outstanding, and now he has created a wonderful game. I love my Mountain, it was by far the best piece of art I saw in 2014. Very inspiring.
Hike There was another mountain that made me gasp this year. I saw spring waking up on La Gomera. Driving the rental car on those mountain passes was intense beyond description.
Magic My first encounter with family constellations was exhausting, inspiring, and totally mind blowing. Creating a family sculpture is a creative process that works magically. The process draws from indigenous spiritual mysticism to contribute towards releasing tensions, lightening emotional burdens, and resolving real-world problems. Highly recommended.
Performance In June Dr. Johanna Dombois, Prof. Dr. Swantje Lichtenstein, and I performed for the Literature Club Düsseldorf at Salon des Amateurs. We answered the secret questions of our audience by reading from our favorite books. An immensely enjoyable, and successful witchcraft triangle.
Quote I think conversation works best when the second thing that is said is not in the mind of the person who said the first thing. –John Cage
Scent I use dry Palo Santo for its reputed spiritual purifying properties. It worked.
Teenage Dream Went to see Boy George DJing at a tiny club, danced for hours right infront the DJ booth, kept pushing the button of the fog machine for him, and was totally in love again, just like back in 1982. This gentleman came out on the other side brighter, totally present and even more beautiful. Sparkling role model, and I will follow the lead – nice and slow.
Wallpaper Two of my best friends helped me to choose from the overwhelmingly beautiful wallpaper collection at 5qm in Cologne. The German idiom Tapetenwechsel [change of scenery] got a whole new depth for me after the renovation of my apartment was finished.

So, here we are... And what is next?

Make-up tutorial to confuse facial identification software

Hiding from Big Brother with style
December 17th, 2014

Via Dangerous Minds: "As facial recognition technology makes the transition from dystopic science fiction boogie-man to modern Big Brother reality, folks are becoming understandably concerned about being tracked and recorded without their permission. In many cities, including New York, it is at least unwise if illegal to wear a mask in public, so completely obscuring your face is out of the question. As an alternative, artist and designer Adam Harvey has developed a make-up technique—CV Dazzle—that hides from facial recognition software but falls well within the parameters of legal fashion. Confusing the machines is surprisingly simple..."

Here's What Worked

One Startup Tried Every Marketing Ploy
November 23rd, 2014

Via Forbes: "Looking back, Budman cautions that marketing can’t outweigh strength of product and market for a startup’s success. But if you do market, try to get specific with your audience, the CEO says.
The home runs have really been anything we can do to target our actual users, Budman reflects. You want to get as narrow as possible. If we can find Mac software developers in the Mission or in Brooklyn, it’s awesome.
Budman’s last tip? Keep your existing customers happy even as you chase the new. You want to do anything you can to help your customers. For five years we spent zero dollars on marketing, we relied on word-of-mouth. Then we were willing to try everything and we focus on niches now."

The 36 People Who Run Wikipedia

by Stephen Lurie
November 10th, 2014

Great article on Matter: "But the precise makeup of Wikimedia makes it even more unlikely to be such a standout. Social democracies with robust safety nets — think Sweden — tend to thrive where there are homogenous populations; people are willing to care for people like themselves. With diverse and distant participants, stewardship, and Wikimedia itself doesn’t have that natural benefit.
So, from the angle of political economy, sociology, or just common sense, Wikimedia shouldn’t exist — and it certainly shouldn’t be so successful. What the nature and commitment of the stewards tells us, though, is that the mystery isn’t so mysterious at all."

I love Wikipedia and use it on a daily base. Have you considered donating once in a while?

The Three Breakthroughs That Have Finally Unleashed AI on the World

by Kevin Kelly
November 5th, 2014

Via Wired: "But we haven't just been redefining what we mean by AI—we've been redefining what it means to be human. Over the past 60 years, as mechanical processes have replicated behaviors and talents we thought were unique to humans, we've had to change our minds about what sets us apart. As we invent more species of AI, we will be forced to surrender more of what is supposedly unique about humans. We'll spend the next decade—indeed, perhaps the next century—in a permanent identity crisis, constantly asking ourselves what humans are for. In the grandest irony of all, the greatest benefit of an everyday, utilitarian AI will not be increased productivity or an economics of abundance or a new way of doing science—although all those will happen. The greatest benefit of the arrival of artificial intelligence is that AIs will help define humanity. We need AIs to tell us who we are."

We are listening

World's smallest microphone is just one molecule
October 5th, 2014

Via NewScientist: "The world's smallest microphone, made from a single molecule, is listening.
Smaller microphones can detect smaller vibrations. Yuxi Tian of Lund University in Sweden and his colleagues have taken this idea to extremes by embedding a molecule of dibenzoterrylene inside a crystal. When sound waves disturb the molecule, it vibrates, shifting the frequencies of light it absorbs. So by shining a laser into the crystal and watching for changes in absorption frequencies, the team can listen in on the sound it picks up.
One limitation is that the microphone only works at very low temperatures, because fluctuations from warm air would overwhelm the molecule. Still, the team hope that by refining the device, it could be used as an acoustic microscope to spot tiny motions in chemical and biological systems."

How To Make Your Life Better...

...by sending five simple emails
September 14th, 2014

Via Barking Up The Wrong Tree:
"HAPPINESS– Every morning send a friend, family member or co-worker an email to say thanks for something.
JOB– At the end of the week, send your boss an email and sum up what you’ve accomplished.
GROWTH– Once a week email a potential mentor.
FRIENDSHIP– Email a good friend and make plans.
CAREER– Send an email to someone you know (but don’t know very well) and check in."

Plus, 3 Simple Things That Will Make You 10% Happier:
"One: Sit with your eyes closed and your back straight.
Two: Notice what it feels like when your breath comes in and when your breath goes out, try to bring your full attention to the feeling of your breath coming in and going out.
Third step is the biggie: Every time you try to do this, your mind is going to go crazy. You are going to start thinking about all sorts of stupid things like if you need a haircut, why you said that dumb thing to your boss, what’s for lunch, etc. Every time you notice that your mind is wandering, bring your attention back to your breath and begin again. This is going to happen over and over and over again and that is meditation.

It’s not easy. You will fail a million times but the failing and starting over is succeeding. So this isn’t like most things in your life where, like if you can’t get up on water skis, you can’t do it. Here the trying and starting again, trying and starting again, that’s the whole game."

Nice And Slow

by Boy George
September 13th, 2014

It's time to breathe
Good morning Mr Lovebones, how you doing today?
Well I’m just like Patsy, I got my sparkle back again
I’ve been talking less, thinking more,
feel like I should hold you inside
No more watching from the sidelines,
I ain’t along for the ride, no sir
Well the wind might change while I'm talking to you
I feel a little faint getting too much truth
And nothing that I need to do
Take it nice and slow
Nice and slow
Morning Mr Darkness, stop all this running away
Will you be walking in a straight line,
now you know crime doesn’t pay
Your luck has changed, I got sweeter for you
I used to be a dreamer with my heart full of moon
Be careful not to speak too soon
Take it nice and slow
Nice and slow (take it take it)
And l walk down the street with a smile on my face
and my heart on my sleeve
Nice and slow
And if you really love me then show it don’t say it
It’s the only way to go
Nice and slow
See I learnt the hard way love is mundane
Love is just nice and slow

Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence

by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
September 5th, 2014

Via Harvard Business Review: "There seems to be wide support for the idea that we are living in an age of complexity, which implies that the world has never been more intricate. This idea is based on the rapid pace of technological changes, and the vast amount of information that we are generating (the two are related). Yet consider that philosophers like Leibniz (17th century) and Diderot (18th century) were already complaining about information overload. The 'horrible mass of books' they referred to may have represented only a tiny portion of what we know today, but much of what we know today will be equally insignificant to future generations.

In any event, the relative complexity of different eras is of little matter to the person who is simply struggling to cope with it in everyday life. So perhaps the right question is not Is this era more complex? but Why are some people more able to manage complexity? Although complexity is context-dependent, it is also determined by a person’s disposition. In particular, there are three key psychological qualities that enhance our ability to manage complexity:

1. […] higher levels of IQ enable people to learn and solve novel problems faster […]

2. […] individuals with higher EQ [emotional quotient] are less susceptible to stress and anxiety […]

3. […] People with higher CQ [curiosity quotient] are more inquisitive and open to new experiences […] they are generally more tolerant of ambiguity."

Is mathematics absolute?

Is it possible that an alien civilization has completely different mathematics than ours?
August 3rd, 2014

Via Robert Walker: "This is an area of maths (use of sets or infinity or both) - that for us is full of paradoxes - such as Russell's paradox, various Cantor's paradoxes, the Banach Tarski paradox etc.

Some say the paradoxes have been solved.

Yes our maths is elegant in a way, and if you follow the rules carefully you don't get any contradictions (at least as far as we know).

But, if you look at those rules from a philosophically unattached standpoint you may get a different impression.

Modern set theory with
–The puzzling impossibility of counting many fundamental things in mathematics - as in - ordering them into an unending list.
–Yet everything "interesting" can be counted. Ratios, finite decimals, square roots, more generally, solutions to polynomial and trig equations - everything like that can be counted easily.
–If you haven't come across this before, see Impossibility of counting most mathematical objects by Robert Walker (just a short summary I did, linking to the material on the subject)."

Related: Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity by David Foster Wallace.

Of Mitochondria and Men

Why Brain Death is Not the Death of the Human Organism as a Whole
July 22nd, 2014

Via Social Science Research Network: "Death is a phenomenon that resists simple explanation. While the cardiopulmonary criterion of death has been used for centuries, in most nations (including the US and Canada) brain death has also been accepted since 1968 as a second legal criterion, held to be biologically equivalent to bodily death. This equivalence has been argued to derive either from the brain’s control over body functions or from the brain’s work against entropy, with a dead brain thereby producing a dead body. Subsequently, some have found these claims wanting. An alternative body-centered view, based on the functioning of the body’s mitochondria, is that in brain death, only the brain is dead, while the body may not necessarily be. Mitochondria are cellular organelles descended from ancient bacteria, symbiotically providing energy for entropy-resistance and sharing control over life processes. All of death’s features – its universality, oxygen-dependence, inevitability, link with aging, irreversibility, and association with disintegration and decay – may be explained as logical side-effects of mitochondrial failure. Yet the role of mitochondria in human life and death has been overlooked for over four decades in the legal and bioethical literature, which has focused instead on processes at the whole-organism level. Challenges remain however: if brain death and bodily death are not biologically equivalent, this may prove problematic for organ donation’s “dead donor rule,” which requires organs to be transplanted only from the bodies of dead consenting donors, not from those who are still dying. Nevertheless, brain death could be retained as a legal fiction satisfying the dead donor rule, which would allow its societal benefits to persist. Of fundamental importance is the principle that future patients be adequately informed regarding brain death, in order to ensure legally valid, informed consent for organ donation."

Games, not games

I love my Mountain
July 20st, 2014

David O'Reilly's work is outstanding and now he has created a wonderful game.

Via The Atlantic: "Once one has witnessed events such as this in Mountain, its messages become ever more urgent and disorienting. I cannot tell if my life is going in circles or if I am making any progress, it tells me one morning. Later, as I’ve zoomed out into space amidst a snowstorm, it laments, Why am I alone? During a ruddy, overcast dusk it opines, If I ever see another thing like me, will it like me?

As time wears on, I get the sense that my mountain’s existential angst is intensifying. How long have I been here? it asks. Or, I can do whatever I want! it declares. Or Things are coming together, it opines. And forebodingly, as dawn’s rosy fingers break yet again, Here is another day. How many days do I have?

These interjections seem too anthropocentric to make sense for a game in which 'you are mountain.' If a mountain could talk, would it express existential doubt and dread? Would it play the Woody Allen neurotic, the Prufrock twerp content to let earthly waste accumulate upon it without objection? At this stage, the player has a choice: to dismiss Mountain as a curious, boring conceit, or to treat it as something more serious."

Thanks to Marcus Schmickler!

Related: I also very much enjoy the games by Tale of Tales.
Check out their blog.

Thanks to Tim Fehske!

Quantum state may be a real thing

July 8th, 2014

Via Ars Technica: "At the very heart of quantum mechanics lies a monster waiting to consume unwary minds. This monster goes by the name The Nature of Reality. The greatest of physicists have taken one look into its mouth, saw the size of its teeth, and were consumed. Niels Bohr denied the existence of the monster after he nonchalantly (and very quietly) exited the monster's lair muttering 'shut up and calculate.' Einstein caught a glimpse of the teeth and fainted. He was reportedly rescued by Erwin Schrödinger at great personal risk, but neither really recovered from their encounter with the beast."

70 of the Most Useful Websites on the Internet

by Johnny Webber
June 28th, 2014

Via Daily Zen List:
"1. netflixroulette.net — Find something random to watch on Netflix.
2. pintsinthesun.co.uk — Find somewhere to drink a pint in the sun.
3. gfycat.com — Upload your gifs.
4. youconvertit.com — Convert documents.
5. ninite.com — Download all the free software you want at the same time.
6. squirt.io — Speed read the web one word at a time.
7. shouldiremoveit.com — Find out which applications you should remove from your computer.
8. avoidhumans.com — Find places to go in public that are not crowded.
9. keybr.com — Practice your touch typing.
10. oldversion.com — Get old versions of software.
11. readability-score.com — Find out how readable text is.
12. deadmansswitch.net — Have emails sent when you die.
13. mint.com — Budget your money.
14. roadtrippers.com — Plan your route with the best lodging and attractions.
15. duckduckgo.com — A search engine that is not following you.
16. padmapper.com — Maps out possible apartments/homes that fit your criteria.
17. zillow.com — Another great source for finding your next home.
18. printfriendly.com — Make any webpage print friendly.
19. printwhatyoulike.com — Print precisely what you want from any webpage.
20. privnote.com — Write a note to someone that will self-destruct after they read it.
21. freecycle.org — A network of people giving away free stuff in their towns.
22. couchsurfing.org — Crash on someone’s couch anywhere in the world.
23. recipepuppy.com — Search for recipes based on the ingredients you have.
24. pipl.com — A search engine for finding people.
25. charitynavigator.org — Evaluates various charities.
26. newsmap.jp — Popular news headlines.
27. radioreference.com — Listen to radio channels across the nation.
28. jimmyr.com — Link aggregator.
29. wolframalpha.com — A computational knowledge engine.
30. heavens-above.com — Follow satellites and constellations.
31. whatismyip.com — Figure out you I.P. address.
32. spreeder.com — Improve reading speed and comprehension.
33. simplynoise.com — Listen to white noise.
34. camelcamelcamel.com — Tracks prices for any product.
35. ptable.com — An interactive periodic table.
36. retailmenot.com — Find coupons for just about anything.
37. searchtempest.com — Search all of craigslist with one search.
38. join.me — Peek in on somebody’s computer screen.
39. thistothat.com — Find out the best way to glue this to that.
40. woorank.com — Find out what your website is missing, how you can improve it, and how to make Google recognize it better.
41. scribblemaps.com — Draw on maps then share them with friends.
42. mailvu.com — Video email.
43. rhymer.com — Online rhyming dictionary.
44. homestyler.com — Design your dream home.
45. wetransfer.com — An easy way to send big files.
46. pastebin.com — A place to paste text.
47. idlekeyboard.com — Make it sound like you are hard at work.
48. dropbox.com — Backup your sensitive document online.
49. seatguru.com — Find out where the best seats are on your plane flight.
50. unlistmy.info — Find out which websites store data about you, and tell them to unlist your info.
51. twofoods.com — Compare two foods..
52. gasbuddy.com — Find local gas prices.
53. sleepyti.me — Plan out your sleep schedule better.
54. ripetrack.com — Find out when certain fruits are ripe .
55. compassionpit.com — Talk out your problems with others, or help others yourself.
56. paperbackswap.com — Swap books with others.
57. swole.me — Plan out your meals better.
58. weatherspark.com — A graphical look at the weather.
59. network-tools.com — Various network tools.
60. amazon.com — The best place to buy things online.
61. writecheck.com — Correct grammar and check for plagiarism.
62. wakerupper.com — Send yourself a wake-up call.
63. pcpartpicker.com — Plan out your next PC build.
64. nophonetrees.com — Talk to an actual person instead of a machine when you call customer service.
65. loads.in — Find out how long it takes websites to load.
66. calorieking.com — Find nutrition information on various foods.
67. manualslib.com — A database of PDF manuals for various products.
68. eatthismuch.com — Create meal plans to meet your nutrition targets.
69. keepmeout.com — Lock yourself out of time wasting websites.
70. glassdoor.com — Research what it is like to work with certain companies."

An Occult History of the Television Set

by Geoff Manaugh
June 24th, 2014

Via BLDGBLOG: "The origin of the television set was heavily shrouded in both spiritualism and the occult, Stefan Andriopoulos writes in his new book Ghostly Apparitions. In fact, as its very name implies, the television was first conceived as a technical device for seeing at a distance: like the telephone (speaking at a distance) and telescope (viewing at a distance), the television was intended as an almost magical box through which we could watch distant events unfold, a kind of technological crystal ball."

Thanks to Chris Harvey!

Important peculiarities of memory

by memory researcher Robert Bjork
May 29th, 2014

Via Mindhacks: „Important peculiarities of the human memory system:

–A remarkable capacity for storing information is coupled with a highly fallible retrieval process.

What is accessible in memory is highly dependent on the current environmental, interpersonal, emotional and body-state cues.

–Retrieving information from memory is a dynamic process that alters the subsequent state of the system.

–Access to competing memory representations regresses towards the earlier representation over time."

Why our guilt about consumption is all-consuming

by Slavoj Žižek
May 25th, 2014

Via Lacanian Ink: "One should not fear denouncing sustainability itself, the big mantra of ecologists from the developed countries, as an ideological myth based on the idea of self-enclosed circulation where nothing is wasted. Upon a closer look, one can establish that sustainability always refers to a limited process that enforces its balance at the expense of its larger environs. Think about the proverbial sustainable house of a rich, ecologically enlightened manager, located somewhere in a green isolated valley close to a forest and lake, with solar energy, use of waste as manure, windows open to natural light, etc: the costs of building such a house (to the environment, not only financial costs) make it prohibitive to the large majority. For a sincere ecologist, the optimal habitat is a big city where millions live close together: although such a city produces a lot of waste and pollution, its per capita pollution is much lower than that of a modern family living in the countryside. How does our manager reach his office from his country house? Probably with a helicopter, to avoid polluting the grass around his house …

To recap, we thus primarily buy commodities neither on account of their utility nor as status symbols; we buy them to get the experience provided by them, we consume them in order to make our life pleasurable and meaningful.

Here is an exemplary case of cultural capitalism: Starbucks' ad campaign 'It's not just what you're buying. It's what you're buying into.' After celebrating the quality of the coffee itself, the ad goes on: 'But, when you buy Starbucks, whether you realise it or not, you're buying into something bigger than a cup of coffee. You're buying into a coffee ethic. Through our Starbucks Shared Planet programme, we purchase more Fair Trade coffee than any company in the world, ensuring that the farmers who grow the beans receive a fair price for their hard work. And, we invest in and improve coffee-growing practices and communities around the globe. It's good coffee karma. … Oh, and a little bit of the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee helps furnish the place with comfy chairs, good music, and the right atmosphere to dream, work and chat in. We all need places like that these days. When you choose Starbucks, you are buying a cup of coffee from a company that cares. No wonder it tastes so good.'

The cultural surplus is here spelled out: the price is higher than elsewhere since what you are really buying is the "coffee ethic" that includes care for the environment, social responsibility towards the producers, plus a place where you yourself can participate in communal life.

This is how capitalism, at the level of consumption, has integrated the legacy of 1968, the critique of alienated consumption: authentic experience matters. A recent Hilton hotels ad consists of a simple claim: 'Travel doesn't only get us from place A to place B. It should also make us a better person.' Can one even imagine such an ad a decade ago? The latest scientific expression of this new spirit is the rise of a new discipline, happiness studies – how is it that, in our era of spiritualised hedonism, when the goal of life is directly defined as happiness, anxiety and depression are exploding?

Thanks to Manu Burghart!

The Hanged Man

Black and White World Map

April 16th, 2014

Via Wallpapered: "This is a standard black and white terrain world map showing relief. It also includes country and city labels, so is the perfect educational tool for an office, study or bedroom."

Related, friends and totally fabulous: 5qm.


April 14th, 2014

Via Wikipedia: „Homeostasis — also spelled homoeostasis or homœostasis (from Greek: ὅμοιος, hómoios, similar, and στάσις, stásis, standing still) — is the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant. Examples of homeostasis include the regulation of temperature and the balance between acidity and alkalinity (pH). It is a process that maintains the stability of the human body's internal environment in response to changes in external conditions.

The concept was described by Claude Bernard in 1865 and the word was coined by Walter Bradford Cannon in 1926, 1929 and 1932. Although the term was originally used to refer to processes within living organisms, it is frequently applied to automatic control systems such as thermostats. Homeostasis requires a sensor to detect changes in the condition to be regulated, an effector mechanism that can vary that condition; and a negative feedback connection between the two."

Palo Santo

Limitless dimensions
April 12th, 2014

Via Wikipedia: "Bursera graveolens, known in Spanish as palo santo (holy wood) is a wild tree native from Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula to Peru and Venezuela that inhabits the South American Gran Chaco region (northern Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and the Brazilian Mato Grosso). It is also found in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and on the Galapagos islands. The tree belongs to the same family (Burseraceae) as frankincense and myrrh. It is widely used in folk medicine for stomach ache, as sudorific, and as liniment for rheumatism. Aged heartwood is rich in terpenes such as limonene and α-terpineol."

Thanks to Sandra Münchenbach!

Let’s talk about search

by Lisa Gold
March 18th, 2014

Via Lisa Gold's blog: "Yes, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that most students are lazy and want to get quick and good enough results. But the problem is that they don’t know what they don’t know. (As the ERIAL researchers noted, 'students were just as unaware of the extent of their own information illiteracy as everyone else.') They have no idea that there’s a world of information out there that you can’t find through a Google search. Most of it has never been digitized and probably never will be (for lack of funding and copyright concerns, among other reasons). Some has been digitized but is locked in proprietary databases and the invisible web. Most books and articles published in the US after 1922 are still under copyright, so even if they’ve been digitized chances are they aren’t free (unless you borrow them from a library). Even if information has been indexed in Google, you may never find it if you don’t know how to properly search for it.

Google could certainly improve the situation, but it is a company of engineers trying to make search as easy and simple as possible for the vast majority of users, giving them a single magic box into which they can type anything and get results, even if they’ve spelled the keywords wrong or don’t really know what they are looking for. Some of the improvements they’ve made over time have made it frustrating for advanced users like me, such as ignoring the terms I’ve actually typed and substituting what they assume I’m looking for, or filtering my results based on my past search history. And if you want more advanced search options, Google doesn’t make it easy to find or learn about them, and their help articles often aren’t helpful at all. Search is not just an engineering problem to be solved– it is both an art and a science, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But no matter how good or flawed a tool like Google search is, anyone can learn how to use it well and get far better results.

A number of people have asked for some advice and tips on search, so here you go. [...]

A final note: Improving your search skills is important, but it’s even more important that you think critically and evaluate your search results and sources.


Your voice betrays your personality in a split second
March 14th, 2014

Via New Scientist: "We know that our voices can transmit subtle signals about our gender, age, even body strength and certain personality traits, but Phil McAleer at the University of Glasgow and his colleagues wondered whether we make an instant impression. To find out, they recorded 64 people as they read a passage. They then extracted the word hello and asked 320 people to rate the voices on a scale of 1 to 9 for one of 10 perceived personality traits – including trustworthiness, dominance and attractiveness.

Although it's not clear how accurate such snap judgements are, what is apparent is that we all make them, and very quickly. 'We were surprised by just how similar people's ratings were,' says McAleer. Using a scale in which 0 represents no agreement on a perceived trait and 1 reflects complete agreement, all 10 traits scored on average 0.92 – meaning most people agreed very closely to what extent each voice represented each trait."


by King Crimson
March 13th, 2014

"Now in this faraway land
Strange that the palms of my hands
Should be damp with expectancy

Spring, and the air's turning mild
City lights and the glimpse of a child
Of the alleyway infantry

Friends – do they know what I mean?
Rain and the gathering green
Of an afternoon out of town

But lord I had to go
The trail was laid too slow behind me
To face the call of fame
Or make a drunkard's name for me
Though now this better life
Has brought a different understanding
And from these endless days
Shall come a broader sympathy
And though I count the hours
To be alone's no injury

My home was a place by the sand
Cliffs and a military band
Blew an air of normality"


Why College Students Are Dying to Get

Into Death Classes
March 8th, 2014

Via The Wall Street Journal: "At Kean University, students are dying (as it were) to get into Norma Bowe's class Death in Perspective, which has sometimes carried a three-year waiting list. On one field trip to a local coroner's office, Dr. Bowe's students were shown three naked cadavers on metal tables. One person had died from a gunshot, the other from suicide and the third by drowning.

The last corpse appeared overweight but wasn't; he had expanded like a water balloon. A suspect in a hit-and-run case, he had fled the scene, been chased by police, abandoned his car and jumped into the Passaic River. On the autopsy table, he looked surprised, his mouth splayed open, as if he realized he had made a mistake. As the class clustered around, a technician began to carve his torso open. Some students gagged or scurried out, unable to stand the sight or the smell.

This grim visit was just one of the excursions for Dr. Bowe's class. Every semester, students also leave the campus in Union, New Jersey, to visit a cemetery, a maximum-security prison (to meet murderers), a hospice, a crematory and a funeral home, where they pick out caskets for themselves. The homework is also unusual: Students are required to write goodbye letters to dead loved ones and to compose their own eulogies and wills."


The next big fashion movement?
March 2nd, 2014

Via The Guardian: "Blending in is the new standing out – and Larry David is this year’s unlikely style icon. Welcome to Normcore, where dressing like a tourist is the ultimate fashion statement.

Fashion, by its very nature, is a peacock of an industry – it is bright, extrovert and likes to show off. There is, however, always a minority that take a different approach to dressing – one that avoids the print-clashing, kerazy shades and artful poses of street-style photographer bait. They go for something that is – well, there’s no other way to put this – boring.

New York magazine ran an article this weekend defining the look as Normcore – clothes that are so anonymous that, as the article says, from the back their wearer could just as easily be art kids or middle-aged, middle-American tourists. [...]

This is an attribute of fashion that those working in it – who have spent the past 10 years at the bleeding edge of fashion as art – sometimes forget about. The flipside – function over art – feels new and a bit subversive.

Welcome to fashion, 2014 – where normal is the new cool. Good luck telling the tourists and top stylists apart."

Thanks to Manu Burghart!
And off we go...

My favorite "Dear Coquette fun-sized advice"

If you have ever wondered
February 27th, 2014

Via Kateoplis: "Do you have general advice for seventeen-year-old girls?
As you develop your identity, seek as little approval as possible.

My boyfriend writes off everything I say under the guise that I read too many books. I can’t tell if I’m being a pretentious douchebag or if he’s just a little insecure. Who’s to blame?
He’s to blame for his ignorance and disrespect. You’re to blame for your shitty choice in boyfriends.

What is the cure to narcissism?

Which Girls character would you be?
I’d be the HBO executive who cancels the show.

Is it always a bad idea to forgive a cheater?
No, it’s actually a good idea to forgive a cheater, but that doesn’t mean forget, and that sure as hell doesn’t mean give back your trust.

How do you say no to someone who continuously asks you out and refuses to stop, even upon request?
Tell the creep to fuck off. Be rude. Be loud. Embarrass him for disrespecting you, and when he acts all butthurt and calls you a bitch, don’t feel the least bit bad about it.

What do you do when you sorely miss a jerk you broke up with a few months ago?
Personally? I rebound date wildly inappropriate men until I’m filled with self-loathing and regret. I also tend to sublimate my frustration with exercise until I’m in really good shape. Do whatever you gotta do, babe, just don’t fall back into the jerk’s orbit.

Why am I attracted to guys who always have one foot out the door?
So that you can experience all of the emotional drama without taking any of the emotional risk.

What do you think about monogamy?
I think it’s limiting, problematic, and too often confused with fidelity.

Please introduce me to a new sex position.
Try the one where you make sober, unflinching eye contact with your partner while sharing a deep emotional connection."

As the price of art rises, is its value plummeting?

February 12th, 2014

Via The Washington Post: "Going back as far as the Renaissance, artists have had an uneasy relationship to patrons and the money they offer. And the fear of mass commercialization has been a perennial theme of art at least since the days of the pop artists a half century ago. But something different is in the air today. The level of disgust is deeper and more visceral. The art world has collapsed into the world of commerce, and while there may be celebrations at Christie’s, there is an almost apocalyptic level of gloom everywhere else.

There are two basic critical responses to today’s art market. One argues that the market has nothing to do with art, and that whatever happens in the market is irrelevant to the actual content, meaning and love of art. Art is to the art market as sailing is to the business of hawking mega-yachts to multibillionaires. The other view, succinctly stated by Perl, is more pessimistic: The art market is ruining art, spiritually and as a cultural practice. In this understanding, the mega-yachts have taken over the bay and are crushing the finely wrought vintage sailing vessels beneath their hulking super-tonnage.

Both are true, in a way. If you retreat to certain museums that have kept their independence and stayed true to their values, it is still possible to tune out the noise of the market. But Perl is right, too, because the market isn’t just a distracting din of biennials and art fairs and blaring headlines about new record prices. The market is corrupting art, determining the kinds of art that get made and sold, changing the topics of art and ultimately controlling its future. In the worse case, it is also corrupting artists themselves, enticing them and rewarding them for bad, meretricious and superficial art.

Perhaps the biggest impact, however, is on the stories we tell about art, and today the only stories we seem to be telling are stories about the market for art. [...]

It’s a win-win for everyone. But not for art, if there is such a thing anymore."

How Music Hijacks Our Perception of Time

A composer details how music works its magic on our brains
February 9th, 2014

Via Nautilus: "In recent years, numerous studies have shown how music hijacks our relationship with everyday time. For instance, more drinks are sold in bars when with slow-tempo music, which seems to make the bar a more enjoyable environment, one in which patrons want to linger—and order another round. Similarly, consumers spend 38 percent more time in the grocery store when the background music is slow. Familiarity is also a factor. Shoppers perceive longer shopping times when they are familiar with the background music in the store, but actually spend more time shopping when the music is novel. Novel music is perceived as more pleasurable, making the time seem to pass quicker, and so shoppers stay in the stores longer than they may imagine. [...]

But it is Schubert, more than any other composer, who succeeded in radically commandeering temporal perception. Nowhere is this powerful control of time perception more forceful than in the String Quintet. Schubert composed the four-movement work in 1828, during the feverish last two months of his life. (He died at age 31.) In the work, he turns contrasting distortions of perceptual time into musical structure. Following the opening melody in the first Allegro ma non troppo movement, the second Adagio movement seems to move slowly and be far longer than it really is, then hastens and shortens before returning to a perception of long and slow. The Scherzo that follows reverses the pattern, creating the perception of brevity and speed, followed by a section that feels longer and slower, before returning to a percept of short and fast. The conflict of objective and subjective time is so forcefully felt in the work that it ultimately becomes unified in terms of structural organization."

The science of happily ever after

In love we only get three wishes
February 8th, 2014

Via New York Post: „To properly fall in love, you need to have sound levels of liking and lusting, Tashiro writes. It sounds simple, but maintaining both factors is complicated — especially when you take into account attrition rates.

Like and lust diminish over time, but at different rates. According to studies, liking declines at a rate of 3 percent per year, while lust deteriorates faster at 8 percent per year. Clearly, putting our eggs in the like basket is a much smarter investment strategy, Tashiro says. [...]

A grown-up love story should not be a fairy tale or a romantic tragedy, but instead should be approached as a mystery, he writes. If the goal is to find the truth in love, to search for love that is real and enduring, then love cannot be left to fate.

One thing you can do is to take seriously those early red flags, the peccadilloes in our loved ones we’re certain we can change.

If you choose someone with traits that drive you crazy or make you sad while you’re dating, then those traits will make you crazy or sad for decades to come
, he writes. So you want to choose well, because what you see is what you get.

„Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam“

by Cato the Elder
February 1st, 2014

Via Wikipedia: "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam or Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem esse delendam (English: Furthermore, (moreover) I consider that Carthage must be destroyed) often abbreviated to Ceterum censeo, Carthago delenda est, or elenda est Carthago (English: Carthage must be destroyed) is a Latin oratorical phrase which was in popular use in the Roman Republic in the 2nd Century BC during the latter years of the Punic Wars against Carthage, by the party urging a foreign policy which sought to eliminate any further threat to the Roman Republic from its ancient rival Carthage, which had been defeated twice before and had a tendency after each defeat to rapidly rebuild its strength and engage in further warfare. It represented a policy of the extirpation of the enemies of Rome who engaged in aggression, and the rejection of the peace treaty as a means of ending conflict. The phrase was most famously uttered frequently and persistently almost to the point of absurdity by the Roman senator Cato the Elder (234-149 BC), as a part of his speeches."

Related: Zabriskie Point's Final Scene


The Communicative Functions of Emoticons in Workplace E-Mails
January 26th, 2014

Via Wiley Online Library: "CMC research presents emoticons as visual representations of writers' emotions. We argue that the emoticons in authentic workplace e-mails do not primarily indicate writers' emotions. Rather, they provide information about how an utterance is supposed to be interpreted. We show that emoticons function as contextualization cues, which serve to organize interpersonal relations in written interaction. They serve 3 communicative functions. First, when following signatures, emoticons function as markers of a positive attitude. Second, when following utterances that are intended to be interpreted as humorous, they are joke/irony markers. Third, they are hedges: when following expressive speech acts (such as thanks, greetings, etc.) they function as strengtheners and when following directives (such as requests, corrections, etc.) they function as softeners."


Via Harvard Business Review: "What percent of your work day do you spend on email?
If you guessed 10% or 20%, sorry: Studies of office workers peg the average at 28%.
Maybe that’s average but that’s not me, you say? No need to guess. These days there are a number of auto-analytics tools that not only help you quantify how much time you spend on email, but also analyze other email behaviors to help you work more productively. Which of those tools offer the most potential? To find out we went to a scientist, founder and CEO of WolframAlpha, Stephen Wolfram. He’s undertaken a thorough “personal analytics” of his work routines. He told us about four analytical techniques that are relatively easy to use but provide new views into your mail habits that can help him tame the inbox."


by Lucy Glendinning
January 10th, 2013

Little bird up in a tree
Looked down and sang a song to me
Of how it began

Na na na na

The trout in the shiny brook
Gave a worm another look
And told me not to worry
About my life

Na na na na

Tree in my own backyard
Stands all alone
Bears fruit for me
And it tastes so good

Where's my pretty bird?
He must have flown away
If I keep singin'
He'll come back someday

Dawn, bird's still gone
Guess I'll go mow the lawn

What a day, what a day
Ooo, what a beautiful day this is

Via Wikipedia: "Little Bird is a song written by Dennis Wilson, Stephen Kalinich, and Brian Wilson (uncredited) for the American rock band The Beach Boys. It was released on their 1968 album Friends as well as being released as the B-side of the Friends single. The single peaked at number 47 in the US and number 25 in the UK."

How To Stay Sane

The Art of Revising Your Inner Storytelling
January 6th, 2014

Via Brain Pickings: "Another key obstruction to our sanity is our chronic aversion to being wrong, entwined with our damaging fear of the unfamiliar. Perry cautions:

We all like to think we keep an open mind and can change our opinions in the light of new evidence, but most of us seem to be geared to making up our minds very quickly. Then we process further evidence not with an open mind but with a filter, only acknowledging the evidence that backs up our original impression. It is too easy for us to fall into the rap of believing that being right is more important than being open to what might be.

If we practice detachment from our thoughts we learn to observe them as though we are taking a bird’s eye view of our own thinking.
When we do this, we might find that our thinking belongs to an older, and different, story to the one we are now living.

Perry concludes:

We need to look at the repetitions in the stories we tell ourselves [and] at the process of the stories rather than merely their surface content. Then we can begin to experiment with changing the filter through which we look at the world, start to edit the story and thus regain flexibility where we have been getting stuck.

Complement How To Stay Sane with radical psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich’s 1948 list of the six rules for creative sanity."

End of 2013

Processing ten items
31st December, 2013

Anthems This year in retrospect seems to be all about letting go and change. Induced by the take-off of my soulmate on his hero's journey one Frank Zappa anthem popped back up into consciousness. At the same time there was another track that was played to me over and over again until it became an earworm.
Book Reading Barry Long’s clear words on sexuality made my jaw drop. It is all there in this little book and why did nobody tell us about it when we started? It literally belongs in the hands of every single teenage girl, now.
Bullshit Went to the viewing of a few dozen apartments and am almost ready to write a dissertation about it. Rents and letting fees risen insanely high. What you pay and what you get for it is way out of proportion and there seems to be quite some greed involved.
Concept The live experience of other minds and my own breaking out in laughter when a belief is tested through The Work by Byron Katie was amazing: Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true? How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? Who would you be without the thought? – Turn it around.
Concert Dean Blunt touched my soul and had me make peace with my New Wave induced taste. Found myself between panic attacks and the security of a best friend’s shoulder at Blunt's Cologne concert. Thank you Christian S for all the music and everything beyond.
Film First I thought of The Act of Killing because I just couldn’t believe what I was witnessing when I saw it for the first time but what really blew my mind this year were Terre Thaemlitz's films on his Soulessness publication. I am very grateful for the deep conversation with her this summer. Will stay true to my fandom.
Food and Friendship I made it through this 404 year above all because of the amazing food Manu Burghart provided and her knightly friendship. Very, very real witches brew.
Discussion Could and should computers and turntables be accepted as instruments into the qualifying exams at music academies? I still and firmly believe: Yes, they can and shall.
Speech I love to read the commencement speech This is water by David Foster Wallace to my students. To see excerpts of it made into a video is great. More of this, please.
Quote This too shall pass (An old sufi story) is a proverb indicating that all material conditions, positive or negative, are temporary.
So, here we are... And what is next?

When You Criticize Someone...

...You Make It Harder for that Person to Change
December 22nd, 2013

Via HBR Blog Network: "If everything worked out perfectly in your life, what would you be doing in ten years?

Such a question opens us up to fresh possibilities, to reflect on what matters most to us, and even what deep values might guide us through life. This approach gives managers a tool for coaching their teams to get better results.
Contrast that mind-opening query with a conversation about what’s wrong with you, and what you need to do to fix yourself. That line of thinking shuts us down, puts us on the defensive, and narrows our possibilities to rescue operations. Managers should keep this in mind, particularly during performance reviews.
That question about your perfect life in ten years comes from Richard Boyatzis, a professor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western, and an old friend and colleague. His recent research on the best approach to coaching has used brain imaging to analyze how coaching affects the brain differently when you focus on dreams instead of failings. These findings have great implications for how to best help someone – or yourself — improve.
As I quoted Boyatzis in my book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, Talking about your positive goals and dreams activates brain centers that open you up to new possibilities. But if you change the conversation to what you should do to fix yourself, it closes you down. [...]

Bottom line: don’t focus on only on weaknesses, but on hopes and dreams. It’s what our brains are wired to do."

Time is on my side

Why Does Time Fly as We Get Older?
December 21st, 2013

Via Gaines on Brains: "We’ll probably never know why, exactly, but psychologists have put forth some interesting theories:

1. We gauge time by memorable events.
As William James hypothesized, we may be measuring past intervals of time by the number of events that can be recalled in that period. Imagine a 40-something mom experiencing the repetitive, stressful daily grind work and family life. The abundant memories of her high school years (homecoming football games, prom, first car, first kiss, graduation) may, compared to now, seem like much longer than the mere four years that they were.

2. The amount of time passed relative to one’s age varies.
For a 5-year-old, one year is 20% of their entire life. For a 50-year-old, however, one year is only 2% of their life. This “ratio theory,” proposed by Janet in 1877, suggests that we are constantly comparing time intervals with the total amount of time we’ve already lived.

3. Our biological clock slows as we age.
With aging may come the slowing of some sort of internal pacemaker. Relative to the unstoppable clocks and calendars, external time suddenly appears to pass more quickly.

4. As we age, we pay less attention to time.
When you’re a kid on December 1, you’re faithfully counting down the days until Santa brings your favorite Hot Wheels down the chimney. When you’re an adult on December 1, you’re a little more focused on work, bills, family life, scheduling, deadlines, travel plans, Christmas shopping, and all of that other boring adult stuff. The more attention one focuses on tasks such as these, the less one will notice the passage of time.

5. Stress, stress, and more stress.
As concluded by Wittmann and Lehnhoff (and replicated by Friedman and Janssen), the feeling that there is not enough time to get things done may be reinterpreted as the feeling that time is passing too quickly. Even older individuals (who are, more often than not, retired from work) may continue to feel similarly due to physical handicaps or diminished cognitive ability.

While the feeling may be inescapable, appease yourself by knowing that time is notliterally getting faster as you age. Take a moment to slow down this Christmas, enjoy time with your family and friends, and be assured that the fancy Rolex that Santa brings you next Wednesday is doing its job just fine."

The British Library Puts 1.000.000 Images into the Public Domain

Making Them Free to Reuse & Remix
December 14th, 2013

Via Open Culture: "...the British Library came out with its own announcement on Thursday:

We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain. The images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of.

The librarians behind the project freely admit that they don’t exactly have a great handle on the images in the collection. They know what books the images come from. But they don’t know much about the particulars of each visual. And so they’re turning to crowdsourcing for answers. In fairly short order, the Library plans to release tools that will let willing participants gather information and deepen our understanding of everything in the Flickr Commons collection.

You can jump into the entire collection here, or view a set of highlights here.

Thanks to Anne Ardina Brouwers!

Inner voices

The science of how we talk to ourselves in our heads
December 10th, 2013

Via Research Digest: „Our inner voices usually sound to us like our external spoken voice - instances of inner speaking occurring in another person's voice are very rare. Just like our spoken voice, the voice of inner speaking can also express degrees of volume and emotion.

Inner speaking is perceived as wilful - something done, rather than experienced passively. There is huge variation in the frequency with which people speak to themselves in their mind. In one study with 30 participants that involved ten beeps a day for three days, some reported no instances of inner speaking at all, while others reported inner speaking for 75 per cent of the beeps. On average inner speaking was reported at 23 per cent of beeps, although note that doesn't mean people are speaking to themselves 23 per cent of the entire time.

Another curious variation in inner speaking is where people report its location.
Some people describe it as occurring in a particular location in their head; others say in their head but are no more specific; still others say their inner speaking occurs in their chest.

Also notable is some people's descriptions of inner speaking occurring while they are speaking aloud - with the two voices saying different things. There are also reports of inner speaking that has no meaning, and inner speaking that is at a much faster rate that would be physically possible for aloud speaking. [...]

Inner speaking is also different from unsymbolised thinking according to the researchers. Unsymbolised thinking is a thoughty experience about a distinct concept or issue but does not involve words, pictures or symbols. Inner speaking also is not sensory awareness - when we're focused on a specific sensory aspect of the outside world or our bodies."

Line Breaks & Other Violent Crimes

from Los Angeles
December 9th, 2013

Via Line Breaks & Other Violent Crimes: "It always happens this way. The kids start lining up in front of the school bus again and you think about dressing up for Halloween and fail to dress up for Halloween and you take a slow shower without shampoo and it’s December. The year-end lists start popping up everywhere and you don’t recognize half of the things on them. Your checking account looks sort of hungry and mopey but the screen(s) you’re sitting in front of are offering you hundreds of amazing deals on things you need to buy for all the people in your life who mean a lot to you. You haven’t read the book you wanted to read last summer, your feet are cold, you’ve forgotten to make a doctor’s appointment about that thing that’s been bugging you, you caught some sort of virus from an airplane trip, you’re eating too much but fuck it, you’ve gradually begun drinking two cups of coffee in the morning instead of one and now you get a headache if you try to go back. You had that one night full of soft lights and dancing and garlic toast and a coat that wasn’t yours. You have said I love you hundreds of times and actually meant it. There are songs in every car asking you to sing them and smile. You take a minute to sit down and it’s December. You remember how lucky you are. You realize it’s been a hard year. You think about all the things coming up next year that are going to make it an incredible one. You’ve stumbled over something full of grace. You’ve cried in different places every month of the last year. You think if you could collect all the tears in a big jar and pour them out over the balcony, yelling the whole time, yelling louder than you’ve ever yelled before, you might not have to do any of this again. You want to do all of this again. It’s December and the air is crisp and your arms smell like firewood. You’re tired. You’re still alive."

404 is the Top Word of 2013 followed by fail

Global Language Monitor
November 12, 2013

Via Gizmodo: "No matter how you feel about 2013 it's depressing to learn that the two most popular words of the year, according to the Global Language Monitor, are 404 and fail. You can't paint a clearer picture than that."

The Problem Isn’t Technology — It’s You

by Mat Honan
October 29th, 2013

Via Wired: "We’re living in a remarkable time, when it will soon be impossible to be truly alone. Waldeinsamkeit becomes more and more endangered with every cell tower. And if you’re the kind of person who can only leave email behind when you go off the grid, that means you’re going to need a new plan. Our streets are already filled with people staring into their hands. So are our dinner tables and cafès, even our living rooms and bedrooms. Rather than focusing on taking temporary breaks from technology, we need the discipline to live with it at all times. We can’t rely on a mountain or a remote wasteland to create waldeinsamkeit; we have to create it ourselves. [...]

Here’s a better idea: Shut up and bring your iPhone into the backcountry, but resist the urge to open the email app. If you can’t manage that, delete or turn off the account. Don’t worry, it’ll come back. [...]

The phone isn’t the problem. The problem is us—our inability to step away from email and games and inessential data, our inability to look up, be it at an alpine lake or at family members. We won’t be able to get away from it all for very much longer. So it’s vitally important that each of us learns how to live with a persistent connection, everywhere we go, whether it’s in the wilderness or at a dinner party."

The Word On The Street

Große Großzügigkeit
October 28th, 2013

Via Wikipedia: "Generosity (also called largess or largesse) is the habit of giving without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need. Often equated with charity as a virtue, generosity is widely accepted in society as a desirable trait.[...]
Over the last five centuries in the English speaking world, generosity developed from being primarily the description of an ascribed status pertaining to the elite nobility to being an achieved mark of admirable personal quality and action capable of being exercised in theory by any person who had learned virtue and noble character (Smith 2009)."

Via Wikipedia: "Courtesy comes from old French 'courteis' (12th century) and is gentle politeness and courtly manners. In the Middle Ages in Europe, the behaviour expected of the gentry was compiled in courtesy books. One of the most influential of these was Il Cortegiano (The Courtier) which not only covered basic etiquette and decorum but also provided models of sophisticated conversation and intellectual skill.
In medieval India too, nobility and royalty were expected to display courteous behaviour. The concept was described by the Sanskrit word, daksinya, which meant kindness and consideration expressed in a sophisticated and elegant way."

"Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us, but within that inch, we are free."

by Alan Moore
October 19th, 2013

Via Wikipedia: "Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. [...]

The word integrity stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). In this context, integrity is the inner sense of wholeness deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others have integrity to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold."

“Brain training makes you more intelligent.” – WRONG

5 Truths And Lies About Your Brain
October 16th, 2013

Via United Academics: "There are two forms of activity that must be distinguished: working memory capacity and general fluid intelligence. The first one refers to the ability to keep information in mind or easily retrievable, particularly when we are performing various tasks simultaneously. The second implies the ability to do complex reasoning and solve problems. Most brain trainings are only directed at the first one: the working memory capacity. So yes, you can and should use these games or apps to improve your mental capacity of memorizing. But that won’t make you any better at solving math problems."

Also, check out This → ←That – A site that allows you to find the midpoint between two seemingly unrelated terms.

I / Must lie

by Dylan Thomas
October 15th, 2013


Zen Habits
October 12th, 2013

Via Zen Habits: "Breathe. If you feel overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions. If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present. If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more. Breathe, and enjoy each moment of this life. They’re too fleeting and few to waste."

Thanks to Manu Burghart!


or The Science of Why Girls Love flowers
October 2nd, 2013

Via Wikipedia: "Oxytocin is a mammalian neurohypophysial hormone that acts primarily as a neuromodulator in the brain.
Oxytocin plays roles in sexual reproduction, in particular during and after childbirth. It is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and uterus during labor, facilitating birth, maternal bonding, and, after stimulation of the nipples, breastfeeding. Both childbirth and milk ejection result from positive feedback mechanisms.
Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin's role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the "bonding hormone". There is some evidence that oxytocin promotes ethnocentric behavior, incorporating the trust and empathy of in-groups with their suspicion and rejection of outsiders. Furthermore, genetic differences in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) have been associated with maladaptive social traits such as aggressive behaviour."

Via NeuroBrainstorm: "Social norms such as giving a girl flowers to show love have evolved for a scientific reason. The origin of this practice is not quite a romance story, rather a specific drug reaction in the brain and body. [...]
Many flowers contain chemicals called Prolyl Endopeptidase inhibitors. The function of these chemicals could be to attract pollinating organisms like bees. They are in the odor so they get absorbed into your body when sniffed. Prolyl Endopeptidase inhibitors increase Oxytocin, α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone, and Gonadotropin-releasing hormone.
Oxytocin will induce love and memory. α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone is an activator of mental sexual arousal. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone is an activator of testosterone production and thus physical sexual arousal.
The effects of these chemicals are anti-depressant in general. The inhibiting strength of these chemicals are significantly more than dietary sources of these inhibitors, even compared to the herbal anti-depressant rhidolia rosea."

Happiness = Reality - Expectations

Why Generation Y yuppies are unhappy
September 22nd, 2013

Via wait but why: „Lucy is part of Generation Y, the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s.  She's also part of a yuppie culture that makes up a large portion of Gen Y. I have a term for yuppies in the Gen Y age group—I call them Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies, or GYPSYs. A GYPSY is a unique brand of yuppie, one who thinks they are the main character of a very special story.

So Lucy's enjoying her GYPSY life, and she's very pleased to be Lucy. Only issue is this one thing: Lucy's kind of unhappy. To get to the bottom of why, we need to define what makes someone happy or unhappy in the first place.  It comes down to a simple formula: Happiness = Reality - Expectations

It's pretty straightforward—when the reality of someone's life is better than they had expected, they're happy. When reality turns out to be worse than the expectations, they're unhappy. [...]

Here's my advice for Lucy:

1) Stay wildly ambitious. The current world is bubbling with opportunity for an ambitious person to find flowery, fulfilling success. The specific direction may be unclear, but it'll work itself out—just dive in somewhere.

2) Stop thinking that you're special. The fact is, right now, you're not special.  You're another completely inexperienced young person who doesn't have all that much to offer yet. You can become special by working really hard for a long time.  

3) Ignore everyone else. Other people's grass seeming greener is no new concept, but in today's image crafting world, other people's grass looks like a glorious meadow. The truth is that everyone else is just as indecisive, self-doubting, and frustrated as you are, and if you just do your thing, you'll never have any reason to envy others."

Thoughts on Thoughts

by Janet Kwasniak
September 18th, 2013

Via the New Sheldon wet/dry: "Language is not the only vehicle for many aspects of thought. Many assume that without language it is impossible to think, to remember, to communicate, to have categories/plans/procedures, to have culture and to even have consciousness. Slowly it is being shown that other animals can do many of the things that used to be classed as only-with-language skills. We just do them more effectively with language. [...]

It seems obvious that musical composers think when composing and that they think in musical not semantic ideas. Sculptors think but not in words but in three dimensional shapes. Athletes, for instance soccer players, think but they think kinetically. In fact they often do not have the time to think in words and ‘choke’ when they try. In cases like these it may be possible (it also may not) to document in words the processes that ended in a tune, a statue, or a scoring goal but that is not relevant – it is not how the process actually happened but just a not very accurate description of it."

Nature of Now

by Alan Watts
September 17th, 2013

"We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future.
We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience."

Untitled, Heads

by Jun Kaneko
September 15th, 2013

Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu.

Via Wikipedia: "The yoga practice is a form of ritual. Regardless of the style of yoga, most classes follow the same pattern. It begins with a short opening period where the practitioner gathers him or herself up, turning inwards, away from the mundane world and setting an intention for the practice. Following that comes the practice itself. In the closing of the practice comes an integration phase, where the effects of the practice are allowed to take hold and penetrate deep into the self. Shavasana is the primary vehicle of that process."

Die Welt ist ein Versuch

by Ernst Bloch
September 10th, 2013

Via Wikipedia: "Der Mensch ist immer ein Lernender, die Welt ist ein Versuch, und der Mensch hat ihr zu leuchten." Ernst Bloch: Vorbemerkung zur Tübinger Einleitung in die Philosophie. Frankfurt 1977.

"The world is an experiment that this matter performs with itself by means of us" (Bloch 1977, Vol. 8: 281)

Thanks to Ralf Neubauer!

All gates open

by Can in 1979
September 7th, 2013

It was, is and will be true:

"Then the gates, they couldn’t say where the beats came from,
By the time we realize the way we got to play.
All gates are open now, now it seems,
Now the music blended with the sounds we play.
Now is there any way for you to say where the woman ends,
Where the music ends and where the man begins?
All gates are open now for you and for me,
How we play the tune, each other’s symphony.
And your breathing sound is really beauty,
It doesn’t seem much softer than the drum."

Thanks to Marcus Schmickler!

Filed under: Wunderkammer


Songwriters: Tony Banks & Michael Rutherford
September 3rd, 2013

Bluegirls come in every size
Some are wise and some otherwise,
They got pretty blue eyes.
For an hour a man may change
For an hour her face looks strange -
Looks strange, looks strange.

Marching to the promised land
Where the honey flows and takes you by the hand,
Pulls you down on your knees,
While youre down a pool appears.
The face in the water looks up,
And she shakes her head as if to say
That its the last time you'll look like today.

Sail away, away
Ripples never come back.
Gone to the other side.
Sail away, away.

The face that launched a thousand ships
Is sinking fast, that happens you know,
The water gets below.
Seems not very long ago
Lovelier she was than any that I know.

Angels never know its time
To close the book and gracefully decline,
The song has found a tale.
My, what a jealous pool is she.
The face in the water looks up
She shakes her head as if to say
That the bluegirls have all gone away.

Sail away, away
Ripples never come back.
They've gone to the other side.
Look into the pool,
Ripples never come back,
Dive to the bottom and go to the top
To see where they have gone
Oh, they've gone to the other side...

Sail away, away
Ripples never come back.
Gone to the other side.
Look into the pool,
The ripples never come back, come back,
Dive to the bottom and go to the top
To see where they have gone
They've gone to the other side
Ripples never come back
Sail away, away...

The 8 hats of data visualisation design

by Andy Kirk
August 17th, 2013

Via Andy Kirk: "Having spent a number of years assessing and learning about effective visualisation design I was interested to take a specific analytical look at the range of different capabilities required to ensure that any project is undertaken in the most rounded sense. These can be roles fulfilled by a number of people or they can be the different, deliberate mindsets of an individual to ensure that the problem is viewed and tackled from all necessary directions and not from a limited perspective. This is where I came up with the 8 hats of data visualisation design."

The 8 Hats:
The Initiator is the leader.
The Data Scientist is characterised as the data miner.
The Journalist is the storyteller.
The Computer Scientist is the executor.
The designer is the creative.
The Cognitive Scientist is the thinker.
The Communicator is the negotiator.
The Project Manager is simply the manager.

Thanks to Julian Rohrhuber!

Fourth wall

Breaking bad
August 7th, 2013

Via Wikipedia: "The fourth wall is the imaginary wall at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled box set in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play. The idea of the fourth wall was made explicit by philosopher and critic Denis Diderot and spread in 19th-century theatre with the advent of theatrical realism, which extended the idea to the imaginary boundary between any fictional work and its audience.

Speaking directly to or otherwise acknowledging the audience through the camera in a film or television program, or through this imaginary wall in a play, is referred to as breaking the fourth wall and is considered a technique of metafiction, as it penetrates the boundaries normally set up by works of fiction."


by Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio
August 5th, 2013

Via ArchDaily: „Shelf-Pod is a private study facility, located in Osaka prefecture, Japan. The client owns an extensive collection of books on the subject of Islamic history, so he requested that we create this building with the maximum capacity for its storage and exhibition.

In order to satisfy this demand effectively, we designed a lattice structure made from 25mm thick laminated pine-board which serve as book-shelves. The dimensions of each shelf are as follows: 360mm height, 300mm width and 300mm depth. All of the architectural elements in this space (stairs, windows, desks, chairs, etc) have been designed on the basis of this shelf scale, with the aim of achieving geometrical harmony which is comparable to Islamic Architecture.

This innovative structural system affords not only large amount of book storage, but the possibility of flexible floor level which can be delivered from every height of bookshelf. Each space for different activity rise up helically, giving the impression of exploring a wooden jungle gym.

The original image of this structure is derived from the Japanese woodcraft of Kumiko. The structural integrity against an earthquake is provided by a panel of plywood board nailed on the shelf. Initially, the horizontal resistant force guaranteed by the panels was examined in a real-scale model. Further to this, an analysis of the whole structure was performed in order to determine the placement of the windows and panels. The inter-locking laminated pine-board was manufactured precisely in advance and assembled on-site. Similarly, the pyramid-shaped roof was assembled on-site, from 12 pieces of prefabricated wooden roof panel. The completed roof has a thickness of only 230mm and sensitively covers the whole space like the dome of a Mosque.

In addition to its unique structure, the outer wall employs the construction techniques of a traditional Japanese storehouse Dozou. The bamboo net wall foundation layer was attached to the lattice structure and the clay and straw mixture was applied to the foundation by the trowel. Then the red cedar panels forms exterior wall. The interior clay wall was finished with white plaster. These techniques are in accordance with urban fireproofing specifications, as well as maintaining a suitably humid environment for the storage of books."

The Groupies

by Dr Cleo Odzer
July 23rd, 2013

Via Mind Hacks: "The Groupies is a remarkable record. The 1969 LP features nothing but interviews with ‘super groupies’ who discuss the culture of sleeping around the 60′s rock n’ roll scene. It was made by, and featured, an 18 year-old version of the future Dr Cleo Odzer who shows her early interest in both sex and culture – both of which she’d study in her career as an anthropologist. [...]

Odzer died at the age of 50, in Goa, after returning there from New York. Accounts vary. Possibly she died peacefully in her adopted home, possibly she finally succumbed to a lonely death with AIDS.
But when you listen to The Groupies LP, and the full audio is online, you can see the beginnings of a common thread that ran through her work.
It touches on a genuinely interesting social area which most people would have dismissed as seedy but which has a clear culture emerging from it. The analysis is slightly chaotic but genuinely insightful in places. It captures the excitement but in retrospect, it took something from her."

What really matters

July 6th, 2013


Communication skills

Figure yours.

Candor: The Art of Gesticulation

by Christian Weber
June 30th, 2013

Via Nowness: "A fascination with eastern spirituality led New York-based photographer and director Christian Weber to work on Speak and Spell, a series of photographs that examine human gesture. This spurred a collaboration with art directors Marius Zorrilla and Kiku Aromir and writer Toni Segarra on a new short film, Candor, that analyzes the requirements for a successful relationship. Influenced by the early short films of Peter Greenaway as well as Jørgen Leth’s 1967 classic The Perfect Human, the graphic nature of the black-and-white film here accentuates the dramatic texture of skin."

Check out The Perfect Human.

6 hostage negotiation techniques...

...that will get you what you want
June 22nd, 2013

Via Barking Up The Wrong Tree: "The Behavioral Change Stairway Model was developed by the FBI’s hostage negotiation unit, and it shows the 5 steps to getting someone else to see your point of view and change what they’re doing.

It’s not something that only works with barricaded criminals wielding assault rifles — it applies to most any form of disagreement.

There are five steps:

1. Active Listening Listen to their side and make them aware you’re listening.
2. Empathy You get an understanding of where they’re coming from and how they feel.
3. Rapport Empathy is what you feel. Rapport is when they feel it back. They start to trust you.
4. Influence Now that they trust you, you’ve earned the right to work on problem solving with them and recommend a course of action.
5. Behavioral Change They act. (And maybe come out with their hands up.)

The problem is, you’re probably screwing it up.

In all likelihood you usually skip the first three steps. You start at 4 (Influence) and expect the other person to immediately go to 5 (Behavioral Change). And that never works."

Also, check out The last damn thing you’ll ever need to read about influence, persuasion and negotiation

Abstraktion = Vertrauen

Abstractions equals trust
June 20th, 2013

Great talk today at the Institute For Music And Media by Dave Griffith on literacy, live coding and Naked on Pluto.

Thanks to Julian Rohrhuber!

Women of the World

June 18th, 2013

Via Wikipedia: "The haenyo, literally meaning sea women, are female divers in the Korean province of Jeju. They are representative of the matriarchal family structure of Jeju.

Until the 19th century, diving was mostly done by men. The job became unprofitable for men since they had to pay heavy taxes, unlike women who did not. Women took over the diving (which was considered the lowest of jobs) and, because of the great dependence on sea products in most places on Jeju, became the main breadwinners. It could also be said that women simply were more adapted for the job, with their bodies keeping them warmer and being more suited to swimming than a male, with more body fat. With that, they often became the head of their family. On Mara Island, where sea products accounted for almost all sources of revenue before it became increasingly attractive as a tourist site, gender roles were entirely reversed. Often men would look after the children and go shopping while the women would bring in money for the family.
This evolution clashed with Korea's Confucian culture, in which women have traditionally been treated as inferior. As a result, administrators from Seoul (unsuccessfully) tried to bar the women from diving, ostensibly because they exposed bare skin while at sea.

Haenyo are skilled divers who are known to be able to hold their breath for almost two minutes and dive to depths of 20 meters. The divers must also contend with other dangers such as jellyfish, and sharks."

Also, check out the German Haenyo documentary.
Thanks to Lena Willikens!

Speculative realism

A movement?
June 15th, 2013

Via Wikipedia: "Speculative realism is a movement in contemporary philosophy which defines itself loosely in its stance of metaphysical realism against the dominant forms of post-Kantian philosophy or what it terms correlationism. Speculative realism takes its name from a conference held at Goldsmiths College, University of London in April, 2007. The conference was moderated by Alberto Toscano of Goldsmiths College, and featured presentations by Ray Brassier of American University of Beirut (then at Middlesex University), Iain Hamilton Grant of the University of the West of England, Graham Harman of the American University in Cairo, and Quentin Meillassoux of the École normale supérieure in Paris. Credit for the name speculative realism is generally ascribed to Brassier, though Meillassoux had already used the term speculative materialism to describe his own position. [...]

What unites the four core members of the movement is an attempt to overcome both correlationism as well as philosophies of access. In After Finitude, Meillassoux defines correlationism as 'the idea according to which we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being, and never to either term considered apart from the other.' Philosophies of access are any of those philosophies which privilege the human being over other entities. Both ideas represent forms of anthropocentrism."

Also, check out the Speculative Realism Aggregator.

The news media is even worse than you think

5 corrupting influences are keeping the public from the facts
May 15th, 2013

Via Market Watch: "It’s become a cliché these days to say you don’t trust the media. But you know what? You’re right not to do so.
The problems aren’t as bad as they appear. They are much, much worse.
And, as usual, almost everyone is focused on exactly the wrong things.
The problem isn’t that the occasional journalist makes a mistake on deadline. We’re human, folks. The problem isn’t big business, or corporate control. It isn’t even the Koch brothers. If you’re a liberal, you should probably want them to blow $600 million on a loss-making newspaper company.
Here are the real problems. And I don’t see any solutions."

Enlarge and denoise your photos

All thanks to basic research
May 14th, 2013

Via Big Think: "The Center for Perceptual Systems at The University of Texas at Austin has just released a free web-app that will denoise and enlarge photos in a heartbeat to an extent that according to the authors, may have never been seen before. [...]

According to the researchers this tool is unlike other algorithms as it is based on average statistical regularities across all images rather than just within the image being processed. Also the algorithm removes noise that is spatially correlated rather than just removing uncorrelated noise as other algorithms currently do. The end result is a program that attempts to understand how to detect and eliminate noise and improve the resolution of photographs."

Capuchins reject unequal pay

Talk by Frans de Waal
May 9th, 2013

Via TED: "Empathy, cooperation, fairness and reciprocity – caring about the well-being of others seems a very human trait. But Frans de Waal shows several surprising videos of behavioral tests with primates and other mammals, that show how many of these moral traits all of us share."

