Friday, June 27, 2008

76 - Notes on a pleasant nightmare

  1. Festival of smoking crosses in Belgium. Cross connoisseurs smoking church sized pipes in every manner and style of cross.
  2. A large successful English class nearly derailed by gremlins at the blackboard who keep erasing the word lists.
  3. A teacher furious because my classes are so loud she can't hear herself think.
  4. A individual class interrupted for a workshop then extended indefinitely.
  5. Kidnapping attempt on Professor Heinman's daughter foiled at the last moment.
  6. A bilocating hall of mirrors such that one couple walks in and 6 walk out, operating in sufficiently out of sync timelines and realities that each couple is unaware of the others although nevertheless meeting from time to time as that is what waves do.
  7. A five dimensional vase.
  8. Reality viewed as a cross-section
  9. Electing to stay versus lobbying to go.
  10. Life as a choose-your-own-adventure game. Why not?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wei Lu Wei - Master of Higgledy-Piggledy

Wei Lu Wei, his friends called him Frank, was a master of arts both Eastern and Western, he had become so accomplished in the practice of 'Satori through Zen Procrastination, the Art of Not Trying as the Road of Success' that the less effort he made, the more material success he enjoyed.

"Your enemies have all the resources inside them they need to destroy themselves, to defeat them, you must only remove their distractions," he would intone wisely through a mouthful of breakfast cereal playing videogames in the lotus position.

His friends sometimes found his pronouncements strange, nobody could doubt they worked.

Once, in a bar, Wei insulted an angry drunk by accident who suddenly towered before Wei, shaking with rage.

Wei didn't even tense up, he stayed seated where he was, merely spoke in the scalding tone of a contemptuous master to a disobedient slave, "Later, your girlfriend is going to kill you, behaving like that, you've got a real problem with aggression asshole."

The hulking brute left in confusion, arms waving wildly and words spewing randomly. Lucky to be healthy.

As all his friends knew, Wei could have killed him.

These days it went against his philosophy to be so crass.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

My students are (almost) famous


My student Peter and 'You can dance' champion Artur, Pretty cool eh?
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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

77 - Issues too difficult to ignore, too horrible to contemplate

In a couple of years, owning a 'personal life recorder' will be commonplace. For the first time in history, the average citizen will be able to conveniently document the minutiae of their lives as never before: streaming video, surround sound, speech-to-text, delivered from anywhere and at anytime. Even all the time. Your whole life?

Some will embrace the new authority: voluntary, edited, self-surveillance (with commentary) while others may give up cell phones altogether (the most likely hardware platform) while still others will engage in varying degrees with the new tools but in the end, it's a politicizing question because it's unavoidable to have an opinion on such a tectonic shift in how we organize ourselves as human beings in society. How engaged in your life are you? Link me to your proof and I'll link you to mine. Couples considering romantic involvments will be able to investigate potential mates as never before. Think he or she is cute and smart? Check out their blog, check out their social networks, are they honest, forthright and true or are they lying pieces of shit?

In the near future, the record will literally speak for itself. Even now, Social networks are interesting sources of socialogical insight: how many friends? where are they? do people have more friends in their hometown or around the world? what are their friends views?

Show me who your friends are and I'll show you who you are, right? Well, yes. Although sometimes not really.

Social Networking lets people 'manage' their friends (Can a person really have +300 really close friends?) asynchronously and across the globe as a matter of daily fact, has it really brought us closer together or is it now simply easier and far more convenient to ignore whole stretches of people and places at a time?

Unburdened of the obligation to meet each other in the real world in order to maintain contacts, is it possible that our vaunted social networks of friends are really just thinly disguised contact databases? Someone to call when you neeed something done?

It can be safely assumed that the warm fuzzy feeling is gone when your list of friends is over +1000.

I can think of a few close friends with zero net-presence at all. Are they enlightened or simply the new dispossessed?

When personal lifestyle recorders enter the marketplace, what new strange behaviours will begin to be exhibited? Will people increasingly spend time 'alone' while surrounded by a virtual halo of friends in a bluetoothed ad hoc wi-max networked partial hallucination? Can I have breakfast in Reality 2.0 with all my friends and family at once? Even the dead ones?

The ancient Romans prepared death masks of the recently dead, a wax impression of the deceased's face which was then used to make a plaster cast of startling vividness and detail. At special family functions, a respected member of the family would wear the mask of the departed ancestor so that he or she could attend the festivities.

Technology can ultimately do the Romans one better, a simulacrum of a person, based on a lifetime's data from their Personal Lifestyle Recorder could (theoretically at least) bring a dead person back, for most intents and purposes, from the dead.

This is a future ruled by ghosts. This is a future of distributed ego and wide area self-concept.

The Earth is growing a central nervous system, is a planetary brain far behind?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

It's a tough job but...

78 - The Simplest Story to Tell That I Know

Once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl. They were surrounded by many other boys and girls but somehow, the other boys and the other girls didn't look like real people when the boy and the girl were together. When they were together, other boys and other girls looked like dolls, maybe even pictures in a book.

The boy and the girl had many adventures together, living in a paper world, with dolls for friends, teacup parties in the garden, the boy and the girl were happy. Most of the time they were very happy. Sometimes they were sad, because only dolls and pictures in books are happy all the time.

One day they met some other boys and girls, The boy and the girl both wondered if maybe they should go and play with these other boys and girls.

In the end they decided to stay together and play together and have more adventures together because they had both learned while playing with the other boys and girls that other boys and girls were not better or worse, only different. Also, the other boys and girls didn't remember anything important to the boy and the girl. They didn't remember summers in the garden with teacups. They didn't remember each other.

The End