Archive for May, 2010

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Might As Well Face It You’re Addicted To Oil

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 31, 2010 by admin in Clean & Green

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Denial Is Not A River In Egypt. But if it were, it would probably be covered in oil as well.

Are you done bellyaching about the gulf oil spill yet? ’cause I didn’t hear a peep out of you as 448 million gallons of oil spewed from the ground in Nigeria in a continuous catastrophe over the last 50 years. 214 million of which spilled just this month. And I haven’t seen you sell your car or stop using any of the products that we use every day that are derived from petroleum (see a short list below). We can keep pointing fingers at Obama or at BP or Satan – or little oil fairies, for that matter. But when it comes right down to it, the parties responsible are you and me. We’re like an alcoholic who blames last night’s bartender for our waking up half off the bed with a splitting headache and our pants around our ankles using clever lines like “I was overserved last night”. The term “oil addiction” is almost hackneyed by now, but still as accurate as it ever was. If you haven’t heard your behavior framed that way before, check out the article The price of our oil addiction- excerpted from David Elliot Cohen’s What Matters, or the 2004 book Oil Addiction: The World In Peril. And please, do me a favor. Until you’re ready to check into rehab, stop complaining about your dealer. And if you’re gonna keep using, maybe you should start gambling too. There’s a great web site where you can bet on the spill-related extinctions of gulf species. You may as well. If you keep living the way you do, you could make a crapload betting against your own species. Read the rest of this entry »

Ergonomic Designs That Get To The Seat Of The Matter

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 30, 2010 by admin in Technology

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

One could easily get the impression that the definition of “ergonomic” is “strange looking”.

You may be wondering why we’re featuring a photo of a guy’s butt resting on an HR Giger sculpture today. Well, first of all, it’s because of the fact that if we used a girl’s butt you’d think we were sexist. And second, it’s not an HR Giger sculpture, it’s an actual bicycle seat, called the Manta Saddle. The makers say it “changes the whole feel of being seated on a bicycle“. Which is what you would immediately think when you see it with no-one seated on it (see below). But in spite of its first butt-pinching impressions, it apparently eases pressure on the perineum, pudendal arteries, prostate, and nerves, minimizing biker butt. You may have noticed that “ergonomic” can usually be defined as “strange looking”. In spite of our bumpy, curvy bodies, we’ve designed an entire world out of hard angles, presumably because it’s historically been easier to fabricate things this way. Or do we just find it unsettling to the mind to surround ourselves with irregular, bulbous shapes? Who knows. Below are some images of other odd-looking ergonomic designs. Feel free to share if you know of more good examples. Read the rest of this entry »

How To Increase Productivity & Creativity? Be Crazy, Get Paid Less

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 29, 2010 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

To be creative it might help if you’re slightly insane, and strangely, financial reward can actually IMPEDE quality and productivity.

There are an amazing number of books and blogs offering advice on how to enhance creativity and improve productivity. Which has always struck me as rather amusing. In my opinion, if you find yourself systematically looking for ways to be creative, well, you probably aren’t. And although reviewing processes and refining or developing skills or knowledge are crucial keys to being productive, the real key to productivity is to (ahem) PRODUCE. Which is something you aren’t doing when you’re spending all day looking for ways to be more productive, right? So what’s the secret to being more creative? I’ve always been of the opinion that the most creative people I’ve known bordered on being case studies from the DSM-IV. And finally, science is backing me up. Yes, creativity is essentially a form of insanity. And frankly, if scientists were more creative, they would have realized this already, like I did. In an analagous fashion, one of the big keys to being productive and creating a successful new market is also akin to insanity, i.e.: Disruptive Innovation. Disruption is something that the creators of Skype understand well; in fact they’re funding more of it as you read this. And regarding productivity? Well, get to work. But if you need to make others get to work, you may find the concepts in this presentation by Dan Pink (also below) surprising. Being self-employed and not raised in the corporate culture, I’ve always found the number of “warm seats” at most larger companies perplexing. We needn’t go into all the theories about 20-70-10 workforces or whatever, it’s a common sense observation that large organizations inevitably end up with lots of moderately well-paid employees that produce very little in relation to their real potential. Pink’s presentation – which is based on information from top-notch academic studies – is an informative and entertaining look at the myth of “greater reward equals greater performance”. It turns out that if you want people to produce, simply paying them more can actually be counterproductive. Read the rest of this entry »

The Future Of Musical Instruments?