Related: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Smale's paradox

A sphere turning inside out
May 4th, 2013

Via Wikipedia: "In differential topology, Smale's paradox states that it is possible to turn a sphere inside out in a three-dimensional space with possible self-intersections but without creating any crease, a process often called sphere eversion (eversion means "to turn inside out"). This is surprising, and is hence deemed a veridical paradox."

Watch the explanation.

Thanks to Lilong Li!

How People Talk to Themselves in Their Heads

New York Stories: The Lives of Other Citizens by Andrew Irving
April 30th, 2013

Via Scientific American: "The human brain loves soliloquy. Even when speaking with others—and especially when alone—we continually talk to ourselves in our heads. Such speech does not require the bellows in the chest, quivering flaps of tissue in the throat or a nimble tongue; it does not need to disturb even one hair cell in our ears, nor a single particle of air. We can speak to ourselves without making a sound. Stick your head out that same window above the crowded street and you will hear nothing of what people are saying to themselves privately. All that inner dialogue remains submerged beneath the ocean of human speech, like a novel written in invisible ink behind the text of another book. [...]

Some people have tried to eavesdrop on the silent conversations in other people’s minds. Psychologists have attempted to capture what they call self-talk or inner speech in the moment, asking people to stop what they are doing and write down their thoughts at random points in time. Others have relied on surveys or diaries. Andrew Irving, an anthropologist at the University of Manchester, decided to try something a little different: a peripatetic transcription of consciousness."


by Henri-Georges Clouzot
April 19th, 2013

Via International Film Festival Rotterdam: "L’enfer was intended to be a film about a newlywed couple in which the husband becomes pathologically jealous. Clouzot wanted to look deep into the mind of the mentally ill man. In order to achieve this, he spent months on tests with kinetic lighting effects and other experiments. It promised to become a fascinating and innovative film. However that's not how it went. Reggiani quarrelled with Clouzot and left the set; Clouzot himself had a heart attack, after which the production was cancelled. A great loss for film history."

Thanks to Ulla Barthold !

Movies In Color

Stills from films and their corresponding color palettes
April 14th, 2013

Via Movies In Color: "So far, the blog has not only been an aesthetic pursuit but also an educational pursuit that showcases the relationship between color, cinematography, set design, and production design. Overall, it is a study of color in films, but has other uses and applications. One of the goals is to give artists color palettes they can use in paintings, films, videos, graphic design, and other pursuits."

Thanks to Tim Fehske!

"My bad."

Absolute irritation
March 19th, 2013

Via Urban Dictionary: "A way of admitting a mistake, and apologizing for that mistake, without actually apologizing. The best definition I ever read of this, now paraphrased: 'I did something bad, and I recognize that I did something bad, but there is nothing that can be done for it now, and there is technically no reason to apologize for that error, so let's just assume that I won't do it again, get over it, and move on with our lives.' [...]
A grammatically incorrect way of acknowledging (facetiously) a wrongdoing. Used very commonly by gangsta-wannabes and other sorts of conforming posers, the terrible grammar tends to drive literate people up the wall in absolute irritation. [...]
A term currently used when a mistake is made on your part. Allegedly originating from an unamed African Basketball Player in the 1980's (who spoke very poor english) who said it after missing a free throw. Several Sportscasters heard the phrase and used it as a joke until it became a part of popular culture."


by Heiko Haller
March 14th, 2013

Via Semantic Web: "iMapping is a technique for visually structuring information objects. It supports the full range from informal note taking over semi-structured personal information management to formal knowledge models. With iMaps, users can easily go from overview to fine-grained structures while browsing editing or refining the knowledge base in one comprehensive view.

An iMap is comparable to a large whiteboard where information items can be positioned like post-its but also nested into each other. Spatial browsing and zooming aswell as graphical editing facilities make it easy to structure content in an intuitive way. iMapping builds on a zooming user interface approach to facilitate navigation and to help users maintain an overview in the knowledge space.
First iMapping prototypes have been developed in the Nepomuk project and as the main part of Heiko Haller's PhD thesis."

Thanks to Florian Zeeh!

This too shall pass

An old sufi story
March 10th, 2013

Via Wikipedia: "(Persian: این نیز بگذرد‎, Arabic: كله ماشي‎, Hebrew: גם זה יעבור‎, Turkish: Bu da geçer (yahu)) is a proverb indicating that all material conditions, positive or negative, are temporary. The phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets, and is often attached to a fable of a great king who is humbled by the simple words. Some versions of the fable, beginning with that of Attar of Nishapur, add the detail that the phrase is inscribed on a ring, which therefore has the ability to make the happy man sad and the sad man happy. Jewish folklore often describes Solomon as giving or receiving the phrase.
The proverb and associated fable were popular in the first half of the 19th century, appearing in a collection of tales by the English poet Edward Fitzgerald and being employed in a speech by Abraham Lincoln before he became president."

Via Eckhart Tolle: "According to an old sufi story, there was once a king in the middle east, who was constantly torn between happiness and despair. The slightest thing would provoke a strong reaction in him, and when he felt happiness, it would swiftly turn into disappointment or hopelessness.
The king eventually became so tired of himself, and his life, that he decided to face his problems and call for help. He was notified of a wise man in his kingdom, that was said to be enlightened. The king pleaded for his help, and when the wise man came to see the king, the king told him: 'I want to be as you are. I want balance and clarity in my life – And i will pay you any price you demand for that insight'.
The wise man responded: 'I might be able to help you, but this insight is so valuable, that the entirety of your kingdom will not be enough to pay for it. That’s why i will give it to you as a gift, if you will honor it'. The king promised he would, and the wise man went on his way.
Weeks later the wise man came to the king again. This time bringing a jade shrine. The shrine contained a golden ring with arab letters inscribed on it. The letters said: This too shall pass.
'What is the meaning of this?' the king asked as he stood baffled. The wise man told him to always carry this ring on him, and to always look at it before he judged anything again. Good or bad. 'Do this and peace will be with you always' the wise man said."

Searching for love

A triangular theory
March 4th, 2013

Via The Psychologist: "I next proposed a triangular theory of love (Sternberg, 1986, 1997a, 1998a), which holds that love can be understood in terms of three components that together can be viewed as forming the vertices of a triangle. The triangle is used as a metaphor, rather than as a strict geometric model. These three components are intimacy (top vertex of the triangle), passion (left-hand vertex of the triangle), and decision/commitment (right-hand vertex of the triangle).

Intimacy refers to feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness in loving relationships (Sternberg & Grajek, 1984). Passion refers to the drives that lead to physical attraction and excitement. Decision/commitment refers, in the short-term, to the decision that one loves a certain other, and in the long-term, to one’s commitment to maintain that love. More of each component leads to different sizes of love triangles, and different balances of the three components give rise to different shapes of triangles.

The three components of love are interactive. For example, greater intimacy may lead to greater passion or commitment, just as greater commitment may lead to greater intimacy or, with lesser likelihood, greater passion. Although all three components are important parts of loving relationships, their importance may differ from one relationship to another, or over time within a given relationship. […]

The triangular theory characterises the structure of love, but not how that structure emerged in the first place. According to the theory of love as a story (Sternberg, 1998b), love triangles emanate from stories. Almost all of us are exposed to large numbers of diverse stories that convey different conceptions of how love can be understood. Some of these stories may be explicitly intended as love stories; others may have love stories embedded in the context of larger stories. Either way, we are provided with varied opportunities – through experience, literature, media, and so forth – to observe multiple conceptions of what love can be. As a result of our exposure to such stories, we form over time our own stories of what love is or should be.

The interaction of our personal attributes with the environment – the latter of which we in part create – leads to the development of stories about love that we then seek to fulfill, to the extent possible, in our lives (Sternberg, 1995, 1996, 1998b; Sternberg et al., 2001). Various potential partners fit these stories to greater or lesser degrees. We are more likely to succeed in close relationships with people whose stories more rather than less closely match our own."

The psychology of the to-do list

New cult for the info age
February 10th, 2013

Via Mind Hacks: "If your daily schedule and email inbox are anything like mine, you’re often left a state of paralysis by the sheer bulk of outstanding tasks weighing on your mind. In this respect, David Allen’s book Getting Things Done is a phenomenon. An international best-seller and a personal productivity system known merely as GTD, it’s been hailed as being a “new cult for the info age”. The heart of the system is a way of organising the things you have to do, based on Allen’s experience of working with busy people and helping them to make time for the stuff they really want to do."

Quantum foam

Empty space isn't empty.
February 2nd, 2013

Via Fermilab: "On the face of it, empty space should be … well … empty. If you take a container, pump all the air out of it, shield it from electric fields and plop it in the deepest of intergalactic space to get it away from gravitational fields, that container should contain absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip.

However, that's not what happens. At the quantum scale, space is a writhing, frantic, ever-changing foam, with particles popping into existence and disappearing in the wink of an eye. This is not just a theoretical idea—it's confirmed. How can this bizarre idea be true?

Even though in classical physics we are taught that energy is conserved, which means it cannot change, one of the tenets of quantum mechanics says that energy doesn't have to be conserved if the change happens for a short enough time. So even if space had zero energy, it would be perfectly OK for a little energy to pop into existence for a tiny split second and then disappear—and that's what happens in empty space. And since energy and matter are the same (thank Einstein for teaching us that E=mc2 thing), matter can also appear and disappear.

And this appears everywhere. At the quantum level, matter and antimatter particles are constantly popping into existence and popping back out, with an electron-positron pair here and a top quark-antiquark pair there. This behavior is the reason that scientists call these ephemeral particles "quantum foam": It's similar to how bubbles in foam form and then pop.

End of 2012

One year in ten steps
December 31, 2012

Art Cage Piece by Tehching Hsieh. Learned about Tehching Hsieh when he commented on Victor Morales' work at the Globalize:Cologne event. Did some research afterwards and his work made a deep impression.
Autograph Terre Thaemlitz signed his latest release Soulnessless for me with "Our secret is safe" which led to inviting him for a lecture at IMM in June 2013.
Birthday On 9/11 we went to sit at David's tree at the FriedWald Bad Münstereifel. Colorful petals, canned beer and a circle of friends passing a joint. Am sure he would have enjoyed it too.
Book Insectopedia by Hugh Raffles. Weaving together brief vignettes, meditations, and extended essays, Insectopedia travels through history and science, anthropology and travel, economics, philosophy, and popular culture to show how insects have triggered our obsessions, stirred our passions, and beguiled our imaginations.
Concept Gnothi seauton: "The maxim, or aphorism, Know Thyself has had a variety of meanings attributed to it in literature. The Suda, a tenth century encyclopedia of Greek Knowledge, says: 'the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are,' and that know thyself is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude."
Musical scores Went to the pre-opening of the Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction exhibition in Amsterdam and saw a few of Fischinger's graphic notations for the first time. Thank you, Cindy Keefer, for insisting to include them in the show and catalog.
Party On an exceptionally hot night Matias Aguayo played and sung for several hours at the Dub Lab fund-raiser in Cologne. Amazing performance and a great night at the four-square lake.
Quote If you talk about it you have an opinion, if you write about it you make a contribution. –Helen Schneider at her BASECAMP talk.
TV series My favorite this year was Hit & Miss, a British television series which stars Chloë Sevigny as a transsexual contract killer who discovers she has a child with her former lover.
Workshop During the TRYANGLE – Performing Arts Research Laboratories I went to a one-hour laughter workshop without knowing it was one. Had to run around, laugh the whole time while the room temperature was boiling at about 45 degree Celsius. Truly mind blowing experience to which I would have never gone had I knew.

So, here we are... And what is next?

You've Got A Friend

by Ella Fitzgerald
December 24th, 2012

Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.


Being committed
December 21st, 2012


Figure yours.

Return trip

by Erik Davis
December 10th, 2012

Via aeon: "Like many of the death-prep meditations practised in Tibetan Buddhism and other initiatory traditions, psychedelics — provided, again, within an appropriate set and setting — can serve as flight simulators hurtling us through the shadow of death, test runs of the inevitable fear and phantasmagoria, as well as avenues towards acceptance and integral insight. Having died, even in hallucination, one can no longer quite live the same way.

And here, at the very least, the warring parties of religion and secular reductionism might be able to hold a truce. After all, materialists and New Agers, sceptics and shamans, are all united in facing the death of ourselves and our loved ones — a process that remains, even for the most committed sceptic, a mystery poised at the knife edge of meaning and the void. And mysterious ordeals sometimes require mysterious protocols. The gambit of psychedelic research is that third-person explanations will not exhaust the meaningfulness of wrestling with first-person experience. Like our loving and like our dying, our trips are ultimately known, if anything is ultimately known at all, from the inside."

Obvious But True

Full Moons Do Not Drive People Crazy
November 28th, 2012

Via Smithsonian.com: "Some beliefs are so engrained that they live on in popular culture despite a total lack of evidence backing them up. Take, for instance, the idea that a full moon can trigger mass hysteria or psychosis.

Popularized long ago in werewolf mythology and other folklore, the myth persists to the degree that, according to one study, 64 percent of doctors and 80 percent of nurses still think it’s true—even though we’ve yet to see a plausible mechanism suggested for how moons could affect moods.

For these holdouts, a study published this week in General Hospital Psychiatry should finally put an end to it: In examining three years worth of records from a pair of Montreal hospitals’ emergency rooms, a group of researchers from Université Laval in Quebec City found that there was no connection between phases of the moon and psychological problems."

Cambodian Trees

Digitally Projected Deities and Sprits on the Streets of Cambodia
November 26th, 2012

Via This is Colossal: "Cambodian Trees is a digital projection work by French artist Clement Briend who traveled to Cambodia to photograph these sculptural representations of deities and spirits from Cambodian culture overlaid on trees in several urban areas. Of the series Briend says: It’s a beautiful surprise when the projected spirits awaken and reveal themselves at night as though they are made of the towering trees themselves. The photographic light installations echo the spirituality of the few sprouts of nature in the predominantly urban landscapes. It is a visual imagining of the divine figures that inhabit the world, as seen through an environmentally aware spiritual eye."

The co-branded employee

Meet your newest management headache
November 7th, 2012

Via The Wall Street Journal: "A growing number of professionals are using social media to build a personal, public identity—a brand of their own—based on their work. Think of an accountant who writes a widely read blog about auditing, or a sales associate who has attracted a big following online by tweeting out his store's latest deals.

Co-branded employees may exist largely below the radar now, but that's changing fast, and employers need to start preparing for the ever-greater challenges they pose for managers, co-workers and companies. Their activities can either complement a company's own brand image or clash with it. Companies that fail to make room for co-branded employees—or worse yet, embrace them without thinking through the implications—risk alienating or losing their best employees, or confusing or even burning their corporate brand.

Part of this change is generational. Younger employees show up on the job with an existing social-media presence, which they aren't about to abandon—especially since they see their personal brands lasting longer than any single job or career."

Me from Myself — to banish

by Emily Dickinson
October 14th, 2012

Me from Myself—to banish—
Had I Art –
Impregnable my Fortress
Unto All Heart –
But since Myself — assault Me –
How have I peace
Except by subjugating
And since We’re mutual Monarch
How this be
Except by Abdication –
Me — of Me?

If you could only ask one question to determine the IQ (g) of a person, what would it be?

This interview question has been making the rounds since the 90's
October 13, 2012

Via Quora: “I’m going to give you five minutes,” he told me. “When I come back, I want you to explain to me something complicated that I don’t already know.” He then rolled out of the room toward the snack area. I looked at Cindy. “He’s very curious about everything,” she told me. “You can talk about a hobby, something technical, whatever you want. Just make sure it’s something you really understand well.”

7 Things You Won't Believe Science Says Make You Happy

September 26, 2012

Via Cracked: "#7. Watching Sad Movies
#6. Eating Red Meat
#5. Keeping Your Mind Busy
#4. Getting into Fights
#3. Riding the Subway
#2. Doing Chores
#1. Thinking About Death

“A method to produce the perfect book.”

Popularized by Jan Tschichold in the mid to late twentieth century, based on the work of J. A. van de Graaf, Raúl M. Rosarivo, Hans Kayser, and others.
September 24th, 2012

Via Retinart: "The perfect book. This is how designer-genius Jan Tschichold described this system. Not the ok book, nor the pretty good book, but the perfect book.
This method existed long before the computer, the printing press and even a defined measuring unit. No picas or points, no inches or millimeters. It can be used with nothing more than a straight edge, a piece of paper and a pencil.
And you can still use it. This is a system which is still as valid, beautiful and elegant with ultra-modern design as it ever was for the work of the scribes, Gutenberg and Tschichold. (…)

Books were once a luxury only the richest could afford and would take months of work to be brought to fruition.
And they were harmoniously beautiful.
The bookmakers knew the secret to the perfect book. They shared among themselves a system—a canon—by which their blocks of text and the pages they were printed on would agree with one another and become a harmonious unit.
So elegant is this method of producing harmony that a few designers saw to rediscover it. Even though it was considered a trade-secret, they all came to the same conclusion, hundreds of years apart, independent of one another, but each supported by the other.
They found the way to design a harmonious page. A perfect page."

Fear can be erased from the brain

The findings may represent a breakthrough
September 22nd, 2012

Via EurekAlert!: "Thomas Ågren, a doctoral candidate at the Department of Psychology under the supervision of Professors Mats Fredrikson and Tomas Furmark, has shown, that it is possible to erase newly formed emotional memories from the human brain.

When a person learns something, a lasting long-term memory is created with the aid of a process of consolidation, which is based on the formation of proteins. When we remember something, the memory becomes unstable for a while and is then restabilized by another consolidation process. In other words, it can be said that we are not remembering what originally happened, but rather what we remembered the last time we thought about what happened. By disrupting the reconsolidation process that follows upon remembering, we can affect the content of memory."

9 Warning Signs of an Amateur Artist

by Skinny Artist
September 10th, 2012

Via by Skinny Artist: "Are you an amateur artist? The warning signs:

  1. amateur artists wait for inspiration
  2. amateur artists work until something else comes up
  3. amateur artists are constantly changing their focus
  4. amateur artists believe that if they build it, you will come
  5. amateur artists believe that success will happen quickly
  6. amateur artists believe they don’t need schedules or organization
  7. amateur artists never finish their work
  8. amateur artists are too busy learning to do anything
  9. amateur artists isolate themselves from the artist community"

I Knew It All Along... Didn't I?

Understanding Hindsight Bias
September 9th, 2012

Via Science News: "The problem is that too often we actually didn't know it all along, we only feel as though we did. The phenomenon, which researchers refer to as hindsight bias, is one of the most widely studied decision traps and has been documented in various domains, including medical diagnoses, accounting and auditing decisions, athletic competition, and political strategy.

In a new article in the September 2012 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychological scientists Neal Roese of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Kathleen Vohs of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota review the existing research on hindsight bias, exploring the various factors that make us so susceptible to the phenomenon and identifying a few ways we might be able to combat it. This article is the first overview to draw insights together from across different disciplines. (…)

The researchers argue that certain factors fuel our tendency toward hindsight bias. Research shows that we selectively recall information that confirms what we know to be true and we try to create a narrative that makes sense out of the information we have. When this narrative is easy to generate, we interpret that to mean that the outcome must have been foreseeable. Furthermore, research suggests that we have a need for closure that motivates us to see the world as orderly and predictable and to do whatever we can to promote a positive view of ourselves.

Ultimately, hindsight bias matters because it gets in the way of learning from our experiences. (…)

So what, if anything, can we do about it?

Roese and Vohs suggest that considering the opposite may be an effective way to get around our cognitive fault, at least in some cases. When we are encouraged to consider and explain how outcomes that didn't happen could have happened, we counteract our usual inclination to throw out information that doesn't fit with our narrative. As a result, we may be able to reach a more nuanced perspective of the causal chain of events.

9 eyes

by Jon Rafman
September 2nd, 2012

Via Smithonian: "From allegedly cheating husbands, to drug deals in action, to embarrassing moments, Google Street View has captured some interesting snapshots of human life. Artist Jon Rafman, has made it his goal to scour the Earth and compile those fascinating images. This list of 30, seen at Demilked, is full of truly amazing shots. And there are more at is his website."

10 Best Ways To Fail

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. –Samuel Beckett
August 20th, 2012

Via Stewart Home: "1. Elegantly – that’s with a massive advance from a production company or publisher and no audience!
2. Spectacularly – as success slips from you’re fingers you realise that in a few moments you’ll be dead!
3. Hypocritically – by being evil when your motto is 'don’t be evil'!
4. Hypothetically – that’s when your visualisations of your future success are so good you can’t be bothered with the actuality.
5. Happily – by realising that you didn’t want a house in the Hollywood Hills or to be chased around by the paparazzi anyway.
6. Secretly – since all success is relative and is ultimately an illusion.
7. Excessively – by falling down assorted search engine rankings after massively over-optimising the SEO on your website and being penalised for it.
8. Technically – due to injury you escape without personal blame for your lack of success.
9. Categorically – by aiming too high and trying too hard (i.e. by willing something that could never become so-called 'universal law').
10. Ethically – by being unfaithful to everything you ever believed in (especially if that happens to be the sanctity of marriage or monogamy)."

Behavioral modernity

Yours truly
August 19th, 2012

Via my all-time favorite The New Shelton wet/dry: "Behavioral modernity is a term used in anthropology, archeology and sociology to refer to a set of traits that distinguish present day humans and their recent ancestors from both other living primates and other extinct hominid lineages. It is the point at which Homo sapiens began to demonstrate a reliance on symbolic thought and to express cultural creativity. These developments are often thought to be associated with the origin of language.

There are two main theories regarding when modern human behavior emerged. One theory holds that behavioral modernity occurred as a sudden event some 50 kya (50,000 years ago) in prehistory, possibly as a result of a major genetic mutation or as a result of a biological reorganization of the brain that led to the emergence of modern human natural languages. Proponents of this theory refer to this event as the Great Leap Forward or the Upper Paleolithic Revolution.

The second theory holds that there was never any single technological or cognitive revolution. Proponents of this view argue that modern human behavior is the result of the gradual accumulation of knowledge, skills and culture occurring over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution."

Boys don't

Generic language helps fuel stereotypes
August 10th, 2012

Via EurekAlert!: "Hearing generic language to describe a category of people, such as boys have short hair, can lead children to endorse a range of other stereotypes about the category, a study by researchers at New York University and Princeton University has found. Their research, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), also points to more effective methods to reduce stereotyping and prejudice.
The study focused on social essentialism, or the belief that certain social categories, such as race or gender, mark fundamentally distinct kinds of people. For instance, social essentialism facilitates the belief that because one girl is bad at math, girls in general will be bad at math. While previous scholarship has shown that essentialist beliefs about social categories, such as gender or race, appear as early as preschool, it has been less clear on the processes that lead to the formation of these beliefs."

The Heretic

by Tim Doody
August 5th, 2012

Via The Morning News: "These six items are, perhaps simply enough, factors that Fadiman believes determine the quality of a psychedelic experience, as well as its specific nature. He has culled them from his work with hundreds of people in therapy sessions, creativity experiments, and Death Valley vision quests. They are:

1. Set: the mental attitude of a would-be psychedelic voyager
2. Setting: the surroundings in which a psychedelic substance is ingested
3. Guide: a person experienced with non-ordinary states of consciousness who helps to mitigate challenges and channel insights
4. Substance: the type and quantity of psychedelic agent
5. Session: the entirety of a psychedelic trip, including all activities or rituals
6. Situation: the environment, people, and culture from which a person comes to a session and returns afterward

Regardless of whether they use Fadiman’s preferred terminology, medical researchers conducting government-approved therapeutic studies look for these same essential parameters, as do shamans and tribal elders across the globe. These diverse facilitators of psychedelic experiences carefully screen applicants to ensure they are of sound(-enough) mind and prime them on the benefits that a session can offer, thereby helping to focus intentions, establish positive expectations, and dramatically increase the odds of a favorable outcome."

The Paranoid-Critical Method

by Rob Horning
August 4th, 2012

Via The New Inquiry: "I’m starting to think that social media comprise a paranoia machine by design, that users regard this as a feature and not a bug. In other words, they make up a kind of external control panel for modulating the paranoia necessary for selfhood, even as they serves various expansionary capitalist ends. They make paranoia seem constructively generative, self-affirming. As the slogan on Danah Boyd’s site puts it: making connections where none previously existed, which is a good definition for both paranoia and social networks. Koolhaas writes, quoting Dalí, that

The essence of paranoia is this intense — if distorted — relationship with the real world: 'The reality of the external world is used for illustration and proof … to serve the reality of our mind …'
Paranoia is a shock of recognition that never ends.

Now that we are replacing the journalistic construction of verified reality with self-interested social-media glossolalia, perhaps society’s destruction is proceeding apace. But the false facts we might spontaneously generate in interacting with social media — whether we are feeding our paranoid fears or indulging in their flip side, unrepentant self-aggrandizement — are no more or less false than the ideological interpretations of reality that pass as real facts, the ones convenient to power and the reproduction of existing distributions of privilege and so on. In fact, they fit that ideology’s individualist bias, the belief that it is our duty to aspire to fashion a private reality for ourselves and that our social status hinges on the success of that project.
Koolhaas argues that the paranoid-critical method promises that, through conceptual recycling, the worn, consumed contents of the world can be recharged … like uranium and that it proposes to destroy, or at least upset, the definitive catalogue, to short-circuit all existing categorizations, to make a fresh start as if the world can be reshuffled like a pack of cards whose original sequence is a disappointment. That sounds like a description of Tumblr blogs avant le lettre. They have fractured the definitive catalogue of cultural images into millions of subcatalogs that make no pretense at a complete representation of the world but propose the equally grandiose total representation of a self. And millions of us must then confront the apparently unsolvable problem of finding a sequence no less disappointing than the original."

Does infinity exist?

by John D. Barrow
July 26th, 2012

Via Plus magazine: "In particle physics there has been a much longer-standing and more subtle problem. Quantum electrodynamics is the best theory in the whole of science, its predictions are more accurate than anything else that we know about the Universe. Yet extracting those predictions presented an awkward problem: when you did a calculation to see what you should observe in an experiment you always seemed to get an infinite answer with an extra finite bit added on. If you then subtracted off the infinity, the finite part that you were left with was the prediction you expected to see in the lab. And this always matched experiment fantastically accurately. This process of removing the infinities was called renormalisation. Many famous physicists found it deeply unsatisfactory. They thought it might just be a symptom of a theory that could be improved."

The Three Questions

Of The Emperor
July 11th, 2012

Via The Buddhapadipa Temple: "1. When is the most important time? Now is the most important time.
2. Who is the most important person? The person, with whom we are now, is the most important.
3. What is the most important thing? To care is the most important thing.

The most important time is right now is true, but we always forget that. We like to spend most of our time in the past and future. We regret what we have done. It is not wrong to think of the past, but not for regret, it should be for development. Sometimes we panic about what has not come yet. We should bring our attention to the present moment, just right now. There is a process that we can practise; being in the present moment; we just sit still, observing the breath or the sensation of the rising and falling of the abdomen; what is coming in and what is going out. When we notice that our attention, or mind, has drifted from the breath, or the sensation of the rising and falling of the abdomen, we bring our attention, or mind, back, gently, to the breath or the sensation of the rising and falling of the abdomen. Keep doing this, or tether our attention to the breath, or the sensation of the rising and falling of the abdomen, then we can be with the most important time, the present moment.

The person, with whom we are now, is the most important this person we always ignore. Who is the real person whom we are always with? It is ourselves, as we spend the time with ourselves, more or less. How much importance do we give to our life? was asked, sometimes we are not sure about the answer. Sometimes we ignore our life but pay attention to that of others. Because of that attention, our life; happiness and security, depends on others. As we know people are different and they change, so we cannot expect that they will please us all the time. The important thing to do is self study, to be our own refuge and to give importance to ourselves and find time for learning and practising for the better.

To care is the most important thing means to take care of ourselves, our family, our society, our nation and our world. This is the most important thing as we live together, even if we are alone, we have to take care of ourselves. Care is a good word which can be divided into three; to care (loving-kindness), be careful (mindfulness) and caring (generosity). This is the best answer among the three answers, growing care, carefulness and caring, in our mind, and spreading them to others."

I love Ubu, I adore Ubu, I insist on Ubu

UbuWeb's Media Servers Are Down
July 7th, 2012

What happened? My favorite archive ever is down. I went cold turkey.
Please bring it back!

The significance of plot without conflict

July 3rd, 2012

Via still eating oranges: "In the West, plot is commonly thought to revolve around conflict: a confrontation between two or more elements, in which one ultimately dominates the other. The standard three- and five-act plot structures—which permeate Western media—have conflict written into their very foundations. A problem appears near the end of the first act; and, in the second act, the conflict generated by this problem takes center stage. Conflict is used to create reader involvement even by many post-modern writers, whose work otherwise defies traditional structure.

The necessity of conflict is preached as a kind of dogma by contemporary writers’ workshops and Internet guides to writing. A plot without conflict is considered dull; some even go so far as to call it impossible. This has influenced not only fiction, but writing in general—arguably even philosophy. Yet, is there any truth to this belief? Does plot necessarily hinge on conflict? No. Such claims are a product of the West’s insularity. For countless centuries, Chinese and Japanese writers have used a plot structure that does not have conflict built in, so to speak. Rather, it relies on exposition and contrast to generate interest. This structure is known as kishōtenketsu.

Kishōtenketsu contains four acts: introduction, development, twist and reconciliation. The basics of the story—characters, setting, etc.—are established in the first act and developed in the second. No major changes occur until the third act, in which a new, often surprising element is introduced. The third act is the core of the plot, and it may be thought of as a kind of structural non sequitur. The fourth act draws a conclusion from the contrast between the first two straight acts and the disconnected third, thereby reconciling them into a coherent whole. Kishōtenketsu is probably best known to Westerners as the structure of Japanese yonkoma (four-panel) manga..."

Why Your Best Friend Ditched You For His Girlfriend

When does romantic desire encourage us to take on the negative qualities of potential partners?
May 28, 2012

Via peer-reviewed by my neurons: "Who hasn’t gone to a terrible concert or engaged in some uncharacteristic gyrating on a dancefloor because of a potential romantic partner? On the other hand, the desire to see ourselves positively is extremely strong. I’m not a fan of universal theories, but if I had to pick one to explain all of human motivation it would be something that revolved around our desire to maintain self-worth and view ourselves and our lives in a positive way. That fact that a person may be willing to explicitly take on a negative view of themselves in order to attract a partner reveals the sheer magnitude of the positivity we feel from beginning a romantic relationship. And that’s why your no-longer-single friend isn’t coming over to play Portal 2 tonight."

Baby, baby when I look at you

'Cause I feel for you
May 13, 2012

Via Wikipedia: "Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience. Emotion is associated with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation. Motivations direct and energize behavior, while emotions provide the affective component to motivation, positive or negative.

No definitive emotion classification system exists, though numerous taxonomies have been proposed. Some categorizations include:
Cognitive versus non-cognitive emotions
– Instinctual emotions (from the amygdala), versus cognitive emotions (from the prefrontal cortex).
– Universal emotions recognized cross-culturally based on research on identification of facial expressions

Several different theories aim to explain the origin, neurobiology, experience, and function of emotions."

Pitching: logos, ethos, and pathos

Notes from Class 8 of CS183: Startup
May 8, 2012

Via Blake Masters: "People like stories. Our brains are wired to respond them. We recall facts better when they are embedded in narrative. Hollywood is the proof of their value. We pay lots of money for stories. Entertainment is a much bigger industry than venture capital because people like stories. Even a crappy game like Mass Effect 3 sells a million copies because it tells a story. So you should try to tell one, too. Why did you start your company? What do you want to achieve? Then drape the facts around that skeleton.
Fortunately, the framework for a good story has been long established. Aristotle figured out the elements of a perfect pitch thousands of years ago. He identified the principles of logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos is argument based on facts and reason. Ethos is argument based on character—your character. This is the credibility piece. Finally, pathos is argument based on listeners’ emotions. Those are what you need to exploit. So think about your pitch in terms of logos, ethos, and pathos. There is 3,000 years of decent evidence that people respond to pitches that get these factors right. (...)

Predictable things that VCs will want to know:

1) Macro
a. Are you a company or just a product/feature?
b. Your vision for the company

2) Your product(s)
a. What it is
b. What problem it solves
c. Why it is superior
d. Why it is not likely to be displaced for some time

3) Team
a. This is the ethos part of the presentation – why are you the right people for the task and why should the VC trust you?
b. Are you missing anyone?
c. How are you recruiting/convince the 20th employee to join?
d. What’s your philosophy on compensation?

