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Lidl are having one of their bike weeks - decent stuff dirt cheap, so if you need another pair of cleaty shoes or some shorts or base layers, pop in for a bargain.  And get lots of praline choc and eurosausage at the same time (I can't be the only one).

Me?  I spent all of twenty quid and have a shiny new bicycle

Well, half of one: a shiny new unicycle.  He needs assembly and a name.  The danger of reading Iain M Bank's Culture novels when you get a new bike is now becoming apparent: Rather than being called Eric or Boris or Lagavulin or Buckaroo, he's probably going to end up with a name like I Told You That Would Hurt.

Stop asking "can you actually ride a unicyle?" in the back there.  How hard can it be?  I've read the interwebs and everything.
andygates: (Default)
From Wired:  "Perhaps, instead [of better medicine], we should be trying to develop the best placebo possible, testing one placebo against another -- giving some subjects a placebo and others a placebo placebo -- in order to determine the very most convincing nonsense we can muster. I suspect that a few years from now we'll be getting glowing pills the size of walnuts, administered by doctors with monocles and German accents, because the delivery is so darn convincing we'll quickly get better."

The idea of a placebo placebo tickles me giddy.
andygates: (Default)
Now here's a fascinating article: The premise is that you can use Amazon's Mechanical Turk to argue with you.  If you're a nerdy reader, you'll already know that the Turk is an automatic job outsourcing engine: it passes small jobs to people who are paid small amounts for usually small efforts.  Newsworthy uses include the attempt to find adventurer Steve Fossett's crashed plane in satellite photos: a Turk user would get a photo, and the question "is there any wreckage in this picture?". 

What the author has done is ask the Turk to challenge his philosophical argument.  He's asked it for the one thing machines really suck at: an opinion.  And it turns out he got plenty, which makes me think that this could be a great way to, say, refine a thesis for logical holes, inconsistencies and oversights.  The best part is, he got good quality opinions for a dollar a pop, without alienating his friends or drowning in friendly agreement and Usenet-style argumentative biff. 

It's still a funny creature, the Turk, but this is a novel use that makes me smile.  Now, I don't just have to listen to the voices in my head.
andygates: (Default)
Interesting article in Wired today about the way that the Japanese manga market handles self-published fanfic, dojinshi.  Despite having the same sort of copyright law as the West, the manga publishing houses turn a bit of a blind eye to a huge dojinshi industry existing, as one publisher says, in the space between canon and public and connecting the two.  It keeps the paying public interested, and seeds new talent because self-published artists are, by definition, passionate about what they write. 

It doesn't seem to pollute the canon, either, which maybe shows "lie" to some of the twitchier Western franchises who seem to hate fan-work and menace efforts like the Phantom Edit with lawyers and take-down guff.  Gods know how they'd respond to a slashed-up Marvel fanwork or Jessica Rabbit getting futa on Betty Boop, let alone Jabba/Leia squelch.

Once a thing enters the public domain, you lose control over it.  If it's good, people will play with it - be it Lego bricks or the X-Men.  Hell, even in gaming, a good NPC can grow legs and walk out of your inventory into someone else's love triangle (or massive gambling debt, Oleg, that'll do).  So even though you can protect the piece, you cannot lock down the ideas and that's good.  Some of the most interesting, fun and thought-provoking comics are the one-shots (I'm so looking forward to Ash vs X-Men).  The can suck too (Transformers: Hearts of Steel, say) but hell, so can canon.

It's as if the media industry wants to create strong memes, but memes which only replicate once, in the sale from publisher to consumer.  Replication restriction makes weak memes.  What they're creating and trying to control is too damn slippery for that.  If it's good, it's got legs. 

Creative types: How do you feel when someone does something unexpected with your work?  Are you in the "heh, cool" camp or the "no, that's just wrong" camp?  Do you think your views would change if it were published in the traditional way?
andygates: (Default)
A cultural observation that's at least a year late: leekspin.com.  Open up that leek-spinning girl and her Finnish gibberish loop, go on.  I wonder if Loituma sound as charming in the rest of their stuff?  Now you've got a soundtrack for the rest of this rambling...

Cunning science thought: Hawking radiation is what you get when a spontaneous particle-antiparticle pair appear across an event horizon.  Imagine for a moment that the cosmic horizon - that limit to the observable universe - is an event horizon.  Turns out that if you calculate the energies involved, they're a near match for dark energy.  Only... I thought the cosmic horizon was an artefact of the observer, being just the point at which the expansion of the universe reaches the speed of light.  My head hurts.

In other news, Wired has a good article on what it calls "Your outboard brain" - the colossal mass of stuff we know when we're online.  I'm a damn expert online, but an opinionated arse offline, so I grok this.  The article stops short of examining the philosophical implications of calling this an "outboard brain".  The human consciousness is just one of a bunch of processes bubbling around in our inboard brains.  What's going on in this outboard stuff that we may not be aware of?  And if you buy into the memetic model of information, it's even weirder: the outboard brain is an inevitable development, once the inboard one reaches capacity you need more memespace or you're just not as sexy as the other guy.  But this is shared memespace - which I think means that Wikipedia and Google are the collective unconscious.  And it means that a large portion of my memespace is actively being thought-in by other people.  The Singularity may already have happened.  Crumbs.

Still listening to the leek girl?  Excellent.
andygates: (Default)
...surprisingly, from Keira.

It's in Domino.  Domino is so bad it's good.  I cite Christopher Walken (a ferret on crystal meth) and Tom Waits (was his desert preacher even real?) cameos and quotes like, "We need hostages. Celebrity hostages."  The movie is genius: it's The Core to Lock Stock's Armageddon.  Keira is hilariously miscast.  But I digress.

Domino Harvey, whose posh Mum has moved her to the States hunting husbands, is being inducted into a college sorority.  The hazing begins in movie hyperbitch style, with the freshers forced to strip and having every physical defect highlighted to drunken jeers - cellulite, bad pants, the works.  Queen bitch gets down the line to young Domino and asks, "What's it like, having the body of a ten-year-old boy?"

And Domino breaks her nose.

Because sometimes that crap really isn't to be tolerated. 
andygates: (Default)
I've just learned of a thing called a Masters of the Universe Skeletor Breakfast Burrito.

My poor little mind is reeling.  Please, Americans, tell me it isn't so.  It sounds like a triumph of food technology and marketing over common sense, decency and all things right and proper!
andygates: (hellboy)
The internet is aflutter with images of this woman, a French newsbody called Mélissa Theuriau.  I'm sure you'll already have been spambarded by people sticking her clear, balanced, symmetrical visage across your screens with various flavours of squee attached.  Tritalk have her in the Phwoar! thread; other places have OMGZ I <3 Melissa!!!! froth.

Can I be alone in crying out "Uncanny Valley!" ?  She's too damn pretty, she's a robot or an angel or CGI or something in a dream sent to steal my odd socks! Flee! Flee!

Just when Halle Berry was starting to age and show some decent (and indeed likeable) human traits, this damn creature has to come along.  The world just isn't safe. 

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