Monday, November 28, 2005

[[ZEITGEIST]]Fates_tapestry.jpg "It's official: Romance lasts just a year, Italian scientists say."
Or so the BBC site proclaimed in the above tagline relating to this article...

"The University of Pavia found a brain chemical was likely to be responsible for the first flush of love… In those who had just started a relationship, levels of a protein called nerve growth factors, which causes tell-tale signs such as sweaty palms and the butterflies, were significantly higher….Of the 39 people who were still in the same new relationship after a year, the levels of NGF had been reduced to normal levels. "

Why do I bring this up? Well I think it is interesting that we frequently see this kind of article in the popular media. if you don't belive me just look at the items on the "see also" section associated with this page on the BBC health site. There is a basic template to this kind of story. The word of a scientist (preferably working in the field of genetics) is presented as the final word on determining a certain type of human behaviour, be it a predeliction to murder, sexual preference of even our capacity to love. It is in the genes we are told. Funny that you never see an article which says, social scientists prove that love is not in the genes. I suppose it is assumed that we all know that already?? But then if that were true it begs the question why we are apparently so interested in hearing that we have no choice in determining who we are.

I wonder, and this is only a half baked tentative supposition, if this has anything to do with a human need to believe that there is such a thing as fate governing our lives. Of course such a belief was very prevalent in past societies. The ancient Greeks for instance has the Μοίραι (Moirae) Who were the personifications of destiny and as wikipedia put it "controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal and immortal from birth to death (and beyond)." My theory is that in our modern, mostly secular age the idea of the fates probably won't wash, so we have transmuted the Moira and they not live in the strands of our DNA.

Of course the idea of 'fate' is opposed by that of 'free will' and indeed the very personification of fate sets up a kind of dialectic, which in later cultures to ancient Greece, (I'm thinking especially of the Enlightenment here) created a tension around the idea that life was fated, and a belief that perhaps the fates could be challenged by either one's strength of character or even by technology. It is an irony then that when we have seemingly banished the chimeras of superstition to the nether regions of the subconscious, that they have re-appeared in the very guises of those who were intitially credited with vanquishing them, i.e., the scientists.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

john tullochNot In My Name
The Guardian has a story about the blood-stained man who graced the cover of the Sun on the day that parliament voted on the 90 day terror laws with the headline 'Tell Tony He's Right'. Well, irony of ironies, this man turns out to be the media studies professor John Tulloch, author of Risk and Everyday life. Not a man you would have thought who would have supported a Draconian curtailment of individual freedom that was Blair's proposed anti-terror laws... and you would have been right.

"There could be no more inappropriate image for the Sun to have chosen. The bloodied victim, John Tulloch, feels deep anger with Tony Blair and politicians for the role they played in stirring up the violence that came to London on July 7. But Tulloch also happens to be a university professor in media studies. As the Sun's editors were putting together their front page on Monday night, Tulloch, slowly recovering from his injuries, was hard at work on a book he has just started. The subject? What happens when a professor of media studies, habituated to deconstructing news stories, becomes the subject of the story."

for more on Professor Tulloch's academic career go here and here

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

exploding whaleExploding Whale
To celebrate the launch of Google Video, well of me finding it anyway, I bring you a perennial internet favourite the Oregon State Highway Division's nightmare that was the exploding whale. Although this story is absolutely real, I love the combiniation of satire on homespun news reporting and out and out slap-stick (good descriptive actually). This one always went down very well when I worked at Greenpeace by the way.

Now if only I can find a decent copy of 'loving cat.'

I found 'loving cat' here

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

[[ZEITGEIST]] Kate Bush Aerial Sleeve Kate Bush 'Aerial'
I was eagerly anticipating the release of this one, and I must say it does not disappoint. I particularly love the use of birdsong mixed with Kate's own vocals. Wood pigeons form a chorus intoning that the 'sea and sky are full of honey'. Blackbirds' song mixed with human laughter. It seems that with Kate, metaphorical allusions no longer need to be spoken of; they can be demonstrated - it's just genius really! I was intrigued when I heard Kate Bush's new album was going to be called 'Aerial'. I wondered if it was a nod to Sylvia Plath's elegiac last book of poems - Ariel? Seems not: the dominant emotion in Kate's work is joy. The connection is interesting though, I wonder if Plath served as Bush's educator in the same way that Shopenhauer served as Nietzsche's?

"...for your true nature lies, not concealed deep within you, but immeasurably high above you, or at least above that which you usually take yourself to be. Your true educators and formative teachers reveal to you what the true basic material of your being is, something in itself ineducable and in any case difficult of access, bound and paralysed: your educators can be only your liberators. (UM3:129)"

Implicit in Nietzsche conception of an educator, is the notion that eventually the educator will be ultimately transcended. It is tempting to draw connections between Bush and Plath, so I will! Perhaps by entitling her work 'Aerial', Kate feels confident enough to both acknowledge Plath's influence and transcend it at the same time???

Now a more fatuous remark about Kate Bush's return. Has anyone tried to navigate her website yet? If you fancy your chances go here. It is very beautiful but just a little too controlling (metaphor for Kate?). Anyway, I think Kate needs to consult with Jacob Nielsen as well as with her other artistic muses on future designs!

The text for Shopenhauer as educator can be found here
The Kate Bush fanzine homegound can be found here

Thursday, November 03, 2005

There is a story on the BBC website of a guy paying $100,000 for a virtual space station that he plans to turn into a nightclub. Here is some info on the guy, his name is Jon Jacobs aka NEVERDIE

In October of 2005, Project-Entropia developer Mindark placed into public auction a Virtual Space Resort built upon an Asteroid with a nightclub, multiple hunting areas [hunting areas?!!], a stadium, and a 1000-room hotel. This extraordinary piece of virtual Real Estate with incredible real-cash revenue potential captured the imagination of the gaming community and within only three days, eight serious bidders had emerged. NEVERDIE, who is based in Miami, Florida, watched as hurricane Wilma approached and realized that if the winds took out his power he might lose the auction, so in the early hours of the morning he used the "Buy it Now" auction feature and purchased the Resort outright for the Record sum of $100,000 U.S. dollars. NEVERDIE has officially named the spacre resort Club NEVERDIE and he promises to develop it into the Greatest virtual night club in the Universe

Sayah King Heady stuff I'm sure you'll agree. However investigating further into project Entropia I get the impression that rather than being the stuff that dreams are made of, it is the stuff that I get spammed about all the time, "you too can be rich... you too can find luurve" which proports to be the stuff that dreams are made of... if you grasp my meaning. Check out the unintentionally hillarious promotional video, in which the PVC clad Sayah King is your virtual guide on a tour of project Entropia. This tour quickly reveals the paucity of the imagination of Entropia's architects, who equate "virtual utopia" with "terrestrial shopping mall."

I also like this oh so inclusive statement on their FAQ:

3.4 Why is not Macintosh or Linux supported?
Project Entropia is built on a graphics engine from NDL which currently requires DirectX from Microsoft to run. There are currently no plans to make PE available on other platforms than the Microsoft compatible PC.

[[IMMERSIVE]] martin heideggerI have just posted a glossary of terms used in Heidegger's Being and Time. I think the glossary is a useful introduction to Heidegger's masterwork.

If you have any comments or questions, please submit them in the section below. Note; this is a work in progress and only covers the introduction so far.

link: Heidegger's Being and Time, glossary of terms