4) The Business
a. Market size, specifically the addressable market
b. How much of the market are you are going to capture and how
c. Competitive analysis/advantages
d. Business model
e. How will you generate revenue?
   i. Sales process
   ii. Customer acquisition cost
   iii. Profitability
f. Barriers to entry/exit

5) The Ask
a. How much do you need and what will you use it for?
b. What’s your burn?
c. Valuation

6) Funding History/Syndication
a. Who else are you talking to? (This is the pathos bit)
b. Why do you want to work with this VC?
c. What do you want from the VC besides money?"

Ten Commandments of Teaching

by Bertrand Russell
May 2, 2012

Via brain pickings:
"1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness."

An Essay on the New Aesthetic

by Bruce Sterling
April 29, 2012

Via Wired: "A genuine New Aesthetic in CERN would ask for some aesthetic help there in CERN, in tackling one of the biggest problems in the history of aesthetics. Which is: why is some (but not all) mathematics beautiful?

The beauty of mathematics is a fact of creative life. The beauty of software code is also a fact of creative life. Math people and coders both know that those beauties are real, real like anvils. Yet that is a truly deep and wicked aesthetic problem. A modern aesthetic movement who could resolve that problem would have a grand achievement. Instead of merely collecting weird seashells on the vast Newtonian shore, they’d be able to state that they had carried out a huge land-reclamation project.

An intellectually honest New Aesthetic would have wider horizons than a glitch-hunt. It would manifest a friendlier attitude toward non-artistic creatives and their works. It would be kinder with non-artists, at ease with them, helpful to them, inclusive of them, of service to them. It’s not enough to adopt a grabbier attitude toward the inanimate products of their engineering."

The New Aesthetic tumblr.

The More Informed You Are…

…the More Likely You Are to Change Your Mind
April 28, 2012

Via peer-reviewed by my neurons: "The connection between being comfortable defending a position and changing that position, initially seems counter-intuitive, but it makes sense if you think about it like this: Possessing knowledge that supports a position makes you more comfortable defending that position. However, because you based your position on knowledge, your position is liable to change when your knowledge changes. On the other hand, people who adhere to a position that’s not based on expertise won’t be as comfortable defending their position, but there is little chance that new knowledge will come along and change their minds. In other words, comfort with a position is associated with changing the position because they are both are driven by the same thing — knowledge."


April 23, 2012

Walk in silence
Don't walk away, in silence
See the danger
Always danger
Endless talking
Life rebuilding
Don't walk away

Walk in silence
Don't turn away, in silence
Your confusion
My illusion
Worn like a mask of self-hate
Confronts and then dies
Don't walk away

People like you find it easy
Naked to see
Walking on air
Hunting by the rivers
Through the streets
Every corner abandoned too soon
Set down with due care
Don't walk away in silence
Don't walk away

It's you, only you

48 Psychological Facts You Should Know About Yourself
April 19, 2012

Via Business Insider: "Humans can only process small amounts of information at a time (consciously that is… the estimate is that we handle 40,000,000 pieces of information every second, but only 40 of those make it to our conscious brains). One mistake that web sites make is to give too much information all at once. (…) Think progressive disclosure."

Forward and up, towards the light

Farewell, David
April 12, 2012

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching / Chapter 48 in Seal Script

Zhuanshu 篆文, with Wang Pi / Wang Bi Version
April 8, 2012

The student learns by daily gain.
The way is gained by daily loss.
Loss after loss until at last comes rest.
By letting go all gets done.
The world is won by those who let go.
Lao-tzu, Tao te Ching

Lift off

Let Your Eyes Predict
April 6, 2012

Via Social Science Research Network: "This study investigates the prediction accuracy of anticipatory pupil dilation responses in humans prior to the random presentation of alerting or neutral sounds. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the autonomous nervous system may react prior to the presentation of random stimuli. A total of 80 participants, who were matched according to gender to take into account individual differences, were asked to listen to a random sequence of 10 neutral and 10 alerting sounds. Their pupil dilation was continuously recorded and the diameter of their pupils was used to predict the category of sound, alerting, or neutral. The pupil dilation of both males and females predicted alerting sounds approximately 10% more accurately than would be expected by chance, whereas neutral sounds were predicted at the chance level. This result was confirmed using a frequentist and a Bayesian statistical approach. Following the results of the study, practical and theoretical implications of these results are discussed."

Maps of Science

The relationships between various scientific domains
March 28, 2012

Via Plosone: "Intricate maps of science have been created from citation data to visualize the structure of scientific activity. However, most scientific publications are now accessed online. Scholarly web portals record detailed log data at a scale that exceeds the number of all existing citations combined. Such log data is recorded immediately upon publication and keeps track of the sequences of user requests (clickstreams) that are issued by a variety of users across many different domains. Given these advantages of log datasets over citation data, we investigate whether they can produce high-resolution, more current maps of science.

Over the course of 2007 and 2008, we collected nearly 1 billion user interactions recorded by the scholarly web portals of some of the most significant publishers, aggregators and institutional consortia. The resulting reference data set covers a significant part of world-wide use of scholarly web portals in 2006, and provides a balanced coverage of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. A journal clickstream model, i.e. a first-order Markov chain, was extracted from the sequences of user interactions in the logs. The clickstream model was validated by comparing it to the Getty Research Institute's Architecture and Art Thesaurus. The resulting model was visualized as a journal network that outlines the relationships between various scientific domains and clarifies the connection of the social sciences and humanities to the natural sciences."

Thanks to Elsa Wormeck!

Chess, intelligence and winning arguments

by Garth Zietsman
March 19, 2012

Via FreakoStats: "We have all had arguments. Occasionally these reach an agreed upon conclusion but usually the parties involved either agree to disagree or end up thinking the other party hopelessly stupid, ignorant or irrationally stubborn. Very rarely do people consider the possibility that it is they who are ignorant, stupid, irrational or stubborn even when they have good reason to believe that the other party is at least as intelligent or educated as themselves.

Sometimes the argument was about something factual where the facts could be easily checked e.g. who won a certain football match in 1966.

Sometimes the facts aren’t so easily checked because they are difficult to understand but the problem is clear and objective. (…)

Sometimes the facts aren’t as mathematical or logical as the Monty Hall solution. Each party to the argument appeals to facts which the other party disputes. (…)

Sometimes the arguments boil down to differences in values. For example, what tastes better chocolate or vanilla ice cream, or who is prettier Jane or Mary? In these cases there isn’t really a correct answer – even when a large majority favors a particular alternative. Values also have a strong way of influencing what people accept as evidence or indeed what they perceive at all.

The interesting thing is that when the disagreement isn’t a pure values difference it should always be possible to reach agreement."

Neon Sky

by Fringe Chubini
March 11, 2012

under the neon sky
we were walking
in a destroyed city
ruins behind the facades

I’ll never lost my grey eyes
I’ll never lost my electric lips

under the neon sky
we were dreaming
on the end of the day
ruins behind the facades

I’ll never lost your sad eyes
I’ll never lost your biting heart

Christ, Hegel, Wagner

by Slavoj Žižek
February 25, 2012

Via Lacon Dot Com: "This Hegelian logic is at work in Wagner’s universe up to Parsifal, whose final message is a profoundly Hegelian one: The wound can be healed only by the spear that smote it (Die Wunde schliesst der Speer nur der Sie schlug). Hegel says the same thing, although with the accent shifted in the opposite direction: the Spirit is itself the wound it tries to heal, i.e., the wound is self-inflicted. That is to say, what is Spirit at its most elementary? The wound of nature: subject is the immense – absolute - power of negativity, of introducing a gap/cut into the given-immediate substantial unity, the power of differentiating, of abstracting, of tearing apart and treating as self-standing what in reality is part of an organic unity. This is why the notion of the self-alienation of Spirit (of Spirit losing itself in its otherness, in its objectivization, in its result) is more paradoxical than it may appear: it should be read together with Hegel’s assertion of the thoroughly non-substantial character of Spirit: there is no res cogitans, no thing which (as its property) also thinks, spirit is nothing but the process of overcoming natural immediacy, of the cultivation of this immediacy, of withdrawing-into-itself or taking off from it, of – why not – alienating itself from it. The paradox is thus that there is no Self that precedes the Spirit’s self-alienation: the very process of alienation creates/generates the Self from which Spirit is alienated and to which it then returns. (Hegel here turns around the standard notion that a failed version of X presupposes this X as their norm (measure): X is created, its space is outlined, only through repetitive failures to reach it.) Spirit's self-alienation is the same as, fully coincides with, its alienation from its Other (nature), because it constitutes itself through its return-to-itself from its immersion into natural Otherness. In other words, Spirit’s return-to-itself creates the very dimension to which it returns. (This holds for all return to origins: when, from 19th century onwards, new Nation-States were constituting themselves in Central and Eastern Europe, their discovery and return to old ethnic roots generated these roots.) What this means is that the negation of negation, the return-to-oneself from alienation, does not occur where it seems to: in the negation of negation, Spirit’s negativity is not relativized, subsumed under an encompassing positivity; it is, on the contrary, the simple negation which remains attached to the presupposed positivity it negated, the presupposed Otherness from which it alienates itself, and the negation of negation is nothing but the negation of the substantial character of this Otherness itself, the full acceptance of the abyss of Spirit’s self-relating which retroactively posits all its presuppositions. In other words, once we are in negativity, we never quit it and regain the lost innocence of Origins; it is, on the contrary, only in negation of negation that the Origins are truly lost, that their very loss is lost, that they are deprived of the substantial status of that which was lost. The Spirit heals its wound not by directly healing it, but by getting rid of the very full and sane Body into which the wound was cut.”

Fluxus and Situationist International

February 12, 2012

Via Wikipedia: "Fluxus—a name taken from a Latin word meaning to flow—is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning, architecture, and design. Fluxus is sometimes described as intermedia."

Via Wikipedia: "Nach dem Dadaismus war Fluxus der zweite elementare Angriff auf das Kunstwerk, das im herkömmlichen Sinn negiert wurde und als bürgerlicher Fetisch galt. Was zählte, war die schöpferische Idee."

Via Wikipedia: "The Situationist International rejected all art that separated itself from politics, the concept of 20th century art that is separated from topical political events. The SI believed that the notion of artistic expression being separated from politics and current events is one proliferated by reactionary considerations to render artwork that expresses comprehensive critiques of society impotent. They recognized there was a precise mechanism followed by reactionaries to defuse the role of subversive artists and intellectuals, that is, to reframe them as separated from the most topical events, and divert from them the taste for the new that may dangerously appeal the masses; after such separation, such artworks are sterilized, banalized, degraded, and can be safely integrated into the official culture and the public discourse, where they can add new flavors to old dominant ideas and play the role of a gear wheel in the mechanism of the society of the spectacle."

Via Wikipedia: "Die Situationisten versuchten, ästhetische Konzepte auf die Gesellschaft zu übertragen, ähnlich wie Joseph Beuys, Fluxus, die Konzeptkunst und andere Strömungen in der Kunst: Ästhetisch, bezogen auf ihren Kunstbegriff, waren Situationen, in denen sich Menschen unmittelbar frei und gleichberechtigt begegnen, austauschen, sich selbst verwalten, kreativ sind, sich ihren Leidenschaften hingeben und keinerlei unnötigen Zwängen mehr unterliegen.

Wir meinen zunächst, daß die Welt verändert werden muß. Wir wollen die am weitesten emanzipierende Veränderung von der Gesellschaft und dem Leben, in die wir eingeschlossen sind. Wir wissen, daß es möglich ist, diese Veränderung durch geeignete Aktionen durchzusetzen. Es ist gerade unsere Angelegenheit, bestimmte Aktionsmittel anzuwenden und neue zu erfinden, die auf dem Gebiet der Kultur und der Lebensweise leichter zu erkennen sind, aber mit der Perspektive einer gegenseitigen Beeinflussung aller revolutionären Veränderungen angewandt werden. –Rapport über die Konstruktion von Situationen (…)

Die Kunst selbst sollte nun durch ihre Verwirklichung im Leben aufgehoben werden, was bedeutete, dass Poesie oder künstlerisches Denken und Handeln nicht mehr nur auf Leinwänden, sondern in der Gestaltung der alltäglichen Lebenswelt Aller stattfinden sollte. Dies bedeutete das Ende der Kunst als besondere Kategorie, denn alles wäre (auch) Kunst.

Devolution? Fungus?

February 03, 2012

Via Vanity Fair: "For most of the last century, America’s cultural landscape—its fashion, art, music, design, entertainment—changed dramatically every 20 years or so. But these days, even as technological and scientific leaps have continued to revolutionize life, popular style has been stuck on repeat, consuming the past instead of creating the new. (...)
We seem to have trapped ourselves in a vicious cycle-economic progress and innovation stagnated, except in information technology; which leads us to embrace the past and turn the present into a pleasantly eclectic for-profit museum; which deprives the cultures of innovation of the fuel they need to conjure genuinely new ideas and forms; which deters radical change, reinforcing the economic (and political) stagnation."


Via Cyborgology: "And then there is war. Lots of war. Anderson briefly mentions Vietnam as a cultural touchstone of the 60s and 70s, but no mention of this generation’s indefinite warfare. No mention of drones becoming household words, no mention of the art that opposes the war, the record-setting protests that, while largely ignored by the media, definitely did actually happen. Also no mention of the video games as a form of media. Nothing about violent video games made by the American Army, no discussion of Hillary Clinton’s crusade to keep violent video games out of the hands of children, or the any of the similar discussions we have had, as a society, about interactive media.

Popular politics and protest are very influential in pop culture. But when such protest is ignored by the media, individuals are left to making their own media, and with it, their own culture. Anderson is looking for culture in all the wrong places. There are parts of our culture that definitely conform to Kurt Anderson’s critique. The GAP and Starbucks haven’t changed much in the past decade and, as Anderson correctly notes, Now that multi-billion-dollar enterprises have become style businesses…a massive damper has been placed on the genreal impetus for innovation and change. One thinks immediately of the first episode of Portlandia, in which Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein triumphantly declare that The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland. But even then, the very existence of a show like Portlandia, suggests that this subculture has reached such a level of self-referential awareness, that it is only a matter of time before it is all SO TOTALLY OVER."

Does a Long-Term Relationship Kill Romantic Love?

One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry. —Oscar Wilde
January 29, 2012

Via Review of General Psychology: "This article examines the possibility that romantic love (with intensity, engagement, and sexual interest) can exist in long-term relationships. A review of taxonomies, theory, and research suggests that romantic love, without the obsession component typical of early stage romantic love, can and does exist in long-term marriages, and is associated with marital satisfaction, well-being, and high self-esteem. Supporting the separate roles of romantic love and obsession in long-term relationships, an analysis of a moderately large data set of community couples identified independent latent factors for romantic love and obsession and a subsample of individuals reporting very high levels of romantic love (but not obsession) even after controlling for social desirability. Finally, a meta-analysis of 25 relevant studies found that in long- and short-term relationships, romantic love (without obsession) was strongly associated with relationship satisfaction; but obsession was negatively correlated with it in long-term and positively in short-term relationships."

The Work

by Byron Katie
January 24, 2012

Via The Work: "In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and your turnarounds. For example, your statement might be '[Name] doesn't listen to me.' Find someone in your life about whom you have had that thought, take that statement and put it up against the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.

Step 1 Is it true?
Step 2 Can you absolutely know that it's true?
Step 3 How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Step 4 Who would you be without the thought?

Turn around the concept you are questioning, and be sure to find at least three genuine, specific examples of each turnaround.

After you have investigated your statement with the four questions, you’re ready to turn around the concept you’re questioning. (...)

Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you originally believed.
A statement can be turned around to the opposite, to the other, and to the self (and sometimes to my thinking, when that feels appropriate). Find a minimum of three genuine, specific examples of how each turnaround is true in your life, and then allow yourself the time and presence to feel them deeply."

Examples here.

Gnothi seauton

γνῶθι σεαυτόν
January 23, 2012

Via Wikipedia: "The Ancient Greek aphorism Know thyself, Greek: γνῶθι σεαυτόν, English phonetics pronunciation: gnōthi seauton (also ... σαυτόν ... sauton with the ε contracted), was inscribed in the pronaos (forecourt) of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek periegetic (travelogue) writer Pausanias (10.24.1).

The maxim, or aphorism, Know Thyself has had a variety of meanings attributed to it in literature. The Suda, a tenth century encyclopedia of Greek Knowledge, says: 'the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are,' and that know thyself is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude."

Have you ever thought about...

January 22, 2012

Via Wikipedia: "Intuition is a priori knowledge or experiential belief characterized by its immediacy. Beyond this, the nature of intuition is debated. Roughly speaking, there are two main views. They are:

1. Intuitions are a priori. This view holds that distinctions are to be made between various sorts of intuition, roughly corresponding to their subject matter (see George Bealer). The only intuitions that are relevant in analytic philosophy are 'rational' intuitions. These are intellectual seemings that something is necessarily the case. They are directed exclusively towards statements that make some kind of necessity claim. For example, a rational intuition is what occurs when it seems to us that a mathematical statement (e.g. 2+2=4) must be true. Intuitions as this view characterizes them are to be distinguished from beliefs, since we can hold beliefs which are not intuitive, or have intuitions for propositions that we know to be false.

2. Intuitions are a species of belief, and based ultimately in experience. This view holds that intuitions are not especially different from beliefs, although they appear subjectively to be more unrevisable than other beliefs. Unlike the previous view, these intuitions are liable to differ between social groups. Evidence for this is shown in various psychological studies (e.g. the one by Stich, Weinburg and Nichols)."

More tomato

Can we eat to starve cancer?
January 6, 2012

Via TED: "William Li presents a new way to think about treating cancer and other diseases: anti-angiogenesis, preventing the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor. The crucial first (and best) step: Eating cancer-fighting foods that cut off the supply lines and beat cancer at its own game."


Glowing words by Kent Rogowski
January 5, 2012

Via Boston Globe: "But the real question, when it comes to predicting the future of forecasting, may not be whether we can or can’t forecast accurately — it’s whether we want to."


I want to know
January 3, 2012

Via EurekAlert!: "It may seem like a good thing to have a better memory, but people with excessively vivid memories have a difficult life. 'Memory is a double-edged sword,' Hills says. In post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, a person can’t stop remembering some awful episode. 'If something bad happens, you want to be able to forget it, to move on.'"

Via Neon Tommy: "The researchers found that trans fat (found in fried and many processed foods) contributed to more shrinkage of the brain in addition to less cognitive recognition."


Still my No 1 value: Openness
January 2, 2012

Via Wikipedia: "Serendipity means a happy accident or pleasant surprise; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it. The word has been voted one of the ten English words hardest to translate in June 2004 by a British translation company. However, due to its sociological use, the word has been exported into many other languages."

"One must Learn to Love. This is our experience in music: we must first learn in general to hear to hear fully, and to distinguish a theme or melody, we have to isolate and limit it as a life by itself; then we need to exercise effort and good will in order to endure it in spite of its strangeness we need patience towards its aspect and expression and indulgence towards what is odd in it in the end there comes a moment when we are accustomed to it, when we expect it, when it dawns upon us that we should miss it if it were lacking; and then it goes on to exercise its spell and charm more and more, and does not cease until we have become its humble and enraptured lovers, who want it and want it again, and ask for nothing better from the world. It is thus with us, however, not only in music: it is precisely thus that we have learned to love everything that we love. We are always silly recompensed for our good will, our patient reasonableness and gentleness towards what is unfamiliar, by the unfamiliar slowly throwing off its veil and presenting itself to us as a new, ineffable beauty: that is its thanks for our hospitality. He also who loves himself must have learned it in this way: there is no other way. Love also has to be learned." –Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.

Thanks to Katharina Hauke!

Der alten Zeiten wegen

Als wär's das letzte Mal
January 1, 2012

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere
And gie's a hand o'thine
And we'll tak a right gude willie-waughtm
for auld lang syne.

Und hier ist meine Hand, mein treuer Freund,
Und schlag ein mit der Deinen!
Und dann lass uns einen ordentlichen Schluck nehmen
Der alten Zeiten wegen.

Via Cantaria Folk Song Archive: "Robert Burns sent a copy of the original song to the British Museum with this comment: The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man's singing , is enough to recommend any air. (Gavin Grieg: Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads) He set it to a traditional Scottish air that is quite different than the popularized version.
Throughout the English-speaking world, Auld Lang Syne is traditionally sung on New Years Eve (known as Hogmanay in Scotland). That tradition does not hearken back to Burns but rather only to Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo who sang at midnight January 1, 1929 in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Guy Lombardo's orchestra played the song every New Years Eve, in live broadcast from New York, until 1976. Since then, their recording has been played each year as part of the Times Square ball drop."

End of 2011

Ten in Eleven: That which is in the way is the way
December 31, 2011

Anticipation Sitting on my hotel bed right at Venice boardwalk and waiting for the wave from Japan. Watching the surfers trying to get into the pacific and listening to the police helicopters above yelling into their megaphone "Clear the beach".
Book Out of Our Heads – Why You Are Not Your Brain by Alva Noë. In this inventive work, Noë suggests that rather than being something that happens inside us, consciousness is something we do.
Emergence Quitting my Art Director Club's membership with reference to Exit Through The Giftshop.
Film Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 2010 3-D documentary film by Werner Herzog, about the Chauvet Cave in southern France. Finally 3-D makes sense. Altogether a breathtaking treat including a hilarious end.
Exhibition All of This and Nothing at UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
Letter The incredibly moving, detailed account of Aldous' last days was written by Laura Huxley just days after her husband's death and sent to his older brother Julian.
Quote If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight…. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all. –John Cage
Teaching tale Enter Zen from there.
To Do Write Cadavre Exquis workshop exposé.
Useful concept The six-faceted diamond of psychological flexibility.

So, here we are... And what is next?

Redesigning Leadership

By John Maeda and Becky Bermont
December 22, 2011

Via The European Business Review: "And though artistry doesn’t lend itself easily to a set of instructional principles, my hope is that the series of vignettes below help to show how artists and designers may have more of a place around the management table than often thought:

1. Build from foundations
2. Craft the team
3. Sense actively
4. Fail productively
5. Openly critiqued
6. Take leaps"

Thanks to Christian Schäfer!

Dark Iris

by James Guppy
December 17, 2011

Happiness (is a warm gun)
Bang Bang Shoot Shoot

12 Things Happy People Do Differently

by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky
December 11, 2011

Via Marc and Angel Hack Life: "Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives. (...)

1. Express gratitude.
2. Cultivate optimism.
3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison.
4. Practice acts of kindness.
5. Nurture social relationships.
6. Develop strategies for coping.
7. Learn to forgive.
8. Increase flow experiences.
9. Savor life’s joys.
10. Commit to your goals.
11. Practice spirituality.
12. Take care of your body."

An Informal Catalogue of Slit-Scan Video Artworks and Research

Compiled by Golan Levin
December 10, 2011

Via Flong: "Slitscan imaging techniques are used to create static images of time-based phenomena. In traditional film photography, slit scan images are created by exposing film as it slides past a slit-shaped aperture. In the digital realm, thin slices are extracted from a sequence of video frames, and concatenated into a new image.
Recently I've seen many new-media projects based on slit-scan techniques. They range from student projects, to Java demonstrations on the Processing.org site, to works by recognized pioneers of video and interactive art. My inclination to make lists is irresistible, and so I've put together this catalogue as an aid to researchers and students. My aim is to be as inclusive as possible, rather than attempt to winnow the projects down to just a few ideal exemplars or the most significant historic precursors. Thus not all of the examples are even computational: some of the projects described below use motion-picture film, still photography, or analog video techniques. Please note that this page is not self-promotional; I have not produced any slit-scan based projects myself.
Eddie Elliott, one of the earliest researchers of digital slit-scan imaging, keeps a related list which is more oriented towards photography, early cinema and flipbooks. There is now a Flickr tag for slitscan images, and many of the latest and informal productions can be seen there."

Thanks to Katharina Hauke!

What the world needs now

by Burt Bacharach
November 27, 2011

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.
Lord, we don't need another mountain,
There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers enough to cross,
Enough to last till the end of time.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.
Lord, we don't need another meadow
There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow
There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine
Oh listen, lord, if you want to know.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.

Listen here.

Ideal worlds

The bigger picture
November 12, 2011

Via Qualitative Sociology Review (PDF): "Is it possible to look at something without actually noticing it? Is it possible to see something in the picture that is not really there? The answers to these philosophical questions can be obtained by comparing the results of eye-tracking tests combined with interviews based on sociological theories. (…)
The respondents, in line with our expectations, turned out to be familiar with the catalogue investigated. All of them provided the correct name of the company. When asked to describe in their own words the situations presented, the respondents would stress the fact that they show the ideal world. (…)
While most attention should be given to watching the advertisements, we constitute our dreams of a perfect life, environment and the items that furnish it."

Via Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising by Luke Sullivan: "People generally deny advertising has any effect on them. They’ll insist they’re immune to it. And perhaps, taken on a person-by- person basis, the effect of your ad is indeed modest. But over time, the results are undeniable. Try this on: 1980—Absolut Vodka is a little nothing brand. Selling 12,000 cases a year. That’s nothing. Ten years and one campaign later, this colorless, nearly tasteless, and odorless product is the preferred brand, selling nearly 3 million cases a year. All because of the advertising."

Thanks to the New Shelton wet/dry !

A break of thought

November 11, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "A dash is one of several kinds of punctuation mark. Dashes appear similar to hyphens, but differ from them primarily in length, and serve different functions. The most common versions of the dash are the en dash (–) and the em dash (—).
The en dash, n dash, n-rule, or nut (–) is traditionally half the width of an em dash. In modern fonts, the length of the en dash is not standardized, and the en dash is often more than half the width of the em dash. The widths of en and em dashes have also been specified as being equal to those of the upper-case letters N and M respectively, and at other times to the widths of the lower-case letters. (...)

Similarly, it can be used instead of an ellipsis to indicate aposiopesis, the rhetorical device by which a sentence is stopped short not because of interruption but because the speaker is too emotional to continue, such as Darth Vader’s line 'I sense something; a presence I’ve not felt since—' in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope."

Never Ask a Busy Person to Lunch

by Mark Suster
October 27, 2011

Via Both Sides of the Table: "Here’s the deal. Busy execs hate lunches. They are time sucks. Sure, they like to occasionally meeting good friends for lunch, important contacts for them or group lunches. But somebody they don’t know? Not so much. (…)

So what can you do? And when is lunch or dinner OK?

1. First date, speculative meeting: I always recommend you ask for coffee. And better if it’s at their offices if you’re asking for the meeting. “Hey, can I bring you a coffee and get 30 minutes of your time at your offices next Tues or Wed? I promise I won’t overrun my time.” And don’t. You become an easy second date to accept.

2. First date, high intent: Let’s say you have a meeting with somebody you know wants to meet you. Let’s say it’s for biz dev purposes, or you’re pitching investors, recruiting, or it’s a sales meeting – whatever. Then you can more easily just say, “How about if I swing by your offices next Tues / Wed” and leave the shorter 30-minute time unit out. I wouldn’t mention length of time until you’re there. You might get an hour. Awesome. You don’t have to be sheepish about short time because you know they want to meet you."

Memento mori

October 25, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as Remember your mortality, Remember you must die or Remember you will die. It names a genre of artistic work which varies widely, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality. The phrase has a tradition in art that dates back to antiquity."

Thanks to Jochen Kuhn!

The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations

by Georges Polti
October 12, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations is a descriptive list which was created by Georges Polti to categorize every dramatic situation that might occur in a story or performance. To do this Polti analyzed classical Greek texts, plus classical and contemporaneous French works. He also analyzed a handful of non-French authors. In his introduction, Polti claims to be continuing the work of Carlo Gozzi, who also identified 36 situations. (...)

1. Supplication
2. Deliverance
3. Crime pursued by vengeance
4. Vengeance taken for kin upon kin
5. Pursuit
6. Disaster
7. Falling prey to cruelty/misfortune
8. Revolt
9. Daring enterprise
10. Abduction
11. The enigma
12. Obtaining
13. Enmity of kin
14. Rivalry of kin
15. Murderous adultery
16. Madness
17. Fatal imprudence
18. Involuntary crimes of love
19. Slaying of kin unrecognized
20. Self-sacrifice for an ideal
21. Self-sacrifice for kin
22. All sacrificed for passion
23. Necessity of sacrificing loved ones
24. Rivalry of superior vs. inferior
25. Adultery
26. Crimes of love
27. Discovery of the dishonour of a loved one
28. Obstacles to love
29. An enemy loved
30. Ambition
31. Conflict with a god
32. Mistaken jealousy
33. Erroneous judgement
34. Remorse
35. Recovery of a lost one
36. Loss of loved ones"

Via the New Shelton wet/dry: "Gozzi maintained that there can be but thirty-six tragic situations. Schiller took great pains to find more, but he was unable to find even so many as Gozzi. –Goethe"

Chicken soup

Don't waste your money on alternative flu remedies
October 10th, 2011

"Chicken soup has long been regarded as a remedy for symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections. As it is likely that the clinical similarity of the diverse infectious processes that can result in colds is due to a shared inflammatory response, an effect of chicken soup in mitigating inflammation could account for its attested benefits. To evaluate this, a traditional chicken soup was tested for its ability to inhibit neutrophil migration using the standard Boyden blindwell chemotaxis chamber assay with zymosan-activated serum and fMet-Leu-Phe as chemoattractants. Chicken soup significantly inhibited neutrophil migration and did so in a concentration-dependent manner. The activity was present in a nonparticulate component of the chicken soup. All of the vegetables present in the soup and the chicken individually had inhibitory activity, although only the chicken lacked cytotoxic activity. Interestingly, the complete soup also lacked cytotoxic activity. Commercial soups varied greatly in their inhibitory activity. The present study, therefore, suggests that chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity. A mild anti-inflammatory effect could be one mechanism by which the soup could result in the mitigation of symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections."

Full recipe here: Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro by Barbara O. Rennard, BA, Ronald F. Ertl, BS, Gail L. Gossman, BS, Richard A. Robbins, MD, FCCP and Stephen I. Rennard, MD, FCCP


That Bohemian Girl
October 4, 2011

Great hippie interior.

"We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

Ode by Arthur O'Shaughnessy, 1874"

How warm and competent...

...are you?
September 28, 2011

Via PsyBlog: "When a person meets you for the first time they ask themselves two questions. The answers to these two questions will have all sorts of knock-on effects for how they think about you and how they behave towards you.

Professor Susan Fiske of Princeton University has shown that all social judgements can be boiled down to these two dimensions (Fiske et al., 2007):

How warm is this person?
The idea of warmth includes things like trustworthiness, friendliness, helpfulness, sociability and so on. Initial warmth judgements are made within a few seconds of meeting you.

How competent is this person?
Competency judgements take longer to form and include things like intelligence, creativity, perceived ability and so on."

Looks like the future is finally here

September 25, 2011

Via Try Nerdy: "UC Berkeley scientists who have developed a decoder that can measure our brain activity and reconstruct our visual experiences. In other words, 20 years from now we might not ask eye-witnesses to describe a suspect…we’ll just analyze their brain activity and reconstruct the suspect’s image for ourselves. (...)

The decoder algorithm developed by these researchers can describe how temporal and spatial information are represented by fMRI data. Five thousand hours of random YouTube video clips were fed into the computer and this same algorithm predicted the types of fMRI responses these clips would elicit. From this, the researchers were able to take the fMRI data generated while movie trailers were viewed, then reconstruct the images seen by the person using composites of YouTube videos that had the most similar predicted fMRI signature to the real data. The results I’m showing below may look crude, but the fact that they’re just based on an algorithmic analysis of fMRI data is incredible."

Related: Until the End of the World by Wim Wenders

One, None and One Hundred Thousand Profiles

Re-imagining the Pirandellian Identity Dilemma
September 24, 2011

Via the News Shelton wet/dry: "With the growing permeation of online social networks in our everyday life, scholars have become interested in the study of novel forms of identity construction, performance, spectatorship and self-presentation onto the networked medium. This body of research builds upon a rich theoretical tradition on identity constructivism, performance and (re)presentation of self. With this article we attempt to integrate the work of Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello into this tradition. (...)