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on May 28, 2010 by admin in Music

Friday, May 28th, 2010

The Eigenharp and the Misa Digital Guitar are amazing devices. Are instrument designers finally making devices that aren’t just silly keyboard/guitar mashups?

I’ve always been intrigued by new ways to make musical sounds. In fact, the very first post here on Dissociated Press was about the Moog Guitar. Although I call myself a guitarist on occasion, my main “axe” for a long time was a Rickenbacker 481* with custom pickups, usually run through odd combinations of a Big Muff, an A/DA flanger, rack delay, and a heavily EQ’d PA amp instead of a guitar amp. I also was pretty adept with analog synths, way back when they were new. As a result of my creative but less-than-virtuosic skill with both guitar and keyboards, for years I’ve longed for a more expressive instrument that utilized all the amazing digital tools available while still remaining musical. Early devices like the Casio Keytar or the SynthAxe were amusing, but really just gimmicky mashups of existing instruments. At one point I almost bought a Chapman Stick (made famous by Peter Gabriel’s “bassist” Tony Levin, see him play one here) but in spite of its amazing versatility, it wasn’t really suited to controlling digital devices. And as fascinating as I find the devices we previously rounded up in this piece, none of them really seem like “instruments”. Which is why I’m a little intrigued with both the Eigenharp and the Misa Digital Guitar. More so by the Eigenharp, because while the Misa’s touchscreen and software appear remarkable, they’ve gone and put it all in a “guitar”, which just doesn’t make sense to me. The Eigenharp, on the other hand, brings just about every available control method (save a theremin) into a new and seemingly ergonomic body design which sort of resembles a bassoon. Or that instrument in the Star Wars band. It has velocity sensitive multi-expressive keys, a wind controller, ribbon controller strips, percussion keys, and a built-in step sequencer with indicator LEDs for each key. Pretty amazing if it all works! Below are demo videos, decide for yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

Fetal Distraction: Splice The Movie

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 27, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

In theaters June 4th, Vincenzo Natali’s “Splice”, starring Oscar winner Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley, promises to be the best bad movie of the summer.

It is with a moderate amount of shame that I admit that the next film release that intrigues me is Splice, which will be in theaters June 4. The film looks like it falls comfortably into a genre that I for reasons beyond my comprehension am fascinated with, the slickly-produced film that may be really bad but knows that it is, and is therefore exceptional in a twisted sort of way. I have a long list of these that I’ll share someday (it would be very different from Rotten Tomatoes’ list based on the same idea), but recent examples would be Teeth or Hissss. The recent Repo Men should have made it into this realm, but failed, for reasons that I can’t quite put my finger on. In any case, Splice’s premise is from the familiar territory of Frankenstein-meets-egotistical-gene-splicing-scientist stuff, but apparently director Vincenzo Natali (The Cube) spins the story into what one reviewer referred to as “An erotic sci-fi on acid reproductive romp with bald bisexual bestiality, possible self-rape, involuntary transsexual gender reassignment; and DNA altered worms named Ginger and Fred, who may actually be George and Fred“. As is often the case for me, I’m almost more interested in the marketing of the thing than the story or the product itself; whoever is responsible for promoting the film has perfectly executed the all-too-common blunder of creating “virals” that never went viral, in this case partly because they suck, but more likely because they’re buried do deeply on the film’s site that you can’t even find them if you already know they exist. It’s not as much fun as “Elfing Yourself”, but go Splice Yourself anyway. All the same, I’ll be in line for a matinee showing next Friday. The film stars Oscar winner Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as the scientists Clive and Elsa (after Colin Clive and Elsa Lancaster, stars of the 1930s Frankenstein films) and French actress Delphine Chaneac as their creation DREN. Trailer and images below. Read the rest of this entry »

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