Archive for March, 2011

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Thomas Dolby’s “Oceana” On iTunes, Online Game Announced For Upcoming “Urbanoia” EP

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 31, 2011 by admin in Music

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

I’m in no mood for games, Mr. Dolby, but I admire your marketing savvy.

Now available on iTunes

Well lucky you, average music consumer. You can now purchase Thomas Dolby’s recent EP “Oceana” – previously only available to drooling sycophants like myself – on iTunes. And Mr. Dolby has announced another small change in marketing strategy. While he originally stated a plan to release three EP’s (exclusively to Flat Earth Society subscribers) leading up to the full release of the album “A Map Of The Floating City” this summer, he’s now added an online social networking adventure to the mix. While the FES forums and regular promotional materials that are being released don’t go into much detail, this fellow is apparently one of the developers. And Dolby himself described it in this interview with Amy Steele: “You can access the game for free through your web browser. It’s set in a kind of 1930s that might have come to be, had the strange experimental weapons of that time come to fruition. There were sonic cannons and Tesla death rays. In the game, tribes of players collaborate to explore what’s left of the planet following an event of mass destruction. Survivors take to the oceans in the hulls of abandoned vessels, and eventually they raft up, like the merchants’ barges in Tokyo harbor in the 17th century. A strange kind of barter culture emerges, a form of ‘maker’ society where players cobble together inventions using relics from the past. Most of this is done in text form, you understand, it’s a kind of collaborative fiction, not a 3d shoot em up. And as you explore the game, you will discover new songs from the 3rd and final EP from my album, ‘Urbanoia’.”  As a non-gamer, this doesn’t thrill me much, but it’s a clever marketing angle. I’ll personally probably just wait for random leaks and buy the complete album when it arrives. We’ve been following Dolby’s recent releases with interest since last May, and will share any updates as they become available. So Oceanea remains the only material you can purchase without becoming a Flat Earth Society member, or playing the upcoming game. But if you love the tune Toadlickers as much as I do, well, there’s an app for that. Vids below. Read the rest of this entry »

Star Trek Design Part I: The Good The Bad & The iPad

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 30, 2011 by admin in Popular Media

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

A look at the “Hilton in space” aesthetic, how Star Trek DIDN’T predict the iPad, and a preview of how Star Trek perpetuates race and gender exploitation with hot green chicks and bullet bras.

Spock laments the state of Desktop
computing in the 23rd century.

I’ve confessed this before, but here it goes again. I’m secretly a bit of a Star Trek fan. However, there’s a good reason for this that I don’t always share, which is the little-known fact that at one time I was actually captain of a starship. Only, of course, if I was the first one to the jungle jim, or otherwise engineered the demotion of one of my fellow officers during recess in second grade, but a starship captain all the same. These days, as an aspiring adult, I occasionally still get a kick out of watching episodes from various Star Trek franchises, but mostly as a sort of historical review of production and story trends over the years. For me, the original series is the most resilient, primarily because – in part due to budget constraints but in part due to Gene Roddenberry’s unique vision – it was more like theatre than television. The fact that a man with funny eyebrows, sinister facial hair, and a dark complexion was an evil alien, or that a bank of blinking lights with no discernible function was a supercomputer, were perfect production elements, and perfect environments for the overwrought, scenery-chomping acting that delivered the usually high-concept stories that Roddenberry and his writers created. This simplicity of props and sets served the series well, especially when it came to devices. The fewer the details demonstrated the better, because then one would just accept that the device did what it did, without breaking the suspension of disbelief with critical analysis. A perfect example of this is the PADD devices, the various handheld gizmos used by characters over the years. In the original series, it was just a mysterious tablet-like device with a few blinking lights. No attempt was made to show what it really did, or what its display looked like. This was smart, because it’s a safe bet that they would have made it look like an Etch A Sketch. Which is where I think a lot of the later franchises began to fail in little ways. Characters with big rubbery heads just make you wonder what their big rubbery heads are made of, and props, sets, ansd costumes with decade-specific designs just make the show look like it’s from a specific decade. Which is something I’m going to explore over the course of a few articles, because one side effect of re-watching these old shows on today’s digital devices for me is that I obsessively create screen grabs of things that jump out at me, to document the thoughts I’m having. I’m going to start with my low-level irritation with the tendency for tech writers and sci-fi fans to suggest that the Star Trek franchise somehow “predicted” the iPad (that’s otherwise a really interesting article by the way). While I have tremendous admiration for the concept and design work of Michael Okuda, who, among other things, developed the look of the user interfaces (which fans call Okudagrams)seen in the later series, I recently learned that the main original designer – Matt Jefferies – shared my mild contempt for the PADD devices and later “updated” set designs. I’ve always had a hard time accepting that 300 years from now, we’ll still be carrying around little PDA’s when technology is otherwise so sufficiently developed as to enable us to bend space and disassemble and reassemble objects on an atomic level. It’s said that Jefferies didn’t approve of the inclusion of the original series’ “captain’s tablet”, fell asleep while watching the first movie, and referred to the later bridge design as a Hilton in space. Below are some screen grabs that demonstrate how – at least in my opinion – all the PADDs and other handheld devices predicted nothing, and in fact very much reflected the design aesthetic of the decade of the show in which they were utilized. I’ve also included a few screen grabs to preview some upcoming pieces that will touch on fashion, sexism, and general design. Read the rest of this entry »

War – What Is It Good For?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 29, 2011 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Absolutely nothin’. Say it again.