The popular social networking site Facebook is interesting to analyze in this context. With its sheer population size (over half billion users at the time of writing) and an unprecedented monopoly over users’ personal data, Facebook is a forum in which multiple communities and societal roles necessarily meet: these days, your parents, your children, your colleagues, and your friends are all on Facebook. In such a diverse and highly populated environment, constructing, tweaking, and curating one’s online representation is of crucial importance."

(Alberto Pepe, Spencer Wolff & Karen Van Godtsenhoven, Re-imagining the Pirandellian Identity Dilemma in the Era of Online Social Networks | PDF)

To avoid

Do not think about it
September 8, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "Elephant in the room is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.
It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue. (…)
In 1927 Ernest Hemingway wrote a short story Hills Like White Elephants in which a young couple have a tense conversation then after the mountain's elephant like appearance is brought up, a prolonged discussion about an operation (assumed as an abortion) is argued which leads to the story's conflict. (…)
The term refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue that is obvious, but which is ignored by a group of people, generally because it causes embarrassment or is taboo. The idiom can imply a value judgment that the issue ought to be discussed openly, or it can simply be an acknowledgment that the issue is there and not going to go away by itself.
The term is often used to describe an issue that involves a social taboo, such as race, religion, or even suicide. This idiomatic phrase is applicable when a subject is emotionally charged; and the people who might have spoken up decide that it is probably best avoided.

"For there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so." –Shakespeare, Hamlet Prince of Denmark

How long has this been going on?
August 21, 2011

Via DoloTest: "No person can feel exactly how another person feels. No matter how much training in communication you might have and how much attention and time you spend listening to another person you will never fully be able to grasp all the aspects of the other person’s inner experience. By listening to the other person you might get an idea, a feeling of understanding. But what you feel will always in some way be referenced to your own experiences. By consciously and subconsciously observing the other person’s body language you might add another aspect to the understanding of the situation. However the perception will always be interpreted in your own complex framework of feelings and expectations – and as such the other person’s feelings could be misunderstood. These be the feelings about religion, political views, love, child rearing – or pain."

Hit me with your rhythm stick

Compass of Pleasure
August 12th, 2011

Via Salon: "Recent science has found that different kinds of pleasure are surprisingly similar in terms of brain chemistry and physiology. The buzz derived from a yoga class or a bump of cocaine look almost exactly the same on a neurological level. Perhaps unsurprisingly, our brains are also susceptible to liking pleasure a little bit too much, leading to behaviors we characterize as addiction. (…)

When you think about it, a lot of our laws are dopamine laws. Our jails and legal system are full of people who have broken certain laws related to pleasure. Societies love to regulate pleasure because it is transgressive; it is anti-authoritarian. We have these ideas, 'pleasure is best in moderation,' 'pleasure must be earned,' 'if you deny pleasure it can lead to spiritual growth,' that are not just Western or American. But we also have these incredible mixed messages. We have a hyper-sexualized media, for instance. (…)

We have access to so much, and it's so inexpensive. If you want to have a snort of crystal meth or a dose of ecstasy, that's not going to cost more than a large cappuccino at Starbucks. We simultaneously are telling people that you have to be very careful about pleasure, that you should not overindulge, and yet our media celebrates overindulgence, whether it is sexual or alcoholic or nicotine or what have you. There are enormous corporate interests involved in the dopamine world."

Every day, the same, again

August 11th, 2011

Via Online Etymology Dictionary: "early 13c., penitential chastisement; punishment, from O.Fr. descepline (11c.) discipline, physical punishment; teaching; suffering; martyrdom, and directly from L. disciplina instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge, also object of instruction, knowledge, science, military discipline, from discipulus (see disciple). Sense of treatment that corrects or punishes is from notion of order necessary for instruction. The Latin word is glossed in O.E. by þeodscipe. Meaning branch of instruction or education is first recorded late 14c. Meaning military training is from late 15c.; that of orderly conduct as a result of training is from c.1500."

Via Merriam-Webster: "Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin disciplina teaching, learning, from discipulus pupil. First Known Use: 13th century."

Via Wikipedia: "In its original sense, discipline is referred to systematic instruction given to a disciples to train them as students in a craft or trade, or to follow a particular code of conduct or order. Often, the phrase to discipline carries a negative connotation. This is because enforcement of order – that is, ensuring instructions are carried out – is often regulated through punishment."

Your Idea of Happiness Is Wrong

5 Scientific Reasons
August 8th, 2011

Via Cracked.com: "Go back to ancient Greece and it's very simple: Happiness = Luck. Either the gods dribbled their joy juice on you or didn't; either way, there was nothing you could do about it. And that was it, end of conversation. It was nothing to get upset about. In fact, in every European language, the root of the word for happiness is some older word that meant luck. Ours comes from the old Norse and Old English word hap, and hap simply means luck.
Flash forward to Aristotle's day, 335-ish B.C. Philosophers of the time considered happiness to be synonymous with virtue. In other words, do good to feel good. If you didn't feel good, it meant you weren't being virtuous enough. Now, we don't want to come off as cynical here, but it almost sounds like this was when they started using this elusive idea of happiness as a motivational tool. Happiness is the carrot on the stick that makes you do all of the things that keep society running smoothly. (…)
But the new definition of happiness seemed to be you feel like you're playing with a puppy, all the time. Then the Enlightenment declared that everyone had a right to be happy, and by the time the American Declaration of Independence was written in 1776, the pursuit of happiness was declared an inalienable right, endowed by the creator. That's a damned 180-degree turn from what the ancient Greeks thought. And if we're defining happiness as 24/7 puppy time, then it doesn't work.(…)
The very act of trying to achieve happiness made people unhappy because of the anxiety they felt when they failed. They were happier when they weren't trying. You know, like if somebody had told them it was out of their hands, or that they should focus on doing good things and declare the result to be happiness, regardless of what it looked like."

Thanks to Helen Schneider!


Measuring and visualizing movie data
August 1st, 2011

Via cinemetrics: "cinemetrics is about measuring and visualizing movie data, in order to reveal the characteristics of films and to create a visual fingerprint for them. Information such as the editing structure, color, speech or motion are extracted, analyzed and transformed into graphic representations so that movies can be seen as a whole and easily interpreted or compared side by side. (...)
cinemetrics is an experiment to find out if the data that is inherent in the movie can be used to make something visible that otherwise would remain unnoticed."

Thanks to Beren Baumgartner!

Stuck In A Metaphor

Considering: Emotion vs Structure (Metaphor vs Tangibility)
July 30th, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "Structure is a fundamental, tangible or intangible notion referring to the recognition, observation, nature, and permanence of patterns and relationships of entities. This notion may itself be an object, such as a built structure, or an attribute, such as the structure of society. (...)
The description of structure implicitly offers an account of what a system is made of: a configuration of items, a collection of inter-related components or services. A structure may be a hierarchy (a cascade of one-to-many relationships), a network featuring many-to-many links, or a lattice featuring connections between components that are neighbors in space.
A formalized interpretation of the structure is compiled as semiotics of the structure."

Via Wikipedia: "Emotion is the complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves 'physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience.' Emotion is associated with mood, temperament, personality and disposition, and motivation. Motivations direct and energize behavior, while emotions provide the affective component to motivation, positive or negative. (…)
The English word emotion is derived from the French word émouvoir. This is based on the Latin emovere, where e- (variant of ex-) means out and movere means move."

"You are stuck in a metaphor!" (The Trip)

Thanks to Johanna Dombois for inspiring thoughts and conversations!

By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired. –Kafka

4 Ways Technology Can Enable Your Inner Introvert
July 29th, 2011

Via The Atlantic: "Email is often fingered as a key factor in the lamentable perpetual accessibility characterizing modern American communication. But it isn't. It allows you to respond when you're ready to do so. In fact, sometimes not responding to email in a timely fashion can give the impression that you're already busy doing other things. Which helps create the space that introverts need. (…)
First popularized by Carl Jung, the word introversion describes exactly what you'd assume: a tendency be focused inwards (intro-) as opposed to the external focus of extraverts. As Wikipedia states, introversion is 'the state of okay I think that's enough pretending.' (…)
I speak of the struggle between introverts and extroverts in antagonistic terms. But it shouldn't be considered that way. Extroverts, we love you. We just don't want to talk to you all the time. Happily, we live in a time when the expectation that we do so is much lower."

Via Wikipedia: "Introversion is 'the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life'. Introverts are people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction. Introverts tend to be more reserved and less outspoken in large groups. They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, music, drawing, tinkering, playing video games, watching movies and plays, and using computers, along with some more reserved outdoor activities such as fishing. In fact, social networking sites have been a thriving home for introverts in the 21st century, where introverts are free from the formalities of social conduct and may become more comfortable blogging about personal feelings they would not otherwise disclose. The archetypal artist, writer, sculptor, engineer, composer, and inventor are all highly introverted. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends. Trust is usually an issue of significance: a virtue of utmost importance to an introvert choosing a worthy companion. (…)
Introversion is not the same as being shy or being a social outcast. Introverts prefer solitary activities over social ones, whereas shy people (who may be extraverts at heart) avoid social encounters out of fear, and the social outcast has little choice in the matter of his or her solitude."

Both Sides of the Table

Quick Practical, Tactical Tips for Presentations
July 28th, 2011

Via Mark Suster: "Today’s post is a subtle one about positioning yourself in a presentation. This might be a VC meeting but also might just be a sales or biz dev meeting. It’s any meeting where you are in a small room and are being called on to present on some form of overhead slides
1. Sit closest to the projection screen
2. Avoid a home team & away team (unless you’re in Japan)
3. Work the entire room, don’t fixate
4. Don’t have hand outs
5. Never present eye charts
6. If you have detailed slides you can hand them out in real time."

A thin line

We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. –Anaïs Nin
July 26th, 2011

Via Brain Blogger: "We are all familiar with the fuzzy feelings that accompany falling in love. You and your partner become emotionally connected, supported, and complete. Although human love is a complicated and long journey, scientists consistently find that the release of a specific neuropetide – oxytocin – may kick start these feelings right away in courtship. In fact, for the past few decades researchers have referred to oxytocin as the love hormone, and credit its release as the glue that ties humans to their loved ones. (…)

While oxytocin may enhance positive emotions and pro-sociality with the people we care about, it may also contribute to negative views and behaviors towards people to whom we are not close. Research in social psychology finds that humans simultaneously show favoritism for the people in their social circle (ingroup) and derogation of people in social groups that are different from their own (outgroup). Although not conclusive, recent findings suggest that administering oxytocin to males not only enhances their in-group favoritism, but in some cases, also increases defensiveness towards outgroup members.

It's hard to dismount from a tiger

Every metaphor starts out as a wild beast, waiting to be tamed by usage
July 25th, 2011

Via The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Further undermining those who seek an Archimedean spot from which to analyze metaphor is that even the words metaphor and figure are metaphors. Derrida, in White Mythology, mocks Aristotle's famous full definition: 'Metaphor consists in giving the thing a name that belongs to something else; the transference being either from genus to species, or from species to genus, or from species to species, or on grounds of analogy.' Derrida writes that, in the original, every word of the definition is a metaphor. Paul Ricoeur describes the situation in his study, The Rule of Metaphor: 'There is no nonmetaphorical standpoint from which one could look upon metaphor.'

Of all philosophical writers on metaphor, Nietzsche probably draws the strongest conclusions from this situation. 'Tropes,' he writes, 'are not something that can be added or abstracted from language at will—they are its truest nature.' He argues that there is 'no real knowing apart from metaphor,' by which he means that we experience reality through metaphors, and our notion of literal meaning simply reflects the ossification of language, as figures of speech lose their vitality. He emphasizes in The Genealogy of Morals how metaphor tends to extend its sway, to bring wider ranges of experience under its wing. He goes so far as to say that 'the drive toward the formation of metaphor is the fundamental human drive.' For him, literal and figurative meaning are not stable categories, but historical ones determined by their social context.

The Nietzschean big picture of metaphor's role in language and culture lends support to Derrida's point in White Mythology that the evolution of abstractions is always a case of going from the physical and sensible to the abstract. Derrida is critical, like Nietzsche, of the automatic distinction of the sensory and nonsensory in Western thought, believing that it shows a lack of self-consciousness in thinkers about the roots of their language. He thinks a key question in looking at a supposed abstraction is whether the memory of its sensory origin remains in its usage."

About a Girl, 2005

10 Psychological Keys to Job Satisfaction
July 23rd, 2011

Via Psyblog: "If some job satisfaction surveys are to be believed then as many as a third of us are considering a change of job. Clearly many are finding it hard to get that feeling of satisfaction from work.
Job satisfaction is important not just because it boosts work performance but also because it increases our quality of life. Many people spend so much time at work that when it becomes dissatisfying, the rest of their life soon follows.
Everyone's job is different but here are 10 factors that psychologists regularly find are important in how satisfied people are with their jobs.

1. Little hassles
2. Perception of fair pay
3. Achievement
4. Feedback
5. Complexity and variety
6. Control
7. Organisational support
8. Work-home overflow
9. Honeymoons and hangovers
10. Easily pleased?"

The after-hours mutants

Evening people may find the traditional work schedule a constant battle with the snooze button
July 15th, 2011

Via Psych Your Mind: "Every night owl you meet will tell you the same thing: there is something magical about those late night hours when the rest of the world is sleeping. It's your time, unscheduled and undisturbed, to spend as you wish. To some, this perspective may seem lazy and immature, a luxury afforded only to those who don't have real adult responsibilities. And this may be partially true - many would-be night owls have few opportunities to enjoy the later evening hours because of work, kids, and other demands. But new research suggests that even these non-practicing night owls may be hard-wired to want to stay up late. Though sleep preferences are due in part to non-biological factors like culture, and family environment, at least 50% of the variance seems to be driven by genes, specifically something called the after-hours mutant which appears to prolong the circadian rhythm. As a result, evening people may find the traditional work schedule a constant battle with the snooze button, regardless of how much sleep they get.

You probably already know whether you're a morning or evening person, but if you're not sure, here are two ways to figure it out:

1) On weekends, or when you don't have to wake up at any particular time, when do you naturally wake up? If the answer is more than an hour or so different from when you wake up on weekdays, chances are you're an evening person by nature. Morning people tend to wake up just as early on weekends as they do during the week.

2) Regardless of how much sleep you've gotten, when do you find that you have the most energy? If your energy peaks in the morning and dwindles by late afternoon, you're a morning person. If it peaks later in the evening - you guessed it - you're an evening person.

The debate over whether it's better to be a night owl or an early bird has been going on for centuries, and more often than not the early birds have indeed gotten the worm, as their natural sleep schedule corresponds with traditional business hours. The stereotypical morning person arrive at the office chipper and energized, while the evening person stumbles in, coffee in hand, and stares at the computer screen for an hour before getting to work."

Say, say, say...

Vice is nice
July 10th, 2011

La notte che le cose ci nasconde

July 9th, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "The Panopticon is a type of building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. The design comprises a circular structure with an inspection house at its centre, from which the managers or staff of the institution are able to watch the inmates, who are stationed around the perimeter. Bentham conceived the basic plan as being equally applicable to hospitals, schools, poorhouses and madhouses, but he devoted most of his efforts to developing a design for a Panopticon prison, and it is his prison which is most widely understood by the term."

Related: La notte che le cose ci nasconde

Pump Up the Volume

ORGON, a 4-way Spherical Wave Horn System
July 3rd, 2011

Via Martion Audiosystems: "The Orgon effortlessly demonstrates the tiniest variations in the acoustic chain. It has an unbelievable presence, even when listening quietly (very important) and is certainly bettered by no other system in terms of dynamics and power. It delivers a smooth and simple sound, just as one would want.
The Orgon is always individually matched to the spatial characteristics and/or to the customer's wishes. Here there is a broad range of implementation possibilities, particularly when there is no corner available to accommodate the bass. The Orgon is fitted and calibrated anywhere in the world by the developer in person. Any exchange of components onsite is extremely simple and at the works there is a team of technicians that is constantly available. Further developments in future can, therefore, easily be retrofitted. According to all owners so far, the Orgon is a lifetime investment."

The Orgon build by Heiner Basil Martion finally made it into a club in Cologne: Gewölbe im Westbahnhof. There are still a few adjustments to be made but the potential is overwhelming.

"Rythmic, systemic and world control
Magnetic, genetic, dement your soul
Put the needle on the record
When the song beats go like this
Pump up the volume
Dance dance


When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained. –Mark Twain
June 26th, 2011

Now here you go again
You say you want your freedom
Well who am I to keep you down
It's only right that you should
Play the way you feel it
But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat.. drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost...
And what you had...
And what you lost
Thunder only happens when it's raining
Players only love you when they're playing
Say... Women... they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean... you'll know
Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
Fleetwood Mac


Being committed
June 25th, 2011


Figure yours.

If two contrary actions...

...be started in the same subject, a change must necessarily take place, either in both, or in one of the two, and continue until they cease to be contrary. –Spinoza
June 24th, 2011

Thanks to The New Sheldon wet/dry!


by Anna Garforth
June 20th, 2011

Mashin' it all up

Will I see you give
more than I can take?
Will I only harvest some?
As the days fly past
will we lose our grasp
Or fuse it in the sun?
But now it's gettin' late
And the moon is climbin' high
I want to see you dance again
On this harvest moon.

The Synapse Between Here and There

Painting by Tran Nguyen
June 18th, 2011

"Oh dancing with myself
Well there's nothing to lose
And there's nothing to prove
I'll be dancing with myself"
–Billy Idol

The Forbidden Quest (1993)

by Peter Delpeut
June 15th, 2011

Via Zeitgeist Films: "A harrowing adventure story in the tradition of Melville and Conrad. The Forbidden Quest brilliantly weaves together astonishing actual film from early polar expeditions with an outlandish tale of obsession, murder, cannibalism and mystical redemption, leading the spectator into a magical landscape of unimaginable extremes."

Via Movie Reviews: "In his The Forbidden Quest, Delpeut begins with spectacular images of polar expeditions—probably shot between 1905 and 1925—and adds a soundtrack, actors, and newly staged scenes to create a hybrid, fake 'documentary' in which the old genuine footage becomes part of the new, fictitious tale. Sounds crazy, but it works. Delpeut has an extraordinary flair for capturing the feel of isolation and dread that can be found only the most wide-open of spaces, and the incredibly beautiful, color-tinted archival footage is incorporated into his story in a genuinely chilling manner; it gives his whole absurd tale—about an underground passage to Antarctica—the flavor of a classic ghost story. Delpeut's films (he also made the extraordinary Lyrical Nitrate) aren't for everyone, but for those who can be awestruck by rare old film footage of places that we normally visit only in dreams, there's nothing like them."

Thanks to Jörg Follert!

Filed under: Wunderkammer

How Many Friends Does One Person Need?

by Robin Dunbar
June 9th, 2011

From The LA Review of Books: "Our big brains — in particular our species’ inordinately large neocortex — evolved, Dunbar argues, in lockstep with our ability to manage increasingly large social groups: to read motives, to keep track of who is doing what with whom, of who is a reliable sharer, who a likely freeloader, and so on. Many evolutionary biologists have made this point over the years, of course. Where Dunbar is unique is in having assigned a definite number to what constitutes a stable human group or community. The Dunbar’s number of his title is (drum roll…) 150. Extrapolating from the estimated size of Neolithic villages, of Amish and other communities, of companies in most armies, and other such data, Dunbar argues that this number is, more or less, the limit of stable social networks because it represents the limit, more or less, of our cognitive capacities.

The number is highly debatable, but it turns out that, Facebook aside, the average person has about 150 friends — people he or she might actually recognize and be recognized by at a random airport, 150 people he or she might feel comfortable borrowing five dollars from. As for how many friends we have evolved to need in a more intimate sense, that is a different matter. According to Dunbar, most of us have, on average, about 3-5 intimate friends whom we speak to at least weekly, and about 10-15 more friends whose deaths would greatly distress us."


What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, although puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture. —Sir Thomas Browne
June 5th, 2011

From Cabinet Magazine: "In the first years of the twenty-first century, New York City police officers had six different siren noises at their fingertips to alternate and overdub as they attempted to bore through stagnant traffic.
The Yelp is a high-pitched, rapidly oscillating, jumpy sound that suggests a small dog with large teeth has hold of your thigh and is not about to let go.
The Wail is the classic keening noise that the Furies might release while pursuing vengeance.
The Hi-Lo, or European, is whiney, forlorn—prone to depression, but undeniably civilized.
The Air-Horn is vulgarity incarnate—a burp, a rasp, an all-out bursty blast.
The Fast or Priority resembles a hysteric who’s just mainlined crystal meth.
The Manual is an outcast loner raising its rifle in a solitary low-to-high pulse."

Listen to them here.

There are no solutions, only decisions. –Kierkegaard

Violent Past by Low
June 1st, 2011

All I can do is fight
Even if I know you're right
All I can do is fight
Pretty fingers holding fast
Maybe it's your violent past
Maybe it's your violent past
All you can do is hide
God bless the darkness of the night
All you can do is hide
Pretty fingers, the golden calf
Maybe it's your violent past

Great concert last night after a not so great day.

Accidental Mysteries

An online curiosity shop of extraordinary things by John Foster
May 26th, 2011

Seven Things Designers Can Learn from Stand Up Comics

by Michael Bierut
May 19th, 2011

Via Design Observer:

"1. It's all about the basics.
2. Once you've mastered the basics, make your work your own.
3. Respect your audience.
4. Know your tools.
5. Honor your craft.
6. Don't be afraid of failure.
7. Finally, never forget you have a special gift. (...)

Near the end of the show, Chris Rock talks about what a pleasure it is to watch anyone do anything really well, even a great truck driver. 'I just saw this guy park an 18-wheeler into this narrow space,' he says. 'And I said I guarantee you there's heart surgery that's not as hard as what this guy just did.' Louis agreed. 'I watched a guy pull into a loading dock, and I stopped and said, 'That was amazing.' And he was like, 'Yeah, I know, I know.'' If you're a designer, it's easy to forget that what you do is, in so many ways, amazing. Appreciate that gift in yourself. Appreciate the gifts of others. And look for lessons wherever you can find them."

Mind Reading: The brain and music

ECoG detects electrical signals coming from the brain itself
May 15th, 2011

Via NPR: "Schalk is showing me the results of experiments he did using ECoG to monitor people listening to The Wall. He points toward two waveforms on the computer screen. One shows the mountains and valleys that represent changes in the music volume; the second waveform looks very similar, but it represents the electrical signals generated by the brain in response to the music.
'There's a very close correlation between the actual loudness in the music that is just playing right now and the intensity of the music that we're decoding or inferring from the person's brain,' Schalk says. 'Isn't that pretty awesome?'
The brain signal is so distinctive you could almost recognize the music from the waveform alone, Schalk says.
In the second part of the music experiment, volunteers listened to Pink Floyd for about 10 seconds, then the music was interrupted by about a second of complete silence.
The experiment shows that while it may have been silent in the room during the test, it was not silent in the volunteers' brains.
Schalk's computer screen shows that even when the music stops, the waveform from the brain continues as if the music were still playing. What we're seeing is the brain's attempt to fill in the missing sounds, Schalk says.
'The brain basically tells us a lot of information about the music in the times when there is really no music,' he says.

23 Enigma, as 2 plus 3 equals 5

Heil Discordia!
April 23rd, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "Discordianism is a 'Ha Ha, Only Serious' joke, using humor to subversively spread what its members regard as a valid philosophy. To keep said beliefs from becoming dangerous fanaticism, they rely on self-subverting Dada-Zen humor, with varying degrees of success. It is regarded as a joke religion, though to what degree is disputed.
It has been likened to Zen, based on similarities with absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school. Discordianism is centered on the idea that chaos is all that there is, and that disorder and order are both illusions that are imposed on chaos. These are referred to, respectively, as the Eristic and Aneristic illusions. Discordianism recognizes the positive aspects of chaos, discord, and dissent as valid and desirable qualities, in contrast with most religions, which idealize harmony and order.

Via Wikipedia: "The 23 enigma refers to the belief that most incidents and events are directly connected to the number 23, some modification of the number 23, or a number related to the number 23."

The Possibilian

David Eagleman about the mysteries of time and the brain
April 20th, 2011

Via The New Yorker: "'Try this exercise,' he suggests in a recent essay. 'Put this book down and go look in a mirror. Now move your eyes back and forth, so that you’re looking at your left eye, then at your right eye, then at your left eye again. When your eyes shift from one position to the other, they take time to move and land on the other location. But here’s the kicker: you never see your eyes move.' There’s no evidence of any gaps in your perception—no darkened stretches like bits of blank film—yet much of what you see has been edited out. Your brain has taken a complicated scene of eyes darting back and forth and recut it as a simple one: your eyes stare straight ahead. Where did the missing moments go?

The question raises a fundamental issue of consciousness: how much of what we perceive exists outside of us and how much is a product of our minds? Time is a dimension like any other, fixed and defined down to its tiniest increments: millennia to microseconds, aeons to quartz oscillations. Yet the data rarely matches our reality. The rapid eye movements in the mirror, known as saccades, aren’t the only things that get edited out. The jittery camera shake of everyday vision is similarly smoothed over, and our memories are often radically revised. What else are we missing?"

A Six-Faceted Diamond

Psychological Flexibility
April 15th, 2011

Via Russ Harris, MD (PDF): "Psychological flexibility is the ability to be in the present moment with full awareness and openness to our experience, and to take action guided by our values. Put more simply, it’s the ability to be present, open up, and do what matters. Technically speaking, the primary aim of ACT is to increase psychological flexibility. The greater our ability to be fully conscious, to be open to our experience, and to act on our values, the greater our quality of life because we can respond far more effectively to the problems and challenges life inevitably brings. Furthermore, through engaging fully in our life and allowing our values to guide us, we develop a sense of meaning and purpose, and we experience a sense of vitality. We use the word vitality a lot in ACT, and it’s important to recognize that vitality is not a feeling; it is a sense of being fully alive and embracing the here and now, regardless of how we may be feeling in this moment."

Les Aventuriers

Fort Boyard
April 9th, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "Fort Boyard is a fort located between the Île-d'Aix and the Île d'Oléron in the Pertuis d'Antioche straits, on the west coast of France. It is 61 metres long, 31 metres wide, and its walls are 20 metres high.

The construction of the fort was first considered during a build-up of the French armed forces undertaken by Louis XIV between 1661 and 1667, but Vauban, his leading military engineer, famously advised against it, saying 'Sire, it would be easier to catch the moon with the teeth than take on such an endeavour in such a location'. Fort Boyard was to form a line of fortification with Fort Enet and Fort de la Rade on Île-d'Aix to protect the arsenal of Rochefort from Royal Navy incursions.

Construction of the fort did not begin in earnest until 1801, under orders from Napoleon, when laborers were brought to Boyardville. It was designed and constructed to protect the coast and the arsenal of Rochefort from possible incursions by foreign (and especially British) navies. At that time, cannons only had a limited range, and the distance between the two islands of Aix and Oleron was too large to block the passage. (...)

In 1961 the Commune sold the fort to the département of Charente-Maritime. Six years later, the final scene of the French film Les Aventuriers was filmed at the remains of the fort."

Thanks to Karin @ Traumathek!


Rendering the 20th century
April 8th, 2011

RNDRD is a frequently updated feed of high-quality images from published architectural projects of the 20th century. RNDRD does not publish photographs of completed work, only renderings: hand-drawing, collage, models and graphics of all sorts. RNDRD uses out-of-print academic and trade journals as its source of images, culling the most striking renderings from thousands of pages of print that will not be available online. RNDRD aims to provide a clearer image of the evolution of architectural rendering, from turn-of-the-century beaux-arts drawings and 60s collage to the emergence of computer graphics and renderings in the 1980s. As the internet increasingly becomes the main source for architects to engage with precedence in architectural rendering, RNDRD hope to provide a broader array of images and methods of image-making, simply by trudging through the dusty bookshelves of now un-read and un-referenced work.

The hero's journey

The 17 Stages of the Monomyth
April 3rd, 2011

The Call to Adventure
Refusal of the Call
Supernatural Aid
The Crossing of the First Threshold
Belly of The Whale

The Road of Trials
The Meeting With the Goddess
Woman as Temptress
Atonement with the Father
The Ultimate Boon

Refusal of the Return
The Magic Flight
Rescue from Without
The Crossing of the Return Threshold
Master of Two Worlds
Freedom to Live

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Altruism has 3 degrees of separation
April 1st, 2011

Via Epiphenom: "One of the mysteries of human behaviour is why we sometimes act with completely selfless altruism. When asked to play totally anonymous games in which we can cheat without anyone else ever finding out, very often we don't.

Instead, we play the game fairly, which results in a cost to ourselves (compared with what we could've had) and a benefit to the stranger. That's a mystery because evolution says that organisms which don't act to maximise benefit to themselves - whatever the cost to others - should die out.

Several explanations have been put forward, but one of the most intriguing stems from the fact that we live in social networks. In a network like this, we depend critically on the kindness of others.

A new study has looked at how altruistic behaviour can be transmitted between players in the kinds of anonymous games that social psychologists are so fond of. The data were from some earlier experiments in which 240 people played the games over six rounds, each time with different partners (all anonymous).

What they found was that the amount individuals contributed in one round was affected by how generous their partners were in previous rounds. If they played with generous people in round 1, then they would be more generous to the new partners they had in round 2.

In fact, they showed that this effect was propagated through new partners. As you can see in the figure, if Eleni was generous to Lucas, then Lucas would be generous to Erika, and Erika more generous to Jay.

Unselfish acts propagated out to 3 degrees of separation. When you remember that only 6 degrees of separation stand between you and every other person on the planet, you can understand how powerful and important this effect is."

Psychology of Music

The effect of looks and musical preference on trait inference
March 16th, 2011

Via SAGE (PDF): "When forming first impressions about individuals, we often categorize them as belonging to a specific social group, based on very little information. Certain aspects in the way a person looks, or information about a certain trait they possess, may lead us to identify them as belonging to a high- or low-status social group. (…)

Listening to music is an activity that plays an important role in people's lives, especially in adolescence and young adulthood. Individuals consider the music they like as an important part of themselves, and believe their taste in music reveals aspects of their own personality, more than preferences for books, clothing, food, movies and television shows. The idea that personal musical taste is related to other aspects of personality has in fact received further confirmation in various studies relating musical preferences and particular personality traits. Thus, for example, liking for rock, heavy metal and punk were found to be positively related to sensation-seeking; extraversion and psychoticism were found to be related to liking for music with exaggerated bass such as rap and dance music, and to stimulating music such as rock-and-roll and pop; rebelliousness was found to be related to liking for defiant music. (…)

Studies suggest that knowing a person's musical taste has a powerful effect on how they are perceived and evaluated."


Science for a changing world
March 12th, 2011

From Wikipedia: "Civilization (or civilisation) is a sometimes controversial term which has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to human cultures which are complex in terms of technology, science, politics and division of labour. Such civilizations are generally urbanized. In classical contexts civilized peoples were called this in contrast to barbarian peoples, while in modern contexts civilized peoples have been contrasted to primitive peoples."

From USGS: "The USGS is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and useable information."

Hummingbird induced to a deep sleep

Fernando Ortega, 2006
March 11th, 2011

Via Los Angeles Times: "As John Cage famously remarked, 'If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight…. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.'"
Side note: Don't miss the comments for this article – beyond believe.

We no longer live in a society of spectacle but in one of participation.

Music—Immateriality—Value by Diedrich Diederichsen
February 12th, 2011

Via e-flux: "What is to be done? Pop music cannot be rescued; something new must be invented to take its place, and music may or may not have a role to play in whatever that turns out to be. One cannot set out to invent such a thing, just as pop music itself simply emerged, as it were, in places far from the forward march of progress, in a development that was historically necessary, as we know today, but was unpredictable for its contemporaries. It did not arise where enlightened people tried something new, but where others acted quickly and from a sense of spiritual urgency. We must remain open to the possibility of something similar happening again. But pop music was only able to come into being by repeatedly coming into contact with radical artistic forces, as when John Cale and La Monte Young developed The Dream Syndicate from the spirit of the Everly Brothers, or Tony Conrad suspected that the solipsistic drone might be used as an anticapitalist weapon. So while one can no longer reconstruct pop music in a purposeful and systematic way, one can still move forward with the neo-neo-avant-garde work of utopian practices or their derivatives—perhaps in a more complex and radical manner, while touching on other arts that have similar problems—at the admittedly high price of creating niches, provided that one also remain in contact with the world of cheap and worn-out forms that have preserved something of people’s actual lives, however unrecognizable they may have become. These do not necessarily have to be musical forms. What is needed, however—not for economic reasons, but for political and cultural ones—are reference points for everyone. The niche has become neither a utopia nor a permanent state of affairs, but rather the end."

