Monthly Archives: September 2009

DorkbotSF 47

Last night was DorkbotSF 47 at TCHO. There were three speakers, Timothy Childs, founder of TCHO, talking about how they quantify chocolate and make small testing labs for the Peruvian jungle; Michael Ang (aka Mang) showing off some of his work like Strange Attractor, artificial flowers to attract butterflies, and Blue Flower, yet another LED flower. The highlight of the evening though was Mark Pauline of SRL revealing his plans to build an 8 foot spine robot with a spike on the end. The evening was streamed, so definitely watch Mark’s critique of other spine robots that have been built. It’s around 51:00.

SRL Wants You!

Survival Research Labs wants volunteers. They’re looking for pretty much anything.

I saw an SRL performance at Zero1 back in 2006, “Ghostly Scenese of Infernal Desecration (Formally: Six Flags Over Hell).” It was very loud, and after the show, I dumbstruck. I remember walking back to the car thinking, “What the hell did I just see?” It was “interesting,” and I recommend it to anyone. (Video of the show after the jump.)

If SRL wasn’t in Petaluma, I would totally join.

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Score for a Hole in the Ground

Jem Finer, of The Pogues and the Long Player fame, project Score for a Hole in the Ground is a large horn erected in the middle of Kingswood, near the village of Challock in Kent, England.

Inspired by suikinkutsu, the input end of the horn is located in the middle of a large pit, that has been covered with a grate. As water falls into the pit, it strikes a series of metal pans. The sound from these pans is then amplified by the horn.

Unlike The Long Player, I don’t find this work a pretentious waste of time, because it is a complete composition. It pretends to be nothing more than what it is. A large horn in the middle of the woods. Conversely The Long Player is just an algorithmic looping of all permutations of some seed while people stand about clucking their tongues about the impermanence of man and the universe. It is the hipster Long Now clock .

I like the idea of walking through the woods, hearing some odd watery sound, following it to it’s source and being confronted with a rather large metallic horn jutting up from the soil. The visual incongruity of the unmistakably artificial blending in to the landscape reminds me of the Monolith from 2001.

If I had even a not so large wooded area, I would want one of these.

via Oddstrument

Your Typical Jumper

I’ve posted about my morbid fascination before, but today the Chron wrote about the demographics of a jumper. (Well actually, it’s just a press release from The Bridge Rail Foundation dressed up as news, but it’s fascinating none the less.)

The report, examines 15 years of jumpers, and answers some of my long standing questions about jumpers.

How many people travel from outside the Bay Area simply to jump?
83% are from the bay area, with just under half (49%) coming from Marin, Napa, San Francisco, and Sonoma counties. 6% come from outside of California, and only 3 (less than 1%) came from outside the US.

Follow Up Question: How does the 6% outside of the state compare with other popular suicide sites? Is the bridge truly a “suicide magnet?”

What does the typical jumper look like?
White (80%), Male (74%), Never Married (56%), 40 year old student.

In case you’re wondering: I’m against the rail and the nets. I think it will just move them behind closed doors and away from the tourists. Plus, there’s something romantic, and yet simultaneously incredibly selfish, about doing it in public.

The Ultimate Luxury Good

When I relaunched this, I kind of made a promise with myself that I would try to keep this to things I liked. “No rants,” I said; but somehow, I just can’t keep myself from sharing this.

Seth Godin pointed out that the difference between a luxury good and a premium good, is that a luxury good was priced beyond its utility, while a premium good commands an above average price, because it provides above average utility. A luxury good is meant to be conspicuous consumption. We are supposed to long for the diamond encrusted iPhone, simply because it is expensive.

With that in mind, I present you, Gläce Luxury Ice. Yes. Ice. Not even exotic ice, like dry ice, or anything. No. Just regular old frozen water.

In addition to the unsurpassed quality and peace of mind, Gläce Luxury Ice allows differentiation for those consuming a premium drink from those with less discerning taste. Gläce Luxury Ice is a symbol of status for those accustomed to the very best. Simply put, Gläce Luxury Ice will help your drink taste better, and enhance your spirits the way they were intended.

It also will may your dick look bigger for the paltry sum of $40 for 5 balls. That’s $8 per drink – for ice – one of the most ephemeral materials in the world. Good thing, it’s shown with a “premium drink” that I can get from my local BevMo! for $30.

via Laughing Squid by way of eyebeam