The other day I was pondering the events of September 11, 2001, and wondered what America would be doing to celebrate the tenth anniversary of those events later this year. I hope what ever we do shows a little more strength and dignity than what we did shortly after the atrocities perpetrated that day. I’ve always been of the opinion that the fellows charged with responding to those events were rather pleased that they had occurred, because it allowed them to pursue their previously stated desire of “Creating Tomorrow’s Dominant Force”,  as they so charmingly put it. I won’t belabor the absurdity of initiating two armed conflicts abroad, killing more than a million people total, including at least 6,000 American deaths in addition to the 2,996 resulting from the original attacks as a response to those attacks. Anyone who can silence the partisan gibberish in their head for a moment can look at the numbers and the results, i.e., the fact that there’s still a Taliban, still an al-Quaeda, and that Osama bin Laden is probably enjoying his falconing hobby in relative comfort in Iran – and realize that someone was fibbing somewhere, and had another agenda. Or perhaps the famous Donald Rumsfeld poem (also below) just reflected that there are a lot more things “we don’t know we don’t know” than he knew. And even if there were truth to the notion that somehow tracking down bin Laden was the real aim, that strategy embodies the same absurdity as the Italo Calvino story Conscience . If you’re not familiar with the story, I won’t spoil it. It’s only a page and a half long, so I’ve embedded it below. So I could go on for days, citing numbers,  pointing fingers, and trying to show off what I think I know about the causes of war, but I have this seemingly irrational hope that in spite of thousands of years of history that contraindicates the possibility, that perhaps within my lifetime, humans will actually abandon war as an approach to resolving conflict. The tragically high suicide rate of returning American soldiers  seems to me a sad reflection of a heightened awareness of the sickness of the human psyche that makes war palatable to the entitled few, who then send the less-entitled and more honorable to execute their sociopathic, murderous plans. It’s unfortunate that there has to be an oppressed people for truly inspired, spiritually driven leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi to rise to prominence, but every time a person like this lives a life and leaves their mark, it gives someone in the present some tools to keep building a better future. And I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I suggest that an incredible number of people, from a vast variety of nations and cultures, are oppressed right now. And that a remarkably small number of people are benefiting from this oppression, and helping perpetuate it. Maybe the next inspired leader who battles racism and hatred with love will be fighting for the human race. Some quotes and the story “Conscience” below….

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Let’s Talk About Penises

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 28, 2011 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Or maybe not. When you don’t have dick to write about, you can always reach for the low hanging fruit.

I got an e-mail from a friend this morning asking me what I was going to write about today. I replied with “To be honest, I don’t have dick“. I don’t usually talk that way; this was an old friend who never seems to understand what I’m talking about unless I punctuate every sentence with an f-bomb or reference to bodily functions or the more personal aspects of human anatomy. A few minutes later he sent me a link to this interactive map of penis sizes around the world (there’s another one that correlates the data with IQ if you’re interested). This made me realize that although I’d written about Dick a lot over the last couple years, I hadn’t written about penis since July 2008, and in that instance, it was a rather historically important penis. At this point I’d like to point out that I’m still not writing about penises, I’m writing about not writing about penises. And I have to say that in spite of this extended abstinence from penis (I mean, as a topic) and even after combing Dickipedia, I still came up with dick. So have I finally become just another example of The Peter Principle? Have I risen to my level of incompetence with my own web site? Or is it possible that I just don’t find penises that exciting? Once I started pondering the topic though, I couldn’t help noticing that I couldn’t recall the last time a friend – male or female – had brought up penises in casual conversation. Which seems a little odd. I mean, about half the human race has one, and on a basic level, human life is nearly impossible without them. All the same, I’m personally still okay not talking about them. Although I did learn today that there’s a Wikipedia page (SFW, if the word “penis” is safe where you work) devoted to penis size, and that there’s such a thing as a (NSFW, and frankly, not safe for much of anything) Micropenis. And I also ran across an amusing anecdote. Apparently, when trade was first opening up between the US and the USSR in the 80′s, one of the first exports from the US to Russia was from the condom industry. The Russians insisted that the condoms had to fit a penis of 11 inches in length, and repeated this requirement when the Americans checked,  just to make sure that there wasn’t a mistake in translation. So, the Americans sent the condoms of the specified dimension.  In boxes labeled “???????? ???????” . Which is where a lot of penis talk seems to end up, in jokes about size. So what do you think? Does the world need more penis talk?

P-Harmony Pairs Lonely Politicians & Lovelorn Lobbyists

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 27, 2011 by admin in Clean & Green

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Finally, politicians who are bored with casually screwing their constituents can find deeper, more rewarding relationships through online dating.

Are you a love-starved DC lobbyist, looking for some hot freshman action? Or maybe a stimulation junky politician, who already has a hot trophy wife and portrait-perfect kids, but would love to get in bed and talk dirt with a well-oiled energy lobbyist who wants to “drill baby drill”? Well, thanks to the internet and sophisticated tools refined through decades of computerized dating, you no longer need spend all that extra time wining and dining the politician who will take any position you like, or the lobbyist to lubricate your dreams of power. Because now there’s P-Harmony. To be honest, I’m not sure I always care for Greenpeace’s methods or agendas, and I’ve seen so many virals that I think I’ve contracted  a permanent infection, but I still enjoyed the recent Greenpeace parody dating service campaign “Polluter Harmony”. Especially when they took a particularly witty swipe at a congressman from my home state. When the lobbyist in the video below asks P-Harmony’s Chief Harmonologist if he has an in with the “Kŏchs”, he says “It’s Kōch, and yes, I swing with them all the time”. See more P-Harmony member profiles here . Video below.

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