Saturday, June 29, 2002


coming up on the happy birthday canada long weekend and i'm busy writing a chapter of my dissertation. but at least i can justify spending the day scrounging through the nettime archives... missed this earlier and am glad i found it. can anybody give me a really clear explanation of code aesthetics?

Friday, June 28, 2002

i taught guys like this for a year...

i just got a call from the national police association asking if my business would like to sponsor a police campaign to ensure that young offenders are more severely punished for car-jacking. an absolutely fascinating young officer described to me why a young offender should serve 8-10 years in adult prison. no rehabilitation ("it's not possible for most of them, ma'am...") just punishment. he wanted a world where young people have "respect for authority" and he used china as an example of efficiency in punishment. he deeply believed in teaching kids harsh lessons and giving them a "healthy fear" of authority. and he was equally convinced that this would make a better world for "all of us." on a related note, more than $300 million was spent "protecting us" from the G8 protests in the last couple of days and nothing happened. all i know for sure is that i am not part of this "us"...

not a national science

here's to changing the academy, one step at a time. i'm one of those people who actually believes in the nobility of scholarship, of spending a lifetime trying to understand and explain your piece of the puzzle by connecting it to other pieces. but i also believe that the academy is, by and large, a (reprehensibly) conservative institution. and so i will probably spend the rest of my life trying to change a space i love...

just back from a meeting in montreal which has renewed my faith in the ability of a few good people to create something really meaningful (and useful). hats off to collaborative online spaces and to "changing the way research is done."

rob and julie: for moving us further away from a national science, you owe me a beer ;)

Wednesday, June 26, 2002


fucking hectic day!

Tuesday, June 25, 2002


i was supposed to give some software training today but there were server problems and now here i am at home again... but the trip was worthwhile because i got to start the day by embarrassing myself. and all because i am a gadget whore with cheesy taste in music.

in order to psych myself up for the day, i was riding the elevator in a government office listening to pat benatar really loud. (i miss napster... and love my mini-disc player.) i was the only one in the elevator, so i didn't notice that i had been singing out loud until the door opened and i was met by 6 people pissing themselves laughing. apparently they had heard me coming for several floors. not bad, until you think about what i was belting out: pat f***** benatar! heartbreaker, to be more precise.

You're the right kind of sinner to release my inner fantasies
The invincible winner, you know that you were born to be
You're a heartbreaker, dreammaker,
Love-taker, don't you mess around with me
You're a heartbreaker, dreammaker,
Love-taker, don't you mess around, no no no

it's true. i suck. but consider this: when i was in grade six i saw joan jett on stage wearing a bikini and combat boots, with the word SLUT written in lipstick across her belly. she was screaming "do you wanna touch?" and any guy who reached out to touch her got a swift kick. the original riot grrl - she was the coolest chick i had ever seen! and although pat benatar is not nearly as cool, she really impressed me around that age too. all the girls around me were stuffing their bras and acting dumb to attract the boys in class. that game seemed pointless to me and i needed different role models...

but it's a gorgeous afternoon and i'm going to sit on my deck and work on a site map...

Monday, June 24, 2002

sweet nothings

i have a bunch of contract deliverables this week but at least i get to go to montreal for a couple of days... civilised country where smoking isn't a crime. after work is done, i'm off to tour hexagram's interactive textile and wearable computing lab. yippee!

damn! the simpson's just started and the gay pride parade was brilliant! craig - when are we going to work on my coffee-table book? or at least lobby for the 24 hours-a-day simpsons television network?

Saturday, June 22, 2002


jason tried to get me to go see spiderman yesterday but i mumbled something about too much work to do. when he got home and told me about it, i realised i should have gone.

super-heroes are cool, and not just because they have super-powers and super-outfits. super-heroes can embody beautiful aspects of the human spirit. it's a burden to be a super-hero, what with all that responsibility... and probably very lonely...