Thanks to Marcus Schmickler!


I don't know what you mean
February 5th, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "Ignosticism, or igtheism, is the theological position that every other theological position (including agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts. (…)
An ignostic maintains that they cannot even say whether he/she is a theist or an atheist until a sufficient definition of theism is put forth. (…)

A simplified maxim on the subject states: An atheist would say, 'I don't believe God exists'; an agnostic would say, 'I don't know whether or not God exists'; and an ignostic would say, 'I don't know what you mean when you say, "God exists" '."

Above: Incredible porcelain doll by Marina Bychkova.

How to Make Trillions of Dollars

by David Cain
January 29th, 2010

Via Raptitude: "The big money isn't in creating products, it's in creating customers. A single, lifelong customer who lives his life spending the way you want him to is worth six or seven figures. A single one. Creating millions of these is the only way to make trillions.

You can make millions by selling a great product to people who need it, but you make billions and trillions by conditioning an entire nation of people to react to every inconvenience, every whim, and every passing desire or fear by buying something. (…)

You are being encouraged, from virtually every angle, to become or remain unhealthy and unfulfilled, because then you will buy more. Not to make you paranoid, but that's the primary purpose of the glowing rectangle in your living room — to encourage poor (but not quite failing) health, general complacency, and an unconscious reflex for parting with money."

The Neuroscience Of Music

by Jonah Lehrer
January 27th, 2011

Via Wired: "A new paper in Nature Neuroscience by a team of Montreal researchers marks an important step in revealing the precise underpinnings of the potent pleasurable stimulus that is music. (…)

In essence, the scientists found that our favorite moments in the music were preceeded by a prolonged increase of activity in the caudate. They call this the anticipatory phase and argue that the purpose of this activity is to help us predict the arrival of our favorite part."

Mindfulness meditation and the brain

Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure
January 26th, 2011

Via Boing Boing: "A Massachusetts General Hospital study in next week's Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging shows marked brain changes over an eight-week practice of mindfulness meditation. Of course, by definition, every experience you have makes changes in your brain (that's pretty much the definition of experience: something that changes your brain), but in this case, the changes point to deep and lasting effects as a result of meditation that correspond to the reported experience of meditators. (This confirms earlier research from the hospital, like this study from 2005). (…)

Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn (Google Video)"

Via UC Television: "Renowned mindfulness meditation teacher and best-selling author Jon Kabat-Zinn speaks at UCSD Medical Center on the topic of Coming to Our Senses, which is also the name of his new book, subtitled Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness. A pioneer in the application of ancient Buddhist practices to healing in modern medical settings, Kabat-Zinn expounds upon the value of 'resting in awareness' not only to facilitate clarity in ourselves, but also as a means of relating to and healing the 'dis-ease' in politics, society and the world.
Series: Health Sciences Journal 11/1999"

Let's Make Money

January 15th, 2011

Via Wikipedia: "Let's Make Money is an anti-capitalist Austrian documentary by Erwin Wagenhofer released in 2008. It is about aspects of the development of the world wide financial system, focussing on how elitists economically exploit the rest of society, especially in the developing world, but also in western nations. (...)

Writing in the The Financial Times, Christopher Caldwell praises the film's beauty, going on to state that Wagenhofer has a perfect sense for pictorial composition and even for sound. Though he also writes that film is an imperfect medium for providing an accurate view of complex economic developments. Caldwell opines that rather than providing a coherent argument, the film 'resembles an art film such as Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Godfrey Reggio's haunting, wordless indictment of the frenzy of modern life'."

Thanks to Lena Willikens!

Waking yourself up

Without an Alarm Clock
January 12th, 2011

Via wikiHow: "Scientists have discovered that about an hour before a person expects to wake up, the body begins releasing a relatively high concentration of the hormone adrenocorticotropin into the blood. They believe that this may prepare the person to wake up. If this is true, you need only prompt the release of this hormone at the right time. (…)

If possible, try to sleep for a multiple of about 90 minutes; your sleep cycle repeats in approximately 90 minute intervals (this will differ from person to person). You can use this to your advantage, as it's easier to awaken from the lighter part (the end) of your sleep cycle."

People vs. Planet

7 Billion
January 10th, 2010

From National Geographic: "Before the 20th century, no human had lived through a doubling of the human population, but there are people alive today who have seen it triple. Sometime in late 2011, according to the UN Population Division, there will be seven billion of us. (…)

The annual meeting of the Population Association of America (PAA) is one of the premier gatherings of the world's demographers. Last April the global population explosion was not on the agenda. 'The problem has become a bit passé,' Hervé Le Bras says. Demographers are generally confident that by the second half of this century we will be ending one unique era in history—the population explosion—and entering another, in which population will level out or even fall. (…)

But one can also draw a different conclusion – that fixating on population numbers is not the best way to confront the future. People packed into slums need help, but the problem that needs solving is poverty and lack of infrastructure, not overpopulation. Giving every woman access to family planning services is a good idea – 'the one strategy that can make the biggest difference to women's lives,' Chandra calls it. But the most aggressive population control program imaginable will not save Bangladesh from sea level rise, Rwanda from another genocide, or all of us from our enormous environmental problems. (…)

The number of people does matter, of course. But how people consume resources matters a lot more. Some of us leave much bigger footprints than others. The central challenge for the future of people and the planet is how to raise more of us out of poverty – the slum dwellers in Delhi, the subsistence farmers in Rwanda – while reducing the impact each of us has on the planet. (…)

How many people can the Earth support? Cohen spent years reviewing all the research, from Leeuwenhoek on. 'I wrote the book thinking I would answer the question,' he says. 'I found out it's unanswerable in the present state of knowledge.' What he found instead was an enormous range of  'political numbers, intended to persuade people' one way or the other. (…)

Seven billion of us soon, nine billion in 2045. Let's hope that Malthus was right about our ingenuity."


A bucket full of Top 10 lists
January 4th, 2011

This page by Rex Sorgatz aggregates all of the lists related to 2010. Be prepared to get lost for hours. Totally amazing stuff.

To reverberate

FOUND magazine
January 2nd, 2011

My last present in 2010 represents everything I like: Sampling, collages and archiving. Also, it reminds me of my love for the analog in general.
Via Found Magazine: "We collect found stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, doodles – anything that gives a glimpse into someone else's life. Anything goes."

Thanks to Helen Schneider!

End of 2010

Summary in Ten
December 31st, 2010

Book The Ego Tunnel by Thomas Metzinger provides a stunningly original take on the mystery of the mind in a time when the science of cognition is becoming as controversial as evolution.
Concert The mindblowing audiovisual Bonner Durchmusterung at Institute For Music And Media by Marcus Schmickler (composition), Carsten Goertz/ farn (visuals) and Alberto de Camp (sonification).
Had the dish best served cold at Feedmee (pun intended) and let it go. The bliss kept me up all night and I just could not stop rejoicing. Was also one of those beautiful first days of summer. Thanks for the support, Nicola.
Perfume Black Afgano by Nasomatto, which is almost sold out worldwide. Thanks to my wonderful cousin for getting me another bottle in London.
Position Down Dog and four deep gasps. 
Quote "It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to." – W. C. Fields.
Recource I love the New Shelton wet/dry for the witty assembly of headline, photo and text always creating something much bigger than the sum of its parts – a Gestalt, in the true sense of its meaning.
Talk Jiddu Krishnamurti's (1995-1986) seven talks and five Q&A meetings, Saanen, Switzerland in 1980 allow an impressive introduction to his radical thinking.
Unbearable loss Christoph Schlingensief (1960–2010). "He encompassed everything we hope of our heroes: virtue, magnetism and the absolute belief in his chosen mission. He had the ability to mobilize the outcast, and the gifted, instilling all with the strength and confidence that he possessed in abundance." – Patti Smith
Useful concept ACT – in short: Mindfulness and acceptance.

So, here we are... And what is next?


by James Burke
December 24th, 2010

Via kottge.org: "Connections is a ten-episode documentary television series created, written and presented by science historian James Burke. The series was produced and directed by Mick Jackson of the BBC Science & Features Department and first aired in 1978 (UK) and 1979 (USA). It took an interdisciplinary approach to the history of science and invention and demonstrated how various discoveries, scientific achievements, and historical world events were built from one another successively in an interconnected way to bring about particular aspects of modern technology.

Connections explores an Alternative View of Change (the subtitle of the series) that rejects the conventional linear and teleological view of historical progress. Burke contends that one cannot consider the development of any particular piece of the modern world in isolation. Rather, the entire gestalt of the modern world is the result of a web of interconnected events, each one consisting of a person or group acting for reasons of their own motivations (e.g. profit, curiosity, religious) with no concept of the final, modern result of what either their or their contemporaries' actions finally led to. The interplay of the results of these isolated events is what drives history and innovation, and is also the main focus of the series and its sequels.

Here's the first episode to get you started. Warning: you may not be able to stop. If you'd like to watch the series in a less irritating format, you can always purchase it on DVD."

It Takes a Nation of Lawyers to Hold Us Back

by Dmitri Siegel
December 21st, 2010

Via Design Observer: "The last decade of litigation has brought similar and chilling trends in a every media. It is disconcerting to realize that creative pursuits like music, filmmaking and graphic design are shaped to some degree by unromantic things like copyright law. But if we scan down the history of collage and appropriation we can see the constant influence of political and socio-economic context: Sergey Eisenstein connected his idea of intellectual montage directly to the Bolshevik Revolution, Dada artists like Hannah Höch harnessed the brut power of collage in reaction to war and fascism, and in the late-sixties Guy Debord formulated detournement — a form of transgressive appropriation — as part of a widespread social movement. This history casts a revealing light on the Smithsonian/Showtime deal, and the diminution of sampling in general. It may be gratifying to imagine that our field is animated by an evolving aesthetic consensus, but the fact is that larger social and economic forces exert an immense and often invisible influence over creative practice."

From the comments: "One person who is providing a model for how to deal in archival footage without generating more restrictive copyrights is Rick Prelinger. The Prelinger Archive offers thousands of clips for free download and has demonstrated that this drives business to the clips he sells through Getty Images. Another organization working to create an alternative copyright reality is Creative Commons which offers a range of voluntary 'some rights reserved' licenses. A great general resource on this topic is Stay Free magazine which I relied on heavily while researching this article."


Organized needly
December 20th, 2010

Via Wikipedia: "Knolling is the process of arranging like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization.
The term was first used in 1987 by Andrew Kromelow, a janitor at Frank Gehry's furniture fabrication shop. At the time, Gehry was designing chairs for Knoll, a company famously known for Florence Knoll's angular furniture. Kromelow would arrange any displaced tools at right angles on all surfaces, and called this routine knolling, in that the tools were arranged in right angles — similar to Knoll furniture. The result was an organized surface that allowed the user to see all objects at once."

The U-bend of life

Why, beyond middle age, people get happier as they get older
December 19th, 2010

From The Economist: "When people start out on adult life, they are, on average, pretty cheerful. Things go downhill from youth to middle age until they reach a nadir commonly known as the mid-life crisis. So far, so familiar. The surprising part happens after that. Although as people move towards old age they lose things they treasure — vitality, mental sharpness and looks — they also gain what people spend their lives pursuing: happiness.

This curious finding has emerged from a new branch of economics that seeks a more satisfactory measure than money of human well-being. Conventional economics uses money as a proxy for utility — the dismal way in which the discipline talks about happiness. But some economists, unconvinced that there is a direct relationship between money and well-being, have decided to go to the nub of the matter and measure happiness itself."

Into the dark forrest

Play your mind
December 11th, 2010

Via the New Shelton wet/dry: "We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, an effort which no one can spare us." Marcel Proust

Via Neuroskeptic: "What's the best way to overcome depression? Antidepressant drugs, or Buddhist meditation?
A new trial has examined this question. The short answer is that 8 weeks of mindfulness mediation training was just as good as prolonged antidepressant treatment over 18 months. But like all clinical trials, there are some catches."


Solitude and Leadership
December 5th, 2010

Via The American Scholar: "Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people's ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.

I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else's; it's always what I've already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It's only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn't turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing."

I hate to tell you

On but-heads
December 2nd, 2010

Via The Boston Globe: "These contrary-to-fact phrases have been dubbed (by the Twitter user GrammarHulk and others) but-heads, because they're at the head of the sentence, and usually followed by but. They’ve also been dubbed false fronts, wishwashers, and, less cutely, lying qualifiers.

The point of a but-head is to preemptively deny a charge that has yet to be made, with a kind of 'best offense is a good defense' strategy. This technique has a distinguished relative in classical rhetoric: the device of procatalepsis, in which the speaker brings up and immediately refutes the anticipated objections of his or her hearer. (...)

Once you start looking for these but-heads, you see them everywhere, and you see how much they reveal about the speaker. When someone says 'It's not about the money, but…', it's almost always about the money. If you hear 'It really doesn't matter to me, but…', odds are it does matter, and quite a bit. Someone who begins a sentence with 'Confidentially' is nearly always betraying a confidence; someone who starts out 'Frankly,' or 'Honestly,' 'To be (completely) honest with you,' or 'Let me give it to you straight' brings to mind Ralph Waldo Emerson's quip: 'The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.'"

Unconditional basic income

November 28th, 2010

Via Bijan Kafi: "The film with a length of more than one and a half hours has been produced by Enno Schmidt and Daniel Häni and is also available via the thematic portal grundeinkommen.tv. It provides a comprehensive and emotional introduction to the topic and is certainly worth the time for anyone interested in the issue."

Thanks to Manfred Waffender!

Via Wikipedia: "A basic income guarantee (or basic income) is a proposed system of social security, that periodically provides each citizen with a sum of money. In contrast to income redistribution between nations themselves, the phrase basic income defines payments to individuals rather than households, groups, or nations, in order to provide for individual basic human needs. Except for citizenship, a basic income is entirely unconditional. Furthermore, there is no means test; the richest as well as the poorest citizens would receive it."

Murder your darlings

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863–1944)
November 25th, 2010

Arthur Quiller-Couch's Cambridge inaugural lecture series, published as On the Art of Writing, is the source of the popular writers' adage murder your darlings.
Via Bartleby.com: "...if you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings."

Are we living in the end times?

Slavoj Žižek on AlJazeeraa
November 21st, 2010

Via AlJazeeraEnglish: "Is the world ignoring the signs of the so-called end times? Renowned philosopher and critic, Slavoj Žižek, explains what he thinks is causing the downhill slide, and points to the faltering economy, global warming and deteriorating ethnic relations as evidence."

Thanks to Marcus Schmickler!

The ad industry...

...might get left behind.
November 19th, 2010

Via Fast Company: "Like a beetle preserved in amber, the practice of advertising has sat virtually unchanged for the last half-century. Before 1960, ad making was a solitary practice. Copywriters toiled away on words to pitch a product, then handed them off to an art director who translated them into an illustration or photograph. Creative director Bill Bernbach (the B in DDB) changed all that when he recognized that pairing wordsmith and artist could spark genius. That simple move ignited the industry's creative revolution, raising the practice of advertising from sleazy salesmanship to some permutation of art.

The ad business became an assembly line as predictable as Henry Ford's. The client (whose goal was to get the word out about a product) paid an agency's account executive (whose job was to lure the client and then keep him happy), who briefed the brand planner (whose research uncovered the big consumer insight), who briefed the media planner (who decided which channel – radio, print, outdoor, direct mail, or TV – to advertise in). Then the copywriter/art director team would pass on its work (a big idea typically represented by storyboards for a 30-second TV commercial) to the producer (who worked with a director and editors to film and edit the commercial). Thanks to the media buyer (whose job was to wine-and-dine media companies to lower the price of TV spots, print pages, or radio slots), the ad would get funneled, like relatively fresh sausage, into some combination of those five mass media, which were anything but equal. TV ruled the world. After all, it not only reached a mass audience but was also the most expensive medium – and the more the client spent, the more money the ad agency made.

That was then. Over the past few years, because of a combination of Internet disintermediation, recession, and corporate blindness, the assembly line has been obliterated – economically, organizationally, and culturally. In the ad business, the relatively good life of 2007 is as remote as the whiskey highs of 1962. 'Here we go again,' moans Andy Nibley, the former CEO of ad agency Marsteller who, over the past decade, has also been the CEO of the digital arms of both Reuters and Universal Music. 'First the news business, then the music business, then advertising. Is there any industry I get involved in that doesn't get destroyed by digital technology?'"

Ambivalence or Thinking in shades of gray

The Carpet Crawlers
November 1st, 2010

Mild mannered supermen are held in kryptonite,
And the wise and foolish virgins giggle with their bodies glowing bright.
Through a door a harvest feast is lit by candlelight;
It's the bottom of a staircase that spirals out of sight.
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:
"We've got to get in to get out."

The porcelain mannikin with shattered skin fears attack.
The eager pack lift up their pitchers - they carry all they lack.
The liquid has congealed, which has seeped out through the crack,
And the tickler takes his stickleback.
The carpet crawlers heed their callers:
"We've got to get in to get out."

The Corporation

October 30th, 2010

From Wikipedia: "The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary is critical of the modern-day corporation, considering its legal status as a class of person and evaluating its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person. This is explored through specific examples. The Corporation has been shown worldwide, on television, and via DVD, file sharing, and free download. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming of the documentary."

Thanks to Ralf Neubauer!


...does not exist.
October 22nd, 2010

From Wiring the Brain: "Colour does not exist. Not out in the world at any rate. All that exists in the world is a smooth continuum of light of different wavelengths. Colour is a construction of our brains. A lot is known about how the brain does this, beginning with complicated circuits in the retina itself.

Thanks to a new paper from Greg Field and colleagues we now have an even more detailed picture of how retinal circuits are wired to enable light to be categorized into different colours. This study illustrates a dramatic and fundamental principle of brain wiring – namely that cells that fire together, wire together."

Paradoxical fusion of submission and subversion

What Does It Mean To Be Cool?
October 14th, 2010

From Philosophy Now: "In principle, to be cool means to remain calm even under stress. But this doesn't explain why there is now a global culture of cool. What is cool?

The aesthetics of cool developed mainly as a behavioral attitude practiced by black men in the United States at the time of slavery. Slavery made necessary the cultivation of special defense mechanisms which employed emotional detachment and irony. A cool attitude helped slaves and former slaves to cope with exploitation or simply made it possible to walk the streets at night. During slavery, and long afterwards, overt aggression by blacks was punishable by death. Provocation had to remain relatively inoffensive, and any level of serious intent had to be disguised or suppressed. So cool represents a paradoxical fusion of submission and subversion. It’s a classic case of resistance to authority through creativity and innovation. (…)

In spite of the ambiguity, it seems that we remain capable of distinguishing cool attitudes from uncool ones. So what is cool? Let me say that cool resists linear structures. Thus a straightforward, linear search for power is not cool. Constant loss of power is not cool either. Winning is cool; but being ready to do anything to win is not. Both moralists and totally immoral people are uncool, while people who maintain moral standards in straightforwardly immoral environments are most likely to be cool. A CEO is not cool, unless he is a reasonable risk-taker and refrains from pursuing success in a predictable fashion. Coolness is a nonconformist balance that manages to square circles and to personify paradoxes. This has been well known since at least the time of cool jazz. This paradoxical nature has much to do with cool's origins being the fusion of submission and subversion. (…)

In ancient Greece, the Stoic philosophers supported a vision of coolness in a turbulent world. The Stoic indifference to fate can be interpreted as the supreme principle of coolness, and has even been been viewed as such in the context of African American culture. The style of the jazz musician Lester Young, for example, was credible mostly because Young was neither proud nor ashamed."

(via: the New Shelton wet/dry)

At home

Inspiring photo blogs
October 10th, 2010


Collective intelligence

Tendency to cooperate effectively is linked to the number of women in a group
October 2nd, 2010

From Eurek Alert: "New study finds groups demonstrate distinctive collective intelligence when facing difficult tasks. (…)

That collective intelligence, the researchers believe, stems from how well the group works together. For instance, groups whose members had higher levels of social sensitivity were more collectively intelligent. 'Social sensitivity has to do with how well group members perceive each other's emotions,' says Christopher Chabris. (…)

The average and maximum intelligence of individual group members did not significantly predict the performance of their groups overall. (…)

Only when analyzing the data did the co-authors suspect that the number of women in a group had significant predictive power. 'We didn't design this study to focus on the gender effect,' Malone says. 'That was a surprise to us.' However, further analysis revealed that the effect seemed to be explained by the higher social sensitivity exhibited by females, on average."

Nights in white satin

Memory as a resource
September 28th, 2010

From Thoughts on Thoughts: "Some people are surprised, even disturbed, by the idea that our vision does not give us an accurate picture of what we look at. For example, the colours we experience are not a measure of the wavelength of the light entering our eyes. But accuracy is not the point of vision; the function is to be useful and colour consistency is far more useful then fidelity to wavelength spectra. The same surprise is shown in the reaction to the idea that our memories are reworked continuously so that over time they lose their accuracy. This is not a fault in memory. Again the reason we store memories is to have a useful resource, not necessarily one with detailed accuracy. A great deal of biological energy is used to create memories and to re-consolidate them and therefore we can assume that they have a very important biological role. (...)

A rapidly growing number of recent studies show the imagining the future depends on much of the same neural machinery that is needed for remembering the past. These findings have led to the concept of the prospective brain; an idea that a critical function of the brain is to use stored information to imagine, simulate and predict possible future events. We suggest that processes such as memory can be productively re-conceptualized in light of this idea."

She Bop

Building language skills more critical for boys than girls
September 25th, 2010

From Michigan State University News: "Developing language skills appears to be more important for boys than girls in helping them to develop self-control and, ultimately, succeed in school, according to a study led by a Michigan State University researcher. (...)

What was surprising, Vallotton said, was that language skills seemed so much more important to the regulation of boys' behavior. While girls overall seemed to have a more natural ability to control themselves and focus, boys with a strong vocabulary showed a dramatic increase in this ability to self-regulate – even doing as well in this regard as girls with a strong vocabulary."

In the zone

September 17th, 2010

From Wikipedia: "Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.

According to Csíkszentmihályi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.

Colloquial terms for this or similar mental states include: to be on the ball, in the moment, present, in the zone, in the groove, or keeping your head in the game."

Over the moon

Adam Phillips on the happiness myth
September 16th, 2010

From the Guardian: "We all want to be happy, we want our children to be happy, and there are countless books advising us how to achieve happiness. But is this really what we should be aiming for? (...)

It is not surprising, in other words, that happiness has always had rather a mixed reception. No one in their right minds we might think, especially now, would be promoting unhappiness; and yet the promotion, the preferring of happiness – the assumption of a right to happiness – brings with it a lot of things we might not like. And the desire for happiness may reveal things about ourselves that we like even less. 'A people who conceive life to be the pursuit of happiness must be chronically unhappy,' the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins wrote. (...)

I want to begin with three fairly obvious propositions that are also misgivings about the right to happiness or its pursuit. And I'd like to suggest that the right to frustration may be more useful and interesting – more enlivening – than the right to happiness. That's to say I want to waylay the common, all-too-plausible idea that the solution to frustration is satisfaction, or that happiness is the answer to unhappiness, or that if we get rid of the bad things, the good things will start happening. Happiness and the right to pursue it are sometimes wildly unrealistic as ideals; and, because wildly unrealistic, unconsciously self-destructive. (...)

Indeed we might end up thinking that a right to irresolvable conflict might be the most realistic right we could come up with. That the attempt to resolve at least some conflicts was a distraction from finding better ways of living them; that the right to pursue happiness has seduced us into pursuing happiness when we could have been doing something better. (...)

For better and for worse, being able to feel our frustration is the precondition for becoming absorbed. When this is impossible the pursuit of happiness tends to take over. The right to pursue happiness may be, at its worst, the right not to feel frustrated. And if frustration is not allowed to take its course, to take its time, there is no absorption, only refuges from unhappiness. (...)"


by Christian S
September 15th, 2010

Christian says: "Digimix made for power increasement while jogging with 160 steps per minute. For Heike, september 2010..." I say: It works and I am loving it. You might be lucky too, count your steps.

Thanks to Christian Schäfer!

Experiments in the Laboratory of Consumerism

by Adam Curtis
September 11th, 2010

From Dangerous Minds: "Fascinating think piece about advertising in the 1960s (and a little beyond) from Century of the Self documentarian Adam Curtis that sheds some interesting light on the actual historical Madison Avenue figures that certain characters from Mad Men seem to be based on."

From the above mentioned Experiments in the Laboratory of Consumerism 1959-67 by Adam Curtis: "The widespread fascination with the Mad Men series is far more than just simple nostalgia. It is about how we feel about ourselves and our society today.
In Mad Men we watch a group of people who live in a prosperous society that offers happiness and order like never before in history and yet are full of anxiety and unease. They feel there is something more, something beyond. And they feel stuck.
I think we are fascinated because we have a lurking feeling that we are living in a very similar time. A time that, despite all the great forces of history whirling around in the world outside, somehow feels stuck. And above all has no real vision of the future.
And as we watch the group of characters from 50 years ago, we get reassurance because we know that they are on the edge of a vast change that will transform their world and lead them out of their stifling technocratic order and back into the giant onrush of history.
The question is whether we might be at a similar point, waiting for something to happen. But we have no idea what it is going to be."

43 Dodgy Statements on Computer Art

by Brian Reffin Smith
September 10th, 2010

1. The sadness of most art is that it does not know its future. The sadness of computer art is that it does not know its past.
2. Constraint is liberty; reduce to the maximum.
3. If it looks just like, you know, art… it probably isn't.
4. Using state-of-the-art technology merely produces state-of-the-technology art.
5. Those who use computers to make art need to understand art as well as computers.
6. Most participative art is deeply authoritarian.
7. The computer is best characterised not as an information processor but as a general-purpose representation processor.
8. Marshall McLuhan, at least as filtered through his sound-bites, was often wrong. The medium is not the message, which is more often determined socially and psychologically by the recipient.
9. If your system costs 10 000 € and mine 30 000 €, it does not follow that my art is thrice as good as yours.
10. In an ideal world, New Media institutions would employ at least one non-technological artist.
11. Are you pushing the frontiers of computational representation, or of contemporary art? Confusion rarely leads to success.
12. 99% of computer art is meretricious nonsense. But then 99% of everything is meretricious nonsense.
13. Self-imposed formal requirements are not inhibitive of expression.
14. Post Modernism has never said that everything is of equal value, just that the contexts in which we identify or attribute value should be open to analysis.
15. You know your amazing new computer art, rich in metaphors and analogies? It's been done. Years ago. Without a computer.
16. We lose dimensions and scale. The computer in art is immediate and almost always, however "global", local. Just as no well-found art school would be complete without computers, so every such institution should have a telescope and a microscope, connected to the computer or not.
17. Making computer art too dangerous to sponsor would be a good way to go.
18. Just as everyone has a novel inside them, many believe they have an artwork. The purpose of a good art school is to seek out these people and stop them.
19. Using a computer merely to access the web is like using a Bugatti Veyron to deliver the papers.
20. Many people think that graphic design is art. Art is undertaken for art-like reasons, graphic design for graphic design-like reasons. There may of course be overlap. There should never be confusion.
21. Making the (arts) information revolution consists not only in enabling the control of the means of computer art production by art workers, but also in being kind, non-gouging and relatively honest. Without the latter, one may doubt commitment to the former.
22. The best interactive art always makes you look at the participants.
23. There is only one thing worse than studying art for the budding computer artist, and that is to study computers. Or vice versa.
24. Art is not craft.
25. What would be pretentious or nonsensical if one said it oneself does not become more worthy when spoken by a computer-generated avatar.
26. Seen in the light of Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle, computer art is very spectacular indeed.
27. Beware of computer art as farce repeating itself as history.
28. There is no normal computer art, in the Kuhnian sense. It is in constant revolution, hence constantly evading scrutiny.
29. When the first solitary Metro station was built in Paris, where could people travel to? They just admired the station.
30. Bugs are good; as with fireflies, the fertile ones shed light.
31. The Prix Pierre Gutzman, 100 000 Francs, was offered by the Institut de France in 1906 to the first person who could establish contact with extra-terrestrials; except with Martians, which would be too easy.
32. "All that is solid melts into air" is not a celebration of virtuality, but Marx 'n' Engels' prediction for late capitalism.
33. A half developed Polaroid photo is different to half a digital photo. A half-finished pen-plotter drawing is different to a half-finished inkjet print.
34. When art processes happen near-instantaneously, doing art becomes synonymous with correction and selection, later with celebration; rarely with creativity.
35. Art is visual philosophy. But computer art is not visual computer philosophy.
36. Revolutionary modes of interaction between humans and normative structures do not a revolution make.
37. "i", the imaginary square root of minus 1, is to the real numbers as the computer is — or should be — to art.
38. The purpose of the computer in art is to render it difficult and problematic, not easy.
39. We do not admire Picasso's Guernica or Goya's The Third of May 1808 solely because of the techniques used, yet we are often invited to admire computer art for just that reason. Art that is deliberately content-free is one thing. Art that is accidentally, lumpenly content-free is another.
40. Computer artist: the unemployable producing the unsaleable for the uninterested.
41. Of course computers and other devices will never fully understand flowing, allusive conversation. But they won't care.
42. Many of the objects of computer art are instances, illustrations, of some less tangible, invisible process. But it may be that the waveform should remain uncollapsed, the artwork staying undecideable, problematic, unobjectified. Lucy R. Lippard described the "dematerialization of the art object" nearly 40 years ago.
43. Never throw away any computer or peripheral equipment that is more than 15 years old. You may well come to need it.

Thanks to Sebastian Oschatz!


The eight domains of self-integration
September 5th, 2010

From Psychotherapy Networker: "What is a healthy mind? Is it simply the absence of symptoms and dysfunctions, or is there something more to a life well lived? How can we embrace the diversity of behavior, temperament, values, and orientation across a wide range of cultures and still come up with a coherent definition of health? Just as some scientists are reluctant to define the mind, some people say that we shouldn't define mental health at all, because it is authoritarian to do so — we shouldn't tell others how to be healthy. But how do we account for the universal striving for happiness? How do we understand the cross-culturally recognizable ease of well-being? Positive psychology has offered an important corrective to the disease model by identifying the characteristics of happy people, such as gratitude, compassion, open-mindedness, and curiosity, but is there some unnamed quality that underlies all of these individual strengths?

Over the last twenty years, I've come to believe that integration is the key mechanism beneath both the absence of illness and the presence of well-being. Integration — the linkage of differentiated elements of a system — illuminates a direct pathway toward health. It's the way we avoid a life of dull, boring rigidity on the one hand, or explosive chaos on the other. We can learn to detect when integration is absent or insufficient and develop effective strategies to promote differentiation and then linkage. The key to this transformation is cultivating the capacity for mindsight."

Time out.

Wang Gang-Feng. An Hui Province, 1982. The People's Republic of China.
August 17th, 2010

The Nature of Friendship

What is it?
August 2nd, 2010

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: "Friendship essentially involves a distinctive kind of concern for your friend, a concern which might reasonably be understood as a kind of love. Philosophers from the ancient Greeks on have traditionally distinguished three notions that can properly be called love: agape, eros, and philia. Agape is a kind of love that does not respond to the antecedent value of its object but instead is thought to create value in the beloved; it has come through the Christian tradition to mean the sort of love God has for us persons as well as, by extension, our love for God and our love for humankind in general. By contrast, em>eros and philia are generally understood to be responsive to the merits of their objects—to the beloved's properties, especially his goodness or beauty. The difference is that eros is a kind of passionate desire for an object, typically sexual in nature, whereas 'philia' originally meant a kind of affectionate regard or friendly feeling towards not just one's friends but also possibly towards family members, business partners, and one's country at large (Liddell et al., 1940; Cooper, 1977a). Given this classification of kinds of love, philia seems to be that which is most clearly relevant to friendship (though just what philia amounts to needs to be clarified in more detail).