Friday, June 21, 2002

trying out tools

special thanks to scott, who spent several hours with me yesterday explaining why the map i have been trying to make is so bloody difficult. combination and permutation formulas put my list of variables in the 3 million range...

string theory basics: bosons are particles that transmit forces and fermions are particles that make up matter. supersymmetry means an equal matching of bosons and fermions, and a supersymmetric string theory is called a superstring theory. only two types of superstring theory deal with open strings (the kind i'd work with). bosonic string theory can cope with open strings, but since fermions are excluded, it uses tachyons or particles with an imaginary mass. and you can only use bosonic string theory if the spacetime dimensions number 26. type I string theory uses spacetime dimensions of 10, and requires supersymmetry between forces and matter, with both open and closed strings, no tachyon, and where group symmetry is SO(32).

so where does this leave me? string theory moves too close to "universal" theory. too much containment and stabilisation. too much "proof".

i've moved on to topology... i met sha xin wei from georgia tech last month - responsible, in part, for t-garden - and his topological media lab really impressed me...

Thursday, June 20, 2002

more mobiles

interesting 1998 article from mechanical engineering, art historian joan marter's "The Engineer Behind Calder's Art".

and i just finished reading "Reproducing works of Calder" in The Journal of Visualization and Computer Animation, May 2001, where the authors argue that "mobiles, or moving sculptures, such as those designed by Alexander Calder cannot be reproduced realistically by photographs and/or static images. The real characteristics of mobiles come from the motions generated by interactive external forces applied to their structures. Hence people could not fully enjoy them through static images or even static three-dimensional models. We present a virtual mobile system where users can easily control the mobile and can feel the impressions that the artist originally intended to provide. Virtual winds are generated by blowing on a microphone which then exert external forces to the mobile. This microphone interface lets users control the mobile while they are watching it through a monitor. We introduce a linear time solution for the constraint dynamics and an improved impulse dynamics to speed up the simulation. Using these techniques, we achieve a real-time simulation of the mobile on personal computers." hmm...


finally broke down and watched "black hawk down" last night. war movies are a strange genre, and they always make me cry. after getting past the propaganda (growing up in south america taught me to be very wary of US military operations) i actually enjoyed the movie. i am totally in love with helicopters. one day i will learn to fly for real, but in the meantime i wish flight sims had the visual quality and sense of movement of film. the shots of those choppers flying over the beach were beautiful. and the grace with which they crash is astounding (okay, probably not according to the people killed...) all in all, they are sweet machines. (and let's not forget to thank ridley scott for making sure that those soldiers were so damn good looking...)

Monday, June 17, 2002

so happy together

check out robin and howie's web site. i have no idea who these people are, but...

Sunday, June 16, 2002


damn funny privacy policy. and this site is lovely.

world on fire

i've known a breed of guy that fetishises petite women. and my mother, an amazon goddess that looked liked linda carter, always said that small and delicate women were the most beautiful. when i wear modest pumps, i am five foot eleven. i'm busty and hippy and anything but fragile-looking. i look like my mum. when i was little, i would look up at her and see the world on fire.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

thank you

"You gotta love someone who can say "interpellations" with a straight face. A lot of fascinating thought going on here, especially here. Good luck on your Ph.D., Anne Galloway, whoever you are..." Adam Greenfield at

check out and adam is senior information architect at razorfish tokyo.

although, for the record, i actually can't say "interpellations" with a straight face... i've just come to enjoy seeing people's eyes glaze over at the mention of my research.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

committee meeting

i'm off this morning to a phd committee meeting. i'm expected to be on top of a shit-pile of information and for the past three nights i have had extraordinary dreams/nightmares about my body being invaded by nanobots and my flesh extended by goat-secreted spider silk. it's all weirdness.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

the nuge

ted nugent is a really weird guy. i'm too young to remember him as a rock star, although i can conjure 'cat scratch fever'. what fascinates me about the nuge is that he swears, as a devout christian, that he has never done drugs. yeah, whatever. and as a raving conservative, he also sits on the board of the NRA. but mostly i like him because he is a serious bow hunter.

i grew up in a house with guns, and although i am really against everyone carrying, i have no problem with firearms in general. i've known lots of subsistence hunters over the years, and plenty of target shooters. guns don't scare me in the least. but i have also known trophy hunters and they really piss me off. not only do their houses look like (un)natural history museums, but they think it is 'sporting' to kill closed-range animals with high-powered rifles or, worse yet, automatics. i always wanted to see how tough these guys are when some crazed animal is bearing down on them and they only have a stick. poachers also suck.

and so, back to ted nugent, bow-hunter extraordinaire. bow hunting is sporting. it takes incredible skill and patience, and is predicated on humility and respect for nature and animals. short of killing an animal with bare hands, this is as fair a fight as possible. i can respect that.

amy benfer, at, interviews the nuge about his new cookbook 'kill it and grill it'. this is where the guy's sense of humour shines. i'd go to his place for a bbq.

on another note : world's largest ant colony found in europe. "The colony is 3,600 miles long, stretching from the Italian Riviera to northwest Spain. It consists of billions of Argentine ants living in millions of nests that cooperate with each other. Some ant colonies can achieve a cooperative effort which allows them to work as one single unit, and in essence, one being."