For this reason, love and friendship often get lumped together as a single topic; nonetheless, there are significant differences between them. As understood here, love is an evaluative attitude directed at particular persons as such, an attitude which we might take towards someone whether or not that love is reciprocated and whether or not we have an established relationship with her. Friendship, by contrast, is essentially a kind of relationship grounded in a particular kind of special concern each has for the other as the person she is; and whereas we must make conceptual room for the idea of unrequited love, unrequited friendship is senseless. Consequently, accounts of friendship tend to understand it not merely as a case of reciprocal love of some form (together with mutual acknowledgment of this love), but as essentially involving significant interactions between the friends — as being in this sense a certain kind of relationship.

Nonetheless, questions can be raised about precisely how to distinguish romantic relationships, grounded in eros, from relationships of friendship, grounded in philia, insofar as each involves significant interactions between the involved parties that stem from a kind of reciprocal love that is responsive to merit. Clearly the two differ insofar as romantic love normally has a kind of sexual involvement that friendship lacks; yet, as Thomas (1989) asks, is that enough to explain the real differences between them? Badhwar (2003, 65–66) seems to think so, claiming that the sexual involvement enters into romantic love in part through a passion and yearning for physical union, whereas friendship involves instead a desire for a more psychological identification. Yet it is not clear exactly how to understand this: precisely what kind of "psychological identification" or intimacy is characteristic of friendship? (For further discussion, see Section 1.2.)

In philosophical discussions of friendship, it is common to follow Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics, Book VIII) in distinguishing three kinds of friendship: friendships of pleasure, of utility, and of virtue. Although it is a bit unclear how to understand these distinctions, the basic idea seems to be that pleasure, utility, and virtue are the reasons we have in these various kinds of relationships for loving our friend. That is, I may love my friend because of the pleasure I get out of her, or because of the ways in which she is useful to me, or because I find her to have a virtuous character. Given the involvement of love in each case, all three kinds of friendship seem to involve a concern for your friend for his sake and not for your own.

There is an apparent tension here between the idea that friendship essentially involves being concerned for your friend for his sake and the idea of pleasure and utility friendships: how can you be concerned for him for his sake if you do that only because of the pleasure or utility you get out of it? If you benefit your friend because, ultimately, of the benefits you receive, it would seem that you do not properly love your friend for his sake, and so your relationship is not fully one of friendship after all. So it looks like pleasure and utility friendships are at best deficient modes of friendship; by contrast, virtue friendships, because they are motivated by the excellences of your friend's character, are genuine, non-deficient friendships. For this reason, most contemporary accounts, by focusing their attention on the non-deficient forms of friendship, ignore pleasure and utility friendships."

Birdie Song

by The Wolfgang Press
July 25th, 2010

"It felt so good, you know."

Falling in love

by Joe Quirk
July 21st, 2010

"We Homo sapiens are very good at thinking clearly and surviving in a social context, until it's time to trade genes, at which point we go mad. The stupidity of our overwhelming passions comes from a deeper wisdom than anything the wise can control. The definition of passion: when you become animated by an ancient imperative that transcends your mortal life. Passion comes from before you were born, and it reaches out beyond your death. To a gene, your passions are more important than you. We celebrate that ecstatic agony in our art and gossip, because there is no state achievable by humans that is more self-transcendent."

Thanks to William Bennett!


July 18th, 2010

In this life-time you are being asked to release and surrender. Surrender is the opposite of giving up. It is freeing yourself from the desire to be in control, letting go of how you think things should be. Surrender is freedom. You are being invited to release yourself from the bondage of preconceived action, to let everything be all right as it is, so that you can live a more inspired life in the moment!

You are being asked to take action in the process of surrender and release. You are requested to die a symbolic death, to surrender your limiting beliefs. Symbolic death unveils the self by cutting away the outgrown parts of yourself that no longer serve you. In such death, ego structures fall away to reveal the garden of the true self. Look for new ways of being, new people, new ideas, and new directions that will move into the vacuum created through surrender and release. 

Holding on to past patterns and grievances only limits the possibilities. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Let go. Surrender whatever limits you. Face whatever you are resisting. In the experience of any loss, it is never too late to complete. Through your willingness to walk in the dark forest, insights and revelations will naturally emerge.

Accept the truth of your present situation. Through accepting what is, you are free to go forward. Change and growth become easier and more natural. 

Thanks to Nicola Richer!

The tip-of-the-tongue moment

Mental hiccup
June 27th, 2010

From ScienceBlogs: "…one of the most impressive talents of the human mind. We don't just know things - we know we know them, which leads to feelings of knowing. I've written about this before, but one of my favorite examples of such feelings is when a word is on the tip of the tongue. Perhaps it occurs when you run into an old acquaintance whose name you can't remember, although you know that it begins with the letter J. Or perhaps you struggle to recall the title of a recent movie, even though you can describe the plot in perfect detail.

What's interesting about this mental hiccup is that, even though the mind can't remember the information, it's convinced that it knows it. We have a vague feeling that, if we continue to search for the missing word, we'll be able to find it. (This is a universal experience: The vast majority of languages, from Afrikaans to Hindi to Arabic, even rely on tongue metaphors to describe the tip-of-the-tongue moment.) But here's the mystery: If we've forgotten a person's name, then why are we so convinced that we remember it? What does it mean to know something without being able to access it?

This is where feelings of knowing prove essential. The feeling is a signal that we can find the answer, if only we keep on thinking about the question. And these feelings aren't just relevant when we can't remember someone's name. Think, for instance, about the last time you raised your hand to speak in a group setting: Did you know exactly what you were going to say when you decided to open your mouth? Probably not. Instead, you had a funny hunch that you had something worthwhile to say, and so you began talking without knowing how the sentence would end. Likewise, those players on Jeopardy are able to ring the buzzer before they can actually articulate the answer. All they have is a feeling, and that feeling is enough.

These feelings of knowing illustrate the power of our emotions. The first thing to note is that these feelings are often extremely accurate."

The internet: Everything you ever need to know

by John Naughton
June 22nd, 2010

From Guardian: "In spite of all the answers the internet has given us, its full potential to transform our lives remains the great unknown. Here are the nine key steps to understanding the most powerful tool of our age – and where it's taking us."

Let's see what happens...

...and it is not a test.
June 21st, 2010

The space of refusal is also the space of imagination.

Colors / Black
June 13th, 2010

From Cabinet: "The contemporary philosopher Giorgio Agamben, following Aristotle, remarks that the fact that we see darkness means that our eyes have not only the potential to see, but also the potential not to see. (If we had only the potential to see, we would never have the experience of not-seeing.) This twofold potential, to do and not to do, is not only a feature of our sight, Agamben argues; it is the essence of our humanity: 'The greatness — and also the abyss — of human potentiality is that it is first of all potential not to act, potential for darkness.' Because we are capable of inaction, we know that we have the ability to act, and also the choice of whether to act or not. Black, the color of not seeing, not doing, is in that sense the color of freedom."

World's Top 50 Hotels

And the dream that I was chasing

Bodies are composed of an infinity of infinitely small parts
June 5th, 2010

From the New Shelton wet/dry: "we think we know everything through our mind, but (spinoza:) the human mind has no knowledge of the body.

there are no fewer things in the mind that exceed our consciousness than there are things in the body that exceed our knowledge. (deleuze)

4) other sets of small parts (others bodies) have an effect on me. they can modify or destroy the relation which characterises my body. like the cold water on my skin, the food that i eat, a bullet, etc.

5) there's another kind of relation between bodies. this time it is not about the effect of a body on another body, but about the agreement or disagreement of the relations between two bodies. it's about the composition of the relations between two bodies.
like the water and my body, when i swim.

6) for each kind of relation between bodies, there's a kind of knowledge. (...)

7) wondering what it's like when it gets interesting? look at the relations between people, same as the relations between water and bodies. the beauty of spinoza's mechanism."

What will I do next?

May 27th, 2010

From The School Of Life: "We like to think of our introspected motivations as predictive facts that will tell us what we will do. However, as Wilson  demonstrates, our inner reflections discover not facts but a story we tell to ourselves about ourselves. These stories tend to be rose-tinted. We see ourselves as more consistent, admirable and steadfast than we turn out to be. We forget contrary behaviour and previous weakness and focus on being better.
(...) Consequently, if we want to know what you will do next, it is often better to ask others than it is to ask yourself. Friends and family can know you better than you know yourself. Even strangers, who can see a situation more clearly than you, can make better predictions. Which also means that, despite our wish to be flies-on-the-wall as negotiations unfold, and our urge to see inside the minds of the protagonists, it turns out we may well know what our leaders will do next better than they do."

Well, now I want to dance.

From the last draft
May 24th, 2010

At that moment, a great oldie-but-goodie BLASTS from the jukebox.

MIA: I wanna dance.

VINCENT: I'm not much of a dancer.

MIA: Now I'm the one gettin' gyped. I do believe Marsellus told you to take me out and do whatever I wanted. Well, now I want to dance.

Vincent smiles and begins taking off his boots. Mia triumphantly casts hers off.  He takes her hand, escorting her to the dance floor. The two face each other for that brief moment before you begin to dance, than they both break into a devilish twist. Mia's version of the twist is that of a sexy cat. Vincent is pure Mr. Cool as he gets into a hip-swivelling rhythm that would make Mr. Checker proud.

The OTHER DANCERS on the floor are trying to do the same thing, but Vincent and Mia seem to be strangely shaking their asses in sync. The two definitely share a rhythm and share smiles as they SING ALONG with the last verse of the Golden Oldie.

(They had a hi-fi phono, boy, did they let it blast
Seven hundred little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz
But when the sun went down, the rapid tempo of the music fell
"C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you can never tell)

Black Afgano by Nasomatto

You Probably Think This Perfume Is About You
May 22nd, 2010

"Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be.
As a friend, as a friend, as an old enemy.
Take your time, hurry up, choice is yours, don't be late.
Take a rest, as a friend, as an old memory."

And here is the perfume: Black Afgano

Personal identity

"Nothing lasts. You can't count on anything but yourself." Dashiell Hammett
May 8th, 2010

From Wikipedia: "The question regarding personal identity has addressed the conditions under which a person at one time is the same person at another time, known as personal continuity. This sort of analysis of personal identity provides a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for the identity of the person over time. In the modern philosophy of mind, this concept of personal identity is sometimes referred to as the diachronic problem of personal identity. The synchronic problem is grounded in the question of what features or traits characterize a given person at one time."

The Creative Personality

10 antithetical traits often present in creative people
May 7th, 2010

From Psychology Today: "Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it's complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude."


"It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to." W. C. Fields
May 1st, 2010

From Wikipedia: "Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht) is a traditional religious holiday of pre-Christian origin, celebrated today by Christian as well as non-Christian communities, on April 30 or May 1 in large parts of Central and Northern Europe.
The current festival is, in most countries that celebrate it, named after Saint Walpurga, born in Devon about 710. Due to the coincidence of her holy day falling on the same day as the pagan holiday on which it was based, her name became associated with the celebrations. Walpurga was honoured in the same way that Vikings had celebrated spring and as they spread throughout Europe, the two dates became mixed together and created the Walpurgis Night celebration. Early Christianity had a policy of Christianising pagan festivals so it is perhaps no accident that St. Walpurga's day was set to May 1."

What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?

Low-fat vs. low-carb
April 29th, 2010

From Scientific American: "'If you reduce saturated fat and replace it with high glycemic-index carbohydrates, you may not only not get benefits — you might actually produce harm,' Ludwig argues. The next time you eat a piece of buttered toast, he says, consider that 'butter is actually the more healthful component.'"

From The New York Times: "After 20 years steeped in a low-fat paradigm, I find it hard to see the nutritional world any other way. I have learned that low-fat diets fail in clinical trials and in real life, and they certainly have failed in my life. I have read the papers suggesting that 20 years of low-fat recommendations have not managed to lower the incidence of heart disease in this country, and may have led instead to the steep increase in obesity and Type 2 diabetes. I have interviewed researchers whose computer models have calculated that cutting back on the saturated fats in my diet to the levels recommended by the American Heart Association would not add more than a few months to my life, if that. I have even lost considerable weight with relative ease by giving up carbohydrates on my test diet, and yet I can look down at my eggs and sausage and still imagine the imminent onset of heart disease and obesity, the latter assuredly to be caused by some bizarre rebound phenomena the likes of which science has not yet begun to describe. The fact that Atkins himself has had heart trouble recently does not ease my anxiety, despite his assurance that it is not diet-related."

1000 Things You Don't Know

About Women
April 27th, 2010

No. 732: We'll take nice forearms over six-pack abs any day.

Nifty necklace above: Balançoire (swing) from Calourette. 3,5 cm of varnished wood on an 80cm silver chain.

Gam zu letovah

Amor fati
April 24th, 2010

From Wikipedia: "Nachum of Gamzu was a Tanna of the 2nd generation (1st century). In the Talmud he is called Ish Gam Zu (the man of gam zu), and this name is explained as referring to Nahum's motto: on every occasion, no matter how unpleasant the circumstance, he exclaimed gam zu letovah (this, too, will be for the best)."

Usually playing at 45 rpm


Acceptance and mindfulness
April 18th, 2010

From Wikipedia: "ACT commonly employs six core principles to help clients develop psychological flexibility:
1. Cognitive defusion: Learning to perceive thoughts, images, emotions, and memories as what they are, not what they appear to be.
2. Acceptance: Allowing them to come and go without struggling with them.
3. Contact with the present moment: Awareness of the here and now, experienced with openness, interest, and receptiveness.
4. Observing the self: Accessing a transcendent sense of self, a continuity of consciousness which is changing.
5. Values: Discovering what is most important to one's true self.
6. Committed action: Setting goals according to values and carrying them out responsibly."

That the wrong and the right are within your mind

Funkadelic "Into You" (1978)
April 17th, 2010

I can't get into the neutron bomb
I can't get into something that will do me some harm
I can't get into a drug addict principle
I can't get into something that would close the door
If it's right, it's all right for you now
If it's right, it's all right for me now, yo-ho
Any night you'll be uptight until you find
That the wrong and the right are within your mind

Into you now
Into you, my people

Into you now
Imagine me
Into you now
Into you
Into you now
My heart
Into you, my people

I can't get into the poisoned land
I can't get into something I don't understand
I can't into a bad romance
I can't get into a love that ends in a chance
If it's right, it's all right with you now
If it's right, it's all right for me now, yo-ho
Any night you'll be uptight until you find
That the wrong and the right are within your mind

Into you now
Into you, my people
And you into me 

The Long and Winding Road

Oldies in the morning
March 14th, 2010

Chestnut brown canary
Ruby throated sparrow
Sing a song don't be long
Thrill me to the marrow
Voices of the angels ring around the moonlight
Asking me, said she so free
How can you catch the sparrow?

(from Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Stephen Stills)


Ten Timeless Influencers
March 11, 2010

From Psyblog: "Conformity is such a strong influence in society that it's impossible to understand human behaviour without it. Psychological experiments show that people will deny the evidence of their own eyes in order to conform with other people. (...)
Understanding when we conform has all kinds of practical real-world benefits, depending on your aims: it can help you understand your own behaviour as well as understand how others will behave under a variety of different situational pressures. Everyone should be aware of these factors and how they affect the most important areas of their social life."

These are the influencers: Group size, Dissent, Are they one of us?, Your mood, Need for structure, Social approval, Culture, Authority, Social norms and Reciprocation.

What is nostalgia good for?

Natural anti-depressant
March 10th, 2010

From BBC News: "Once nostalgia was considered a sickness - the word derives from the Greek nostos (return) and algos (pain), suggesting suffering due to a desire to return to a place of origin. (...)
Studies by Mr Routledge, along with colleagues at the University of Southampton, have found that remembering past times improves mood, increases self-esteem, strengthens social bonds and imbues life with meaning. (...)
Nostalgia is usually involuntary and triggered by negative feelings - most commonly loneliness - against which it acts as a sort of natural anti-depressant by countering those feelings."

Also, don't hesitate to see Nostalghia (1983) directed by Andrei Tarkovsky - one of my favorite directors of all time.

the New Shelton wet/dry

What Matter Who's Speaking?
March 7th, 2010

the New Shelton wet/dry blog by JC from Brooklyn, New York, is simply brilliant. I am very grateful for its deepness, intelligence and obscurity.

Found the illustration on Sofía Stefanich's wonderful Tumblr site.

Here It Goes Again

Directed by James Frost, OK Go and Syyn Labs
March 5th, 2010

From Dangerous Minds: "Let's face it, with all of the many, many entertainment choices we have facing us, every minute of every single day, when it comes to the matter of what we choose to give our precious attention to, music videos tend to rank pretty low on the totem pole. There's probably a pretty compelling reason MTV is no longer calling itself a music channel. So '80s, isn't it? A three-minute music video? Who has the time?

So when you hear about some cool new music video — maybe your tweeps told you about it — it had, well, better be good. Chicago-based indie rockers OK Go know this. Their 2006 video, Here It Goes Again, featuring the group doing a synchronized dance routine on treadmills, has been viewed by about 50 million people, so the follow-up had, well, better be good too.

Trust me, it's great. I could describe for you the Rube Goldberg-inspired centerpiece of the new This Too Shall Pass video, but since their record company finally relented and allowed the piece to be embedded (I mean, what was that all about?), you can simply press play and see for yourself.

Engineered with help from CalTech and MIT, and built by Syyn Labs, the video — and its kinetic sculpture centerpiece — is nothing short of astonishing. Like its predecessor, it's bound to snag all kinds of kudos and awards."

Also, don't hesitate to review Fischli & Weiss' Der Lauf der Dinge.

Crystal World and Missed Connections

or (Radical) Constructivism
February 25th, 2010

From Wikipedia: "Constructivism criticizes objectivism, which embraces the belief that a human can come to know external reality (the reality that exists beyond one's own mind). Constructivism holds the opposite view, that the only reality we can know is that which is represented by human thought (assuming a disbelief or lack of faith in a superhuman God). Reality is independent of human thought, but meaning or knowledge is always a human construction. (...)
Constructivism proposes new definitions for knowledge and truth that forms a new paradigm, based on inter-subjectivity instead of the classical objectivity and viability instead of truth. The constructivist point of view is pragmatic as Vico said: 'the truth is to have made it'. (...)

'And, irrespective of what one might assume, in the life of a science, problems do not arise by themselves. It is precisely this that marks out a problem as being of the true scientific spirit: all knowledge is in response to a question. If there were no question, there would be no scientific knowledge. Nothing proceeds from itself. Nothing is given. All is constructed.' (Gaston Bachelard, La formation de l'esprit scientifique, 1934)

'My hand feels touched as well as it touches; that's reality, and nothing more.' (Paul Valéry)"

Also check out this Radical Constructivism and Daily Life video by Ernst von Glasersfeld.


Nothing at all
February 18th, 2010

From Wikipedia: "The director and producer Alfred Hitchcock popularized both the term MacGuffin and the technique. (...)
A MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin) is 'a plot element that catches the viewers' attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction.'
Sometimes, the specific nature of the MacGuffin is not important to the plot such that anything that serves as a motivation serves its purpose. The MacGuffin can sometimes be ambiguous, completely undefined, generic or left open to interpretation."

From The Colombus Dispatch: "The best way to spot a true MacGuffin is to substitute anything else for it and ask whether the movie would change. If the microfilm in North by Northwest were papers or jewels or a safe-deposit box key, would the rest of the movie change? Not at all.
While the MacGuffin propels the story, it shouldn't be mistaken for an essential plot device. The shark in Jaws isn't a MacGuffin but a key character. It has to be a shark, or the story can't be told. (...)
As Hitchcock said of the microfilm in North by Northwest: 'Here, you see, the MacGuffin has been boiled down to its purest expression: nothing at all!'"

After laughter

Valentine's Day
February 14th, 2010

"Ada's letters breathed, writhed, lived; Van's Letters from Terra, 'a philosophical novel,' showed no sign of life whatsoever."
"Finito! It was now the forming of soft black pits (yamï, yamishchi) in her mind, between the dimming sculptures of thought and recollection, that tormented her phenomenally; mental panic and physical pain joined black-ruby hands, one making her pray for sanity, the other, plead for death."
(from "Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle" by Vladimir Nabokov)

If you are interested in my favourite book, the one above all others, check out this fantastic online resource.

(Painting by Eric Fischl)

These Are The Moments

by Matthew Hoffman (2009)
February 11th, 2010

The Glass House Conversations

at the Philip Johnson Glass House
February 7th, 2010

From Design Observer: "Since it reopened last year, the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, has been the venue of a series of intimate conversations. They've been moderated by, among others, Roger Mandle, Laurie Beckelman, Maurice Cox, and John Maeda; the themes have included Breaking the Rules, Transparency, and Design and Civic Leadership."


Keep those tears hid out of sight, let it loose, let it all come down.
January 29th, 2010

to disengage
to loose
to release
to relinquish
to unclasp
to unhand
to lay so. to rest
to let go
to let loose
to let sth. loose
to loose one's hold on sth.
to lose one's hold of
to release a load

Radical acceptance

A practice of mindfulness
January 21st, 2010

Jim Gagné: "The practice of mindfulness is growing in popularity among psychotherapists as a means to deal with painful emotion. It consists of deliberately taking the time to notice and acknowledge whatever you're thinking and feeling. You don't do anything with thoughts or feelings; you simply notice them. When you react emotionally, notice that. If you're upset, notice that. Ditto if you're happy or content. When you judge or evaluate your experience, notice that. Notice whatever. (...)
I have a mental image of leaning back in a chair, feet propped up on the desk, munching popcorn as I observe my experience. Kind of like watching a movie. This is a particularly useful image when your experience is upsetting. Maybe it's a horror movie, or a suspense drama!
Whenever you can just hang out with your experience, and with whatever reactions you have to it, the sting of painful memories begins to dissipate. Your judgments and evaluations are just thoughts; actually they aren't any more real than anything else. You don't always have to be right. All those rules you learned from your parents are just that, rules. You begin to appreciate the humor in your self-righteousness. You stop struggling and begin to relax. You no longer feel overwhelmed or pursued. You're alert and present in the moment, not spaced out or numb.
When a particular emotion or experience is particularly troubling, you can address it directly, with an even more powerful technique than mindfulness: what I'm calling radical acceptance. If mindfulness is watching the monster chase you in the dream, radical acceptance is hugging the monster and inviting it for tea. (...)
Strong emotion brings all sorts of cognitive distortions you can learn to recognize and not take seriously.
Radical acceptance is choosing to accept the experience you are having this moment, no matter what. You accept without believing them whatever judgments and evaluations come to mind. Like it, hate it, fear it, whatever happens, you accept it."

F for Fake

by Orson Welles (1915-1985)
January 11th, 2009

From bright lights: "When we get to a late film in Welles' career, the documentary F for Fake (1976), he formulates his most explicit statement about contemporary reality, leaving little room for greatness, let alone tragedy. And if F for Fake seems a superficial film, we will then have experienced the first lesson of postmodernism: playfulness, conscious illusions, and an undisguised reflexiveness about making movies. Put another way, what is seen in the film that seems real is not as real as it appears — but most especially we can't trust the filmmaker Welles himself, he will lie to us and deceive us, if only to get at the heart of the movie's main contention: you cannot trust anyone, especially anyone who asserts his or her authority without any basis or proof." ("F for Fake, The Ultimate Mirror of Orson Welles, In which Welles deflates expectations of greatness — and transcends them" by Robert Castle).
(Thanks to Nina Juric!)

End of 2009

Ten points - Dix point - Zehn Punkte
December 31st, 2009

Coffee In 2009 I celebrated my addiction to coffee. Had the best in Milan, right across from the hotel where I stayed for a week while teaching at NABA. The lady who made it was in her 80s. 7am in the morning, the air clean and the heat still asleep.
Film Keep The River On Your Right is a fascinating movie because its subject is so fascinating. Calm, pleasant, self-deprecating, Schneebaum manages to draw you in to his obsessions and joys.
Insight The results of my Five Factor Model or FFM test. In contemporary psychology, the "Big Five" factors of personality are five broad domains or dimensions of personality which have been scientifically discovered to define human personality at the highest level of organization. Who beats my 97% openness?
Occupation One song, repeat mode, glue, scissors, three scraps of paper.
Quote "When the shadow of your house would be your home, the moment of arrival would determine where home is" by Tomas Schats.
Role model for coming of age Maryanne Amacher (1938-2009) 
Song Murphy's Law, sure out to get you!
Talk "Joseph Campbell - Transformations of Myth Through Time" consists of 14 hour-long programs selected from over 50 hours of Campbell lectures and is introduced by "THE HERO'S JOURNEY," an award-winning biographical film.
TV series Big Love, a fair portrayal of polygamy without being judgmental. The series' theme song is God Only Knows by The Beach Boys.
Website I check out This isn't happiness nearly every day and it nevver fails to surprise, irritate and delight me.

So, here we are... And what is next?

Königin der Nacht

Minnie Riperton performs "Loving You" on Soul Train
December 24th, 2009

Lovin' you I see your soul come shinin' through.

Meant to be loved...

...not to be understood.
December 17th, 2009

Via This isn't Happiness.


songs from the past
December 15th, 2009

Every time I think of you
I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue
It's no problem of mine
But it's a problem I find
Living a life that I can't leave behind
But there's no sense in telling me
The wisdom of the fool won't set you free
But that's the way that it goes
And it's what nobody knows
well every day my confusion grows

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I'm waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can't say

I feel fine and I feel good
I'm feeling like I never should
Whenever I get this way
I just don't know what to say
Why can't we be ourselves like we were yesterday
I'm not sure what this could mean
I don't think you're what you seem
I do admit to myself
That if I hurt someone else
Then I'll never see just what we're meant to be

Time management

The fixed-schedule productivity
November 23rd, 2009

Just found this helpful ideas via boing boing on how you get meaningful things done using "fixed-schedule productivity". From Cal Newport's, who is a post-doc at MIT, blog Study hacks:

"The system work as follows:
1. Choose a schedule of work hours that you think provides the ideal balance of effort and relaxation.
2. Do whatever it takes to avoid violating this schedule.

This sounds simple. But think about it for a moment. Satisfying rule 2 is not easy. If you took your current projects, obligations, and work habits, you'd probably fall well short of satisfying your ideal work schedule. Here's a simple truth: to stick to your ideal schedule will require some drastic actions. For example, you may have to:
> Dramatically cut back on the number of projects you are working on.
> Ruthlessly cull inefficient habits from your daily schedule.
> Risk mildly annoying or upsetting some people in exchange for large gains in time freedom.
> Stop procrastinating.
In the abstract, these all seem like hard things to do. But when you have the focus of a specific goal — 'I do not want to work past 5 on week days!' — you'd be surprised by how much easier it becomes deploy these strategies in your daily life."

Green flash

or Le Rayon vert by Éric Rohmer
November 17th, 2009

From Astronomy Picture of the Day: "Many think it is just a myth. Others think it is true but its cause isn't known. Adventurers pride themselves on having seen it. It's a green flash from the Sun. The truth is the green flash does exist and its cause is well understood. Just as the setting Sun disappears completely from view, a last glimmer appears startlingly green. The effect is typically visible only from locations with a low, distant horizon, and lasts just a few seconds. A green flash is also visible for a rising Sun, but takes better timing to spot. A dramatic green flash was caught in the above photograph in 1992 from Finland. The Sun itself does not turn partly green, the effect is caused by layers of the Earth's atmosphere acting like a prism."

From Film - Think: "According to Jules Verne, those lucky enough to see this happen will also for that moment be granted supernatural clarity into their own hearts and the hearts of those around them. Delphine realizes that this sort of clarity is exactly what she has been looking for. She needs just a glimmer of certainty about herself and a companion, just one moment in which she can safely align herself with something other than loneliness. And eventually it happens. She meets a man in the Biarritz train station, and on an uncharacteristic whim, Delphine joins him on the next train out of town. They stand together facing the sea at sunset. They wait as the sun slowly drops towards the distant water. We wait with them. And then it happens.
Rohmer reportedly waited quite a long time until he could actually catch the green ray on film. If he couldn’t actually find the atmospheric conditions at the right time with his camera rolling, then the film wouldn’t have worked. Or else the film would have ended with Delphine never finding that magical moment that Rohmer had so studiously prepared for her. But we wait there with Delphine and her companion, and the sun flashes brilliantly green but for a moment before it vanishes below the curvature of the earth."

"The Uniqueness of Humans"

Robert Sapolsky's outstanding Stanford lecture
November 11th, 2009

Here is another inspiring talk by this fantastic storyteller. Especially enjoyed the part on dopamine... (around 26'30").
From BoingBoing: "Stanford primatologist and anthropologist Robert Sapolsky scores big with this grad lecture on The Uniqueness of Humans, a humbling, inspiring and sweet 30 minutes on what it is about humans that makes us unique from our animal cousins, and how many of the seemingly unique features of humanity can be found elsewhere."

Information is beautiful

Weekly visualisation
November 8th, 2009

David McCandless is doing a regular weekly visualisation for the excellent Guardian Datablog, the front-end for an amazing library of statistics and data, lovingly hand-gathered by The Guardian.
Also check out his scrapbook on Flickr.
(Thanks to Claudio Becker-Foss!)

Magic mushrooms

Gazebo: I Like Chopin
November 4th, 2009

Tell me where's my way
Imagine your face
In a sunshine reflection
A vision of blue skies
Forever distractions

(Illustration by Gizem Vural)

Got it all together, don't you, baby

Murphy's Law, sure out to get you
October 25th, 2009

I need a reminder: Today is... Bangle by Hong Kong designer Yellowgoat and available at esty

Free Yet Determined and Constrained

Fantastic Gifford Lectures by Michael Gazzaniga
October 22nd, 2009

From The University of Edinburgh's College of Humanities and Social Science: "The fourth in a series of Gifford Lectures by Professor Michael Gazzaniga. Recorded 19 October, 2009 at the Playfair Library Hall, the University of Edinburgh.
So what does free will mean? It has become a catch-all term and means several things.
In many ways the concept is fundamental to human thought and societal institutions.
For example, our system of justice is built on the idea that we are all practical reasoners, working in a normal brain environment to produce coherent and ethical behaviours.
We are held to be personally responsible for those decisions. Questioning the core concept, free will, necessitates rethinking many cherished notions of human institutions."
Watch the fourth lecture here.
(Thanks to Mary DeBlois!)


by Sylvester (1979)
October 18th, 2009

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Listen here


♥ ♥ ♥
October 13th, 2009

From Wikipedia:
1. syād-asti – "in some ways it is"
2. syād-nāsti - "in some ways it is not"
3. syād-asti-nāsti - "in some ways it is and it is not"
4. syād-asti-avaktavyaḥ - "in some ways it is and it is indescribable"
5. syād-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ - "in some ways it is not and it is indescribable"
6. syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ - "in some ways it is, it is not and it is indescribable"
7. syād-avaktavyaḥ - "in some ways it is indescribable"

From Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940): "The drink made past happy things contemporary with the present, as if they were still going on, contemporary even with the future as if they were about to happen again."
(Archival pigment print by Clifton Burt)

One nagging thing...

...you still don't understand about yourself
October 6th, 2009

From British Psychological Society's Research Digest: "The Digest editor has invited some of the world's leading psychologists to look inwards and share, in 150 words, one nagging thing they still don't understand about themselves. Their responses are by turns candid, witty and thought-provoking. Here's what they had to say"


In case you have been wondering too
September 30th, 2009

From BBC: "...marketing psychologist, Paul Buckley, of the Cardiff School of Management, said there was no evidence that subliminal messages work in the real world: 'From a practical point of view this probably doesn't reflect what would happen in real life. Certainly lots of countries around the world have legislation to ban subliminal messages being used on television and nobody has yet been able to point to any instance where a subliminal message has worked.'" (via boingboing)

The Global Brain (1982)

by Peter Russell
September 29th, 2009

"A human being is a part of the whole called by us 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest. - A kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." (Albert Einstein)
Despite the weird soundtrack watch the movie here or read the book.

Train, track, tree

It's yesterday once more.
September 27th, 2009

Always wondered why I enjoy train rides so much. Have been taken to a very special location last night: Kind of a secret train museum in Cologne. Never heard of it before. People were dancing between those old industrial trains and it was so dark that I could hardly recognize any of the faces. Later, walking back to the car in the middle of night on some old tracks outside of the city I recognized that those tracks are the answer. Trains do never get lost. And sometimes they even pass adorable little fir trees.


Big five
September 21st, 2009

Had a wonderful day co-teaching 25 students with Ralf Neubauer at Basel's prestigious Hyperwerk. On this first day of the workshop we looked at various kinds of self-portraits and on Friday the students will present their final considerations in an exhibition.
Here is my contribution seen through the lens of the Big Five personality traits:
Openness - appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience: 97%
Conscientiousness - a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement; planned rather than spontaneous behavior: 91%
Extraversion - energy, positive emotions, urgency, and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others: 67%
Agreeableness - a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others: 16%
Neuroticism - a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability; sometimes called emotional instability: 21%

An angel being blown backwards into the future

Happiness Is a Warm Gun
September 18th, 2009

From Wikipedia: "One of the most salient musical features of the song is its frequent shifts in time signature. Beginning in 4/4 time, the song has one measure of 6/4 time for the line "She's well acquainted..." before changing back to 4/4 time for the next line ("The man in the crowd..."). It then uses a measure of 5/4 followed by a measure of 4/4 for the line "a soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust". The subsequent guitar solo features a measure of 9/8 followed by two measures of 12/8. This pattern is repeated in the "I need a fix..." section. This gives way to alternating 9/8 and 10/8 measures in the "Mother Superior..." section before returning to 4/4 for the doo-wop style ending. The "When I hold you..." section slows down dramatically and employs one of the few examples of polyrythm in the Beatles, where the drums play triplets while the rest of the instruments and background vocals use a duple rhythm."

On CVs

by Mike Radcliffe
August 19th, 2009

From Eye blog: "First of all, view your initial contact as the opportunity to get a meeting, nothing else, just a meeting. Once you have the meeting then it's your responsibility to win over your interviewer with your wit, charm and amazing portfolio. But before you get the meeting, I would create the simplest and most effective CV to send out, and a small work presentation to send out with it; don't mess up before you've even got in there. Personally, I think CVs are an exercise in cutting the information back to the bare minimum, especially if you are a graphic designer. . (...) All we need to know is where you've been, what you've done and if there was anything significant that happened along the way to make you employable! It's your job as a designer to make information clear, accessible and enjoyable to read."

Big Love

Television drama and further
August 3rd, 2009

Had an intense weekend with Big Love - amongst other things. Left me stunning. What an amazing script or is just my perspective on the story - and some wild associations?
From Wikipedia: "The show was co-created by Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer, who also serve as executive producers. Olsen and Scheffer spent almost three years researching the premise of the show, with the intent of creating a fair portrayal of polygamy in America without being judgmental. The series' theme song is "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys; the musical score for the series is composed by David Byrne."


which means "to stroll"
July 27th, 2009

From Wikipedia: "There is no English equivalent for the French word flâneur. Cassell's dictionary defines flâneur as a stroller, saunterer, drifter but none of these terms seems quite accurate. There is no English equivalent for the term, just as there is no Anglo-Saxon counterpart of that essentially Gallic individual, the deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, who, being French and therefore frugal, wastes nothing, including his time which he spends with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of his city. (Cornelia Otis Skinner, Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, 1962, Houghton Mifflin, New York)" 

This isn't happiness

To be combined
July 13th, 2009

Awesome conglomeration of pictures found on the web. I go there nearly every day and it nevver fails to surprise me...
And if you are looking for quotes to go along with or reinterpret those images, read Tom Stafford's challenging blog idiolect.
For the image above I chose: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." by Samuel Beckett.

Form and function should be one

Article In Defense of Eye Candy
June 11th, 2009

From A List Apart: "In the early 1900s, form follows function became the mantra of modern architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright changed this phrase to 'form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union,' using nature as the best example of this integration. The more we learn about people, and how our brains process information, the more we learn the truth of that phrase: form and function aren't separate items. If we believe that style somehow exists independent of functionality, that we can treat aesthetics and function as two separate pieces, then we ignore the evidence that beauty is much more than decoration. Our brains can't help but agree." (Thanks to Roland Sigmond!)

The schizotypal personality

A Stanford lecture
June 6th, 2009

From boingboing.com: "Stanford's Robert Sapolsky, one of the most interesting anthropologists I've heard lecture, gives us 90 minutes on the evolutionary basis for literal religious belief, 'metamagical thinking', schizotypal personality and so on, explaining how evolutionarily, the mild schizophrenic expression we called 'schizotypal personality' have enjoyed increased reproductive opportunities."

HOWTO lecture to students

Note to self
May 11th, 2009

From Boring Within or Simply Boring? by Rob Weir: "A time-tested way of engaging students is using a hook. Unveil a teaser, pose a question, tell a story, be provocative, invite brief brainstorming... any adult equivalent of 'Once upon a time ....' Frontloading wonderment helps keep an audience. (...) 
Once hooked, proceed to the body. Illustrate the thesis, don't hammer it into submission. In days past I crammed as much detail as I could into lectures, which often led to confusion (and sore note-taking wrists). It's better to say a lot about a little than a little about a lot. Delving into a few examples makes for a more cohesive narrative. Make sure that everything in your lecture relates to the objectives and isn't just shoehorned in for the sake of being 'comprehensive.' The real skill in lecturing is how well you assemble and organize material, not how arcane, esoteric, or exhaustive it is." (via boingboing.net)

Record Cover Zen

Objet petit a

The object of desire which we seek in the other
May 3rd, 2009

From Wikipedia: "In the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, objet petit a (object little-a) stands for the unattainable object of desire. It is sometimes called the object cause of desire. Lacan always insisted for it to remain untranslated 'thus acquiring the status of an algebraic sign.' (Écrits).
In 1957, in his Seminar Les formations de l'inconscient, Lacan introduces the concept of objet petit a as the imaginary part-object (see Melanie Klein), an element which is imagined as separable from the rest of the body. In the Seminar Le transfert (1960-1961) he articulates objet a with the term agalma (Greek, an ornament). Just as the agalma is a precious object hidden in a worthless box, so objet petit a is the object of desire which we seek in the other. (...)
Slavoj Žižek explains this objet petit a in relation to Alfred Hitchcock's MacGuffin: '[The] MacGuffin is objet petit a pure and simple: the lack, the remainder of the real that sets in motion the symbolic movement of interpretation, a hole at the center of the symbolic order, the mere appearance of some secret to be explained, interpreted, etc.' (Love thy symptom as thyself)."

the Graveyard.

by Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn
April 4th, 2009

From their website: "The Graveyard is a very short computer game. You play an old lady who visits a graveyard. You walk around, sit on a bench and listen to a song. It's more like an explorable painting than an actual game. An experiment with realtime poetry, with storytelling without words. Buying the full version of The Graveyard adds only one feature, the possibility of death. The full version of the game is exactly the same as the trial, except, every time you play she may die."
Sit on the bench and listen carefully to the beautifully strange lyrics!

Illusion of identity

Note to self
March 28th, 2009

From William Bennett's blog: "I'm not a nothing thing and neither are you, and I want you and not some thing you have, people do things with me and not to me, any thing is possible and crossing the barriers in between is always exciting."

"My Facebook, My Self"

by Jessica Helfand
March 13th, 2009

Design Observer has this interesting discussion about Facebook going on - in response to Jessica Helfand's article. Make sure you read the comments. As one puts it: "Because, sure, there will always be masking of one sort or strength or another. But Facebook is the beginning of the erosion of the necessity for constant, straitlaced posturing ~ it's a major breach in the armor of hidden hypocrisy. Oh, how society trembled when James Joyce unleashed his Molly Bloom! Oh, how the willful deniers of self once railed against the truthful depictions of ~ gasp! ~ How People Actually Are! And that, in myriad iterations, just in the abstract world of text."
For deeper thoughts on the subject read "The impersonal album: chronicling life in the digital age" by J. MacNeill Miller.

The Periodic Table of Typefaces

Another view on the 100 best fonts
March 11th, 2009

From the Behance site: "As with traditional periodic tables, this table presents the subject matter grouped categorically. The Table of Typefaces groups by families and classes of typefaces: sans-serif, serif, script, blackletter, glyphic, display, grotesque, realist, didone, garalde, geometric, humanist, slab-serif and mixed. (...) The final overall ranking was achieved depending on how many lists the particular typeface was presented on and it's ranking on the lists..." (via Design Observer)

The Century of the Self

by Adam Curtis
February 27th, 2009

Been watching this excellent BBC documentary with the students of the Motion Design program at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg yesterday. From Wikipedia: "Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, changed the perception of the human mind and its workings profoundly. His influence on the 20th century is widely regarded as massive. The documentary describes the impact of Freud's theories on the perception of the human mind, and the ways public relations agencies and politicians have used this during the last 100 years for their engineering of consent. (...) The Century of the Self asks deeper questions about the roots and methods of modern consumerism, representative democracy and its implications. It also questions the modern way we see ourselves, the attitude to fashion and superficiality."

Credit Where Credits Are Due

by Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler
February 23rd, 2009

From New York Times: "There's an Oscar for pretty much every aspect of filmmaking, except one: the title sequences. Titles, though, have always played a significant part in motion pictures. They may have started out as simple black-and-white cards. But in the days before sound, they already did more than identify key players: they communicated dialogue and advanced plot. And as filmmaking evolved, so did title design. Titles have become wonderful bridges from reality into the cinematic world and back out again. At their very best, they are themselves innovative, emotional experiences, microcosms of their movies."
Until April 19th the Berlin KW host an extensive exhibition on the subject. Read the review (German) in art magazine.

Gibbon song vocalisations

February 11th, 2009

From Thomas Geissmann's Gibbon Research Lab: "All species of gibbons are known to produce elaborate, species-specific and sex-specific patterns of vocalisation often referred to as songs. Songs are loud and complex and are mainly uttered at specifically established times of day. In most species, mated pairs may characteristically combine their songs in a relatively rigid pattern to produce coordinated duet songs. Gibbon song vocalisations are typically of pure tone, with the energy concentrated in the fundamental frequency. Depending on species, the fundamental frequency of song vocalisations ranges between 0.2 and 5 kHz." Go to the sound gallery and listen!

Need inspiration?

February 6th, 2009

"Dropular is a media bookmarking service loosely based on the idea of a droplet contributing to a pool, filling it ever-so slightly one by one. This amazing tool lets you discover, remember and share images, videos and links - all in one place." Dropular is in it's early beta, but already worth checking out. Thanks to Hans C. Schultheiss!

The Journal of Urban Typography

Another archive
February 3rd, 2009

The Journal of Urban Typography (TJOUT) is a wonderful documentation and study of signs, word fragments, and typography created with utilitarian intent in urban environments. (via Design Observer)


Note to self
January 13th, 2009

William Bennett: "My own definition is a relatively simple one, yet within it there is incredible potential for creativity and exploration. It's the realisation (or actualisation if you prefer) of something you used to think was utterly impossible and unachievable. That's it.
Doesn't sound like much, except the more you begin to contemplate those words the more you begin to come to terms with how very much that truly encompasses. How many pleasures have you never experienced because you thought you never would? And indeed, how much of it can or could you stand? What in fact are your limitations?
Wherever you choose to set that is the boundary between the you and magic. And that's where I want to go."

10 simple ways...

...to save yourself from messing up your life
January 11th, 2009

"1. Stop taking so much notice of how you feel.
2. Let go of worrying. It often makes things worse.
3. Ease up on the internal life commentary.
4. Take no notice of your inner critic.
5. Give up on feeling guilty.
6. Stop being concerned what the rest of the world says about you.
7. Stop keeping score.
8. Don't be concerned that your life and career aren't working out the way you planned.
9. Don't let others use you to avoid being responsible for their own decisions.
10. Don't worry about about your personality."
See the full text by Adrian Savage.

Love typography?

January 8th, 2009

i LOVE TYPOGRAPHY, a stimulating blog and amazing archive, selected their favourite Typefaces of 2008.

Opening title 2009

Psychotronic Titles 
January 2nd, 2009

"Mr. Bali Hai has compiled a fair-sized gallery of B-movie opening titles. I've seen a few of these movies, and it's probably safe to say that the titles are the best parts." (Mark Frauenfelder on boingboing.net)

End of 2008

Ten things - because it is a tradition I affirm.
December 31st, 2008

Book Tough topic, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Austerlitz - for the concept.
City Cologne, indeed.
Concert DAF - it was such an energetic flashback.
Film Death Proof - by one of those men who understand women. And for everybody who disagrees, check out William Bennett's inspiring movie reviews.
Perfume Patchouli Patch, recommended by the fabulous blog of Theresa Duncan - RIP.
Present Silver necklace - yes, we do like to see feelings materialize.
Song O Superman - for all coincidences, which sometimes made me wonder if they were really coincidences and then pushed me to realize that, yes, they are just coincidences. Starting to enjoy it!
Talk Isabel Allende on Tales of passion.
Unsorted The six kilometres along the canal in rain, fog, snow, sun, wind, heat, light, dark and any other fucking weather condition, over and over again - thanks for keeping me company, Eva!
Website "UbuWeb was founded in November of 1996, initially as a repository for visual, concrete and, later, sound poetry. Over the years, UbuWeb has embraced all forms of the avant-garde and beyond." A goldmine. 

So, here we are... And what is next?

"The solution is in the problem"

from Formulas for Now by Hans Ulrich Obrist
December 27th, 2008

"For centuries the formula has been one of the building blocks of human knowledge. In mathematics and science, formulas express information symbolically - to solve a problem, to describe an observable phenomenon, or to postulate a theory. More generally, a formula can be a plan of action; a statement or declaration; a definition or rule; or a list of ingredients or recipe to achieve a desired outcome. For all the contributors to this unique volume - including eminent minds from the fields of art, science, mathematics, performance, architecture, design, literature, and sociology - the formula is a fruitful way of investigating the nature of human existence. Selected especially for the book, more than one hundred invited participants have produced or chosen their own personal formulas to express the realities of contemporary life and to offer a means of negotiating a path through it." (from amazon.com)
The quote I consider the most inspiring is by Peter Saville.

Chris Montez

The more I see you
December 24th, 2008

Video from 1966 with wonderful music (via my daily treat: boingboing.net). Happy holidays!

Trust your eyes?

The Ouchi Illusion
December 19th, 2008

"This illusion is by op artist Hajime Ouchi. Move your head back and forth as you let your eyes wander around the image and notice how the circle and its background appear to shift independently of one another. Vision scientist Lothar Spillmann at the University of Freiburg in Germany stumbled upon the illusion while browsing Ouchi's book on Japanese Optical and Geometrical Art. Spillmann then introduced the Ouchi illusion to the vision sciences community, where it has enjoyed immense popularity." (from Scientific American)
Also, check out the 80 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena site by Michael Bach at the Freiburg University in Germany: "These pages demonstrate visual phenomena, and optical or visual illusions. The latter is more appropriate, because most effects have their basis in the visual pathway, not in the optics of the eye."

Until the end of the world

Scientists extract images directly from brain
December 12th, 2008

Most of the people I know disagree with me on this one. For me Wim WendersBis ans Ende der Welt (Until the end of the world) was a discovery that shook my feelings and perception fundamentally - back in 1991. I still listen to the soundtrack and watch the movie once in a while.
And today I found this quote on Pink Tentacle: "Researchers from Japan's ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have developed new brain analysis technology that can reconstruct the images inside a person's mind and display them on a computer monitor, it was announced on December 11. According to the researchers, further development of the technology may soon make it possible to view other people's dreams while they sleep." This is exactly what the film was about. What an accuracy of forecast. Imagine watching the dreams of your next of kin. 

Happiness is infectious

Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network
December 7th, 2008

Quote from the British Medical Association: "People's happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon, say James H Fowler and Nicholas A Christakis in a longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study."

The three best album covers?

A workshop
December 5th, 2008

What would be your three favorite cover art works of all times? Wondering about mine and the criteria I am applying. Christian Schäfer and I have been considering a three-days-workshop on visualizing music into the square format of a vinyl cover for some time now. It would involve the students and us presenting and defending those three. Will the one above make it on that list?

Matricaria recutita

My favorite flower
December 3rd, 2008

They also call Camomile plant doctor... and there are so many - we can play the prophecy game over and over and over. Right now, I just want to be sleeping in the middle of a friendly Camomile field.

100 best fonts

by FontShop
December 2nd, 2008

Well, students keep asking. For starters and unfortunately only in German: Here are the 100 best fonts. Thanks Fabian!

Casa Malaparte

in Le Mépris
December 1st, 2008

"Death is no conclusion", says Fritz Lang in Godard's Le Mépris - pan shot - slowly - the strings, the orchestra: swelling - and there it is - at 01h19 - for the first time we can see it, although it had been talked about all the time: Malaparte's villa on Capri. What a monster. How brutal and insistent.
This spring I read The Skin by Curzio Malaparte and tried to see as many pictures of the building as I could find. And only now the time came to see this disturbing masterpiece from 1963 starring breathtaking Brigitte Bardot.
As one review on imdb.com puts it: "One of the great masterpieces of the 20th century, a supreme synthesis of form, content and performance. Arguably the most beautiful too, with its found locations, sets, colour, lighting, music, decor and costume. The straightforward elegance of Godard's shooting masks a story of great complexity and formal rupture, but underneath the philosophy, semiotics and allusion is a portrait of marriage and its decline. The tension between icy irony and resigned emotion results in Godard's most perversely moving film. It is also very funny, which is too little remembered."

The Dying Animal

Photo above © Brian Dettmer
November 30th, 2008

Having a cold is something I very much dislike. Who doesn't ? Especially, since I was looking forward to a rare treat - one of the parties at Cologne's African Drum this weekend.
However, one gets more time than usually to catch up with books, films and research that have been piling up around the house. Feverish brainstorms included. And one stimulus for those was Philip Roth' short novella The Dying Animal. I read it in one sitting and it reminded me of the deep appreciation I have for the genius of Vladimir Nabokov - who has also been an entomologist and a synesthete.

In the beginning

The art of the title
November 25th, 2008

Been collecting title sequences for a long time. Here is another wonderful collection which I enjoy every other day...

Negative Knowledge

Jaana Parviainen and Marja Eriksson
November 22nd, 2008

Last week 'unlearning', the value of failure and legitimate errors were part of almost all my conversations. My fellow student, excellent consultant and challenging strategic thinker Michael Dodt recommended this extremely inspiring paper by Jaana Parviainen and Marja Eriksson. They explain and discuss the new idea and term of Negative Knowledge.
"'Negative' is concerned with 'the reflective turn', which sees unlearning skills, bracketing knowledge, doubt, having failures and making errors as meaningful for expertise, not just as signals of ignorance or the lack of expertise. We have identified four features by which we describe negative knowing. First, we are usually aware of our own competence, but we must also know what we do not know. Second, we must know what we must do, but also know what not to do. Third, negative knowledge involves 'unlearning' or 'bracketing' skills and knowledge. The fourth aspect in negative knowledge is that in doing things, we have to regard the value of failures, disappointments and frustrations. (...) Knowing negatively is related to a new sensitivity at work. Through negative knowledge we may gain a 'reversal' path, which consists of seeing unconventional ways to face our problems in the organisation. As a non-deterministic, deconstructive process, negative knowledge calls upon cognition, but it also asks questions to which there are no answers at all or questions that are not accessible through knowledge. Thus, it goes beyond cognition itself towards intuition, experimentation and creativity. It beckons to give us understanding about which there has previously been no understanding. When we face difficult, problematic situations to which there is perhaps no simple answer, we should think about the limits of our cognition with a reflective turn. The reflective turn requires that we face up to our own attitudes and positions towards things and people to question our own fixed patterns of behaviour."

to descend

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
November 12th, 2008

"As the afternoon drew to a close I walked through the park, and finally went to see the Nocturama, which had first been opened only a few months earlier. It was some time before my eyes became used to its artificial dusk and I could make out different animals leading their sombrous lives behind the glass by the light of a pale moon. (...) The only animal which has remained lingering in my memory is the raccoon. I watched it for a long time as it sat beside a little stream with a serious expression on its face, washing the same piece of apple over and over again, as if it hoped that all this washing, which went far beyond any reasonable thoroughness, would help it to escape the unreal world in which it had arrived, so to speak, through no fault of its own. Otherwise, all I remember of the denizens of the Nocturama is that several of them had strikingly large eyes, and the fixed, inquiring gaze found in certain painters and philosophers who seek to penetrate the darkness which surrounds us purely by means of looking and thinking. I believe that my mind also dwelt on the question of whether the electric light was turned on for the creatures in the Nocturama when real night fell and the zoo was closed to the public, so that as day dawned over their topsy-turvy miniature universe they could fall asleep with some degree of reassurance."
(Photo © Christian Schäfer)

Time out of mind

Steely Dan
November 8th, 2008

Son you better be ready for love
On this glory day
This is your chance to believe
What I've got to say
Keep your eyes on the sky
Put a dollar in the kitty
Don't the moon look pretty
Tonight when I chase the dragon
The water may change to cherry wine
And the silver will turn to gold
Time out of mind
I am holding the mystical sphere
It's direct from Lhasa
Where people are rolling in the snow
Far from the world we know
Children we have it right here
It's the light in my eyes
It's perfection and grace
It's the smile on my face

No dream

Sign of the horns
October 25th, 2008

ALICE "Only as sure as I am that the reality of one night, let alone that of a whole lifetime, can ever be the whole truth."
BILL "And no dream is ever just a dream." (Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut)
And in the original text:
"So gewiß, als ich ahne, daß die Wirklichkeit einer Nacht, ja daß nicht einmal die eines ganzen Menschenlebens zugleich auch seine innerste Wahrheit bedeutet." "Und kein Traum", seufzte er leise, "ist völlig Traum." (Arthur Schnitzler, Traumnovelle)
"If Eyes Wide Shut has a theme song, it is the lilting "Waltz 2 from Jazz Suite" by Dmitri Shostakovich, which is heard under the opening credits, in the Harfords' apartment as they get ready for the Christmas ball, in the transitional scenes that portray the everyday activities of Bill and Alice, and again under the final credits. According to Chion, the "ternary rhythm" of Eyes Wide Shut can be seen as Kubrick's final homage to the film-maker he admired most of all, Max Ophuls, and especially to the waltz in The Earrings of Madame de . . . (165). In Eyes Wide Shut the waltz leads us back into the fin de siecle Viennese milieu of Schnitzler and Freud and, as far as the relationship of the doctor and his wife is concerned, into the world of the subconscious where the demarcation blurs between dream and reality." (Charles H. Helmetag, Dream Odysseys: Schnitzler's Traumnovelle and Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut)

The double entendre

Albrecht Dürer: Melencolia I
October 22nd, 2008

Seems that I know a lot of people who celebrate their birthday in the zodiac sign of Libra. And it might only be a coincidence that the subject of ambiguousness came up several times in the last few days. As much as I enjoy multiple layers of meanings in artwork, it is just another thing in personal relationships.
"The Oxford English Dictionary defines a double entendre as especially being used to 'convey an indelicate meaning'. In these cases, the first meaning is presumed to be the more innocent one, while the second meaning is risqué, or at least ironic, requiring the hearer to have some additional knowledge. Double entendres can also be a more deliberate form of an ambiguity." (Wikipedia)

Eyes wide shut

Last words
October 17th, 2008

The last two days I found myself discussing this mind-blowing last film by Stanley Kubrick. Here is an elaborate review by Tim Kreider, who notices, "In the film's upbeat but dissonant denouement, the Harfords have taken their daughter Helena Christmas shopping, but they respond to her wishes only politely, distracted by their own inner children. Like many reviewers, they're still wrapped up in psychology and sex, missing the sociological implications of what's onscreen. But, as in so much of Kubrick's work, the dialogue is misdirection; the real story is being told visually. As poor Helena flits anxiously from one display to the next (already an avid little consumer) every item she fondles associates her with the women who have been exploited and destroyed by her father's circle. Helena's Christmas list includes a blue baby carriage (like the blue stroller seen twice outside Domino's apartment), an oversized teddy bear (next to a rack of tigers like the one on Domino's bed) and a Barbie doll (reminiscent of Milich's daughter) dressed in a diaphanous angel costume just like the one Helena herself wore in the film's first scene. She herself has already become a doll, a thing to be dressed up with cute costumes and accessories. Another toy, conspicuously displayed under a red ring of lights, is called "The Magic Circle"; the name is an allusion to the ring of ritual prostitutes at the orgy, and the bright red color of the box recalls the carpet on which they genuflected to the high priest, as well as the felt of the pool table over which Bill made his own bargain with the devil."

Consuming the Romantic Utopia

Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism
October 12th, 2008

"Since the early 1900s, advertisers have tied the purchase of beauty products, sports cars, diet drinks, and snack foods to success in love and happiness. Illouz reveals that, ultimately, every cliche of romance - from an intimate dinner to a dozen red roses - is constructed by advertising and media images that preach a democratic ethos of consumption: material goods and happiness are available to all. Engaging and witty, Illouz's study begins with readings of ads, songs, films, and other public representations of romance and concludes with individual interviews in order to analyze the ways in which mass messages are internalized."
The author of this important study, Eva Illouz, teaches sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the Academic Director of the Program of Cultural Studies as well as a member of The Center for the Study of Rationality.

Saturday night's fever

and hell's gate.
October 12th, 2008

The 20-year-old Franz Kafka, in a letter to his friend Oskar Pollak in November 1903: "We are as forlorn as children lost in the woods. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours? And if I were to cast myself down before you and weep and tell you, what more would you know about me than you know about hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful? For that reason alone we human beings ought to stand before one another as reverently, as reflectively, as lovingly, as we would before the entrance to hell."

Heart and Mind

by Edith Sitwell
October 11th, 2008

Said the Lion to the Lioness - "When you are amber dust -
No more a raging fire like the heat of the Sun
(No liking but all lust) -
Remember still the flowering of the amber blood and bone,
The rippling of bright muscles like a sea,
Remember the rose-prickles of bright paws,
Though we shall mate no more
Till the fire of that sun the heart and the moon-cold bone are one"

Said the Skeleton lying upon the sands of Time -
"The great gold planet that is the mourning heat of the Sun
Is greater than all gold, more powerful
Than the tawny body of a Lion that fire consumes
Like all that grows or leaps... so is the heart
More powerful than all dust. Once I was Hercules
Or Sampson, strong as the pillars of the seas:
But the flames of the heart consumed me, and the mind
Is but a foolish wind."

Said the Sun to the Moon - "When you are but a lonely white crone,
And I, a dead King in my golden armour somewhere in a dark wood,
Remember only this of our hopeless love:
That never till Time is done
Will the fire of the heart and the fire of the mind be one.

"Edith Sitwell was most interested by the distinction between poetry and music, a matter explored in Façade (1922), which was set to music by William Walton, a series of abstract poems the rhythms of which counterfeited those of music. Façade was performed behind a curtain with a hole in the mouth of a painted face and the words were recited through the hole with the aid of a megaphone." (answer.com)


Milton H. Erickson
October 5th, 2008

Watzlawick, Weakland and Fisch (1974) describe the gentle art of reframing thus: "To reframe, then, means to change the conceptual and/or emotional setting or viewpoint in relation to which a situation is experienced and to place it in another frame which fits the 'facts' of the same concrete situation equally well or even better, and thereby changing its entire meaning."
Highly recommended in this context: "My Voice Will Go with You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson" edited and with commentary by Sidney Rosen.

Total confusion

Lesson learned
October 3rd, 2008

"In the fields of neuropsychology, personal development and education, Learning is one of the most important mental function of humans, animals and artificial cognitive systems. It relies on the acquisition of different types of knowledge supported by perceived information. It leads to the development of new capacities, skills, values, understanding, and preferences. Its goal is the increasing of individual and group experience. Learning functions can be performed by different brain learning processes, which depend on the mental capacities of learning subject, the type of knowledge which has to be acquitted, as well as on socio-cognitive and environmental circumstances." (Wikipedia)
"A cure is a substance or procedure that makes a sick or diseased person well. A cure can be a medication, a surgical operation, a change in lifestyle, or even a philosophical mindset that helps a person heal." (Wikipedia)
"Healing, assessed spiritually, emotionally, mentally or otherwise, is a process which involves more than just the action of cells." (Wikipedia)
Amongst others, thank you Alexander Shulgin.

We need to communicate...

...because we can not understand each other.
September 29th, 2008

The last few days I have been reminded of this quote ("Wir müssen kommunizieren, weil wir uns nicht verstehen können.") by my teacher at university, Bazon Brock.
Check out the passionate and compelling TED Talk video lecture by Wade Davis and learn about the rapidly continuing loss of languages. As one comment puts it: I am amazed and challenged to my core.

Enjoy your symptom!

Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out
September 26th, 2008

Slavoj Zizek: "When a fantasy object, something imagined, an object from inner space, enters our ordinary reality the texture of reality is twisted, distorted. This is how desire inscribes itself into reality, distorting it. Desire is a wound of reality. The art of cinema consists in arousing desire, to play with desire, but at the same time keeping it at a safe distance - domesticating it, rendering it." (THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA)
Joseph Campbell: "People say that we all are seeking for the meaning of life. I don't think that this is what we are really seeking. I think what we are really seeking is an experience of being alive." (The Power of Myth)

Love Without Mercy

lacanian ink magazine
September 5th, 2008

In this video the brilliant Josefina Ayerza, founder and editor of lacanian ink magazine, introduces philosopher Slavoj Zizek. lacanian ink's issue 21 was on love and Zizek's vivid talk on the subject is worth every minute. Is love evil as he suggests? Guess I have to think about this a bit longer...

Music and limerence

August 2008

In the Guardian Andrew G. Marshall stated: "Every popular song is about it, half our books and films obsess over it, everybody wants it. But when we come to ask what love is, we are overwhelmed by a myriad different ideas and experiences. (...) Scientists have been trying to define love according to their frame of reference for a very long time."
Limerence, as posited by psychologist Dorothy Tennov is "an involuntary cognitive and emotional state in which a person feels an intense romantic desire for another person. The concept is an attempt at a scientific study into the nature of romantic love."(Wikipedia)
In her book Love and Limerence Tennov recognized that the term taboo could appropriately be used in connection with the study of romantic love - maybe because no one feels entirely comfortable with the subject. "It can be dangerous to stick your neck out on the subject of love - dangerous to your self-esteem and to your reputation. The existence of an irrational state that affects thinking, mood, and action among persons otherwise sane would lead to precisely the effect observed - a good deal of confusion and of logically incompatible descriptions."
Love has been called a madness and madness implies loss of control and inspires fear. "In its involuntariness, limerence conflicts with the fundamental position of the Judeo-Christian philosophy, which holds that human beings are free, rational, and therefore, responsible creatures." The "acceptance of normal 'insanity', of involuntary irrationality as an inherited pattern of thought and performance, has an unacceptable flavor. It is an idea so subversive to traditional belief systems that this may be an important reason why limerence and nonlimerence were not isolated and defined sooner. Visible as both states are in fiction and poetry, their existence in poetry and fiction does not force resolution of the philosophical problem they pose."
It has been reported that approximately 85% of popular music concerns love. The relationship between love and music is strong for most of us. Also, it is financially profitable to hold limerence as an ideal, not only for the music industry.
So, I am asking myself, what is the relationship between music and limerence? Started my research with three books as shown above. More to come...

The Heart Of Germany

Video Compilation
July 2008

Spent the week in Berlin. At tea time with an old friend we watched the DVD compilation "The Heart Of Germany" by Atatak. Early 80s music videos by Der Plan, Andreas Dorau and Holger Hiller. Intelligent concepts, wonderful craftsmanship and German humour at its best. Also, check out Palais Schaumburg's clip for "Wir bauen eine neue Stadt". 25 years old and still contemporary, imagine the CK logo in it... - thanks Titus!

The eyes in his head see the world spinning round

Observatory Hoher List, Germany
June 2008

Have been invited to a private tour by enchanted astrophysicist Michael Geffert at the observatory near the town Daun on the 551 meter high Hoher List. It was almost a time travel to the 50s - furniture, smell and technology. Learned about the Bonner Durchmusterung and had an inspiring conversation with Michael Geffert, Carsten Görtz and Marcus Schmickler in the observatory's archive about the telephone book of the universe. Left with a photographic glass plate from 1902 that shows a negative image of the moon - friend in the distance.

VOX - 15th birthday

Blog entry on their first on air design
January 2008

Read this charming article (German) about the 1993 version of VOX' on air design on Fernsehlexikon. It's been quite a while since I worked for VOX and produced with an international group of outstanding designers the audiovisual identity for the launch in January 1993. Thanks Stefan!