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

lonely student

man, this sucks! i can't find anyone who wants to listen to me talk about intelligent fibres. i've been reading so much lately on material science, biotech, nanotech and intelligent systems that i think my brain might explode. science and engineering papers are pretty dry but there's no pissing around, and i can dig that. i'm facinated with the development of spider dragline silk. this stuff is way stronger than steel but is really hard to mass produce. spiders can't be farmed like silkworms because they are territorial carnivores. so people have studied the spinning mechanisms and chemical composition of spider silk, identified the DNA sequences for the proteins, genetically engineered goats to secrete these proteins in their milk, and then isolated the proteins and machine spun them into thread strong enough to stop a bullet. what a crazy process. and then there are nanofibres in which all sorts of receptors and nanobots are embedded, and they can be woven directly into our flesh as bioprosthetics. i really hope they get artificial skin right - not because i want a "real" robot, but because i've always thought that severe burns are horrifying and it would be nice to give people back their skin. i may be a fetishist of the mind, but i strongly desire the flesh. also: MIT and the US military are hard at work on superfibres in the field of "soldier nanotechnology." adds a new dimension to arms acceleration.

Saturday, June 8, 2002

trials of life

ever hope that the universe might arrange itself in your favour, even if just for a few days in an interesting place? so many possibilities, so few chances...

anyway, it's a gorgeous afternoon perfect for drinking cold beer on the deck... maybe for the rest of the day i will pretend i don't have a dissertation to write...

Thursday, June 6, 2002


i bought a sexy, slinky dress yesterday and am forced to admit that my winter insulation needs to come off. thank god for kickboxing and three-chord punk rock.

it's great who you can meet through work

at you can find john stevenson's blog and much more. i am particularly taken by hacker/culture and essays on the state of the net circa 1995.

Wednesday, June 5, 2002

call me a sucker

i dunno what it is of late, but i am such a sucker for cheesy love songs. this morning's favourite : semisonic's f.n.t.

Fascinating new thing
You delight me
And I know you're speaking of me
Fascinating new thing
Get beside me,
I want you to love me
I'm surprised that you've never been told before
That you're lovely and you're perfect
And that somebody wants you
Fascinating new thing
The scene-makin'
Want a temporary savior
Fascinating new thing
Don't betray them
By becoming familiar
I'm surprised that you've never been told before
That you're lovely and you're perfect
And that somebody wants you
I'm surprised that you've never been told before
That you're priceless and you're precious
Even when you are not new.

power to the people

it's a shame that ottawa doesn't have more graffiti - it would really improve our public spaces. in the 16th century ladies could buy attractive glass-cutting rings to scratch on window-panes. i've always wanted to know what they wrote...

Monday, June 3, 2002

serenade me

zoe recently got me thinking about blogs as reified confessions, and i continued to think about intimate technologies...

here are the lyrics for a song that was written for me in 1991.

to think that life (i could be love)
was meant today
(i could be the only thing that you're dreaming of)
i speak in tongues (i could be greed)
i hear in code
(i could be the only thing that you ever need)
i feel despair (i could be touch)
i feel inspired
(i could be the hand on your flesh that you crave so much)
like talking to a ghost...

i found the time (i could be age)
but lost the pleasure
(i could be the tears of shame or the shouts of rage)
i burned the manor (i could be need)
but built desire
(i could be the smallest spark in the tiny seed)
i don't use language (i could be word)
i don't use names (made into flesh)

welcome to easter island
the crossroads await your choice
put your hands together for billy mandelbrot
please don't touch the rocks

Sunday, June 2, 2002

weird shit

help wanted productions : unusual instrument and recording equipment gallery and j-list have all sorts of weird shit.

Saturday, June 1, 2002

computer voices

been playing with readplease - choose from several (rather unnatural sounding) computer-generated voices and their associated pictures (also kinda weird). copy and paste in your preferred text, then sit back, find your groove, and let the machine talk you through it.

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