I’ve use living plants and animals in my artworks and research. I always worked hard to make sure the fish and plants (and even bacteria) are happy during all these trials. After a year of living in an aquaponics toilet, my tilapia named Beefadou was adopted as a pet into a roomy new fish tank. Today I found out that the pair of Koi I used to bootstrap that system—which I later sold on Craigslist—are alive and well.
So far, I’ve been able to retire all the plants and animals used in all experiments. The fish all went to new homes as pets, and the vegetables got eaten. I would like to continue this in the future. I’m happy to get word that these two Koi, named “Mr. and Mrs” are still together. They always spent every moment with each other, and now are continuing to do the same. Here is an image of them in their new home.
When I was ready to switch to the tilapia, I thought of releasing these Koi into the wild. I’m glad that they became pets because they grew up with humans. Luckily I haven’t done anything weird enough to any of these life forms to preclude safe release into the wild. There is little chance of anything like the terrible frog fungus epidemic spread by laboratory frogs released into the wild happening in my case.
In conclusion am also happy to report that the snail I sold to the same people is reportedly bigger than golf ball now. It is the sole companion of a gruesome looking but congenial fish named Oscar who suffers from hole-in-head disease. I knew the snail would do well. I remember him when he was just a young transplant: a leader and good samaritan even in those days.
The other week was the most stressful week of my year, and I got a staph infection in my face. May started off so warmly and I didn’t realize what I set myself up for. I worked an intrigue-ruined job at an epically dirty factory. I had my final meetings with students. I defended at my second year review with faculty (I passed). I had to prepare renderings of the Vessel installation (TONY 2012 show) to send to the City Council and prepare for the following week’s meeting. All PHP applications hosted on my rented server got infected by a virus which resulted in Google black-listing several websites, including this very blog (and people couldn’t get Mobile Sauna content from the dsinstitute site either). Finally, I had to drive the vehicle pulling the still-to-be-registered mobile sauna on it’s maiden road voyage (see video here).
This was too much to do in one week and it had serious consequences on my physical and emotional health. Now I’m on antibiotics and recovering. To celebrate the end of the semester, I decided to slap together a short little video from cell-phone footage that was all shot on Thursday, May 3rd of said hell week. As you can see, the week was full of surprises. The video here is the best way I could pack the impressions of that day into a single unit. Have faith that the other days that week were at least this charged. The footage includes job related scenes as well as footage from an event I encountered when doing an installation site visit.
Adam Smith, the father of Capitalism, wrote about “The Invisible Hand”. The Invisible Hand is the functioning of a capitalist system, which would always bring good. Adam Smith imagined a well honed system of free markets plus enveloping democracy that turned people’s innate greed into productivity. I like the idea that some people are hungry and hire me to make their dinner and both parties benefit. But what if there is only a finite amount of food to be turned into dinner? In a reality of limited resources, the blind Invisible Hand hits a wall.
Jonathan Swift satirized this exact scenario in his writing on the Irish Potato Famine. The most shocking part of that actual historical event is that the Irish continued to export food while their population was dropping dead from famine! The “Visible Hand” is what is inevitably called in to clean up after the fervent workings of the Invisible Hand are complete. In the case of the Irish, the grave diggers together formed the thumb of the Visible Hand.
In the case of Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, NY, which was turned from a resort lake to the worlds dirtiest waste pit in the span of a 100 years, the Visible Hand takes the form of giant cranes currently dredging the lake. Honeywell’s externalities are largely to blame for the continuing mess, though the lake has indeed gotten a lot better. Nonetheless, the tons of mercury persist: 22 pounds of it was dumped per day at the nadir of industrial lake use. Corporations externalize risk by externalizing as many costs as possible. This is great for the share holders in the short term, but awful for the other stake holders (the community, the environment) in the long term. The externalities disappear off the record books and reappear smack dab in the middle of our lives.
Remember the time before the 2008 crash? The “Trickle Down” theory seemed somehow semi-real, at least in the form of that slightly bitter drip in your throat after the party at your financier’s friend’s Manhattan apartment. Today, as the economy sinks, corporations are evaporating way faster than the festering pools of externalities they leave behind. The Visible Hand is made of the thousands of Chinese people hired to paint pollen onto flowers to polinate them, filling in for the deceased bees. The Visible Hand is the conglomeration of crews and communities cleaning up and dealing with catastrophic oil shipping accidents that could have been prevented (Exxon Valdez Spill: captain was drunk). The Visible Hand are the people lighting their tap water on fire after they’ve signed their land over to Hydraulic Fracturing (‘Fracking’) projects.
In a Russian fairy tale from my childhood there is a whale so large that a whole city exists on it’s back. I am fascinated with the idea that the whale can do it’s thing and due to it’s sheer size never even feel the city. At the same time, the citizens of the city are going about their business, not even noticing that they are living on a whale! I haven’t seen such a beast as that whale in real life until I saw the bucket excavator. Is that thing really real‽ It looks like Dick Cheney’s steam punk fantasy nightmare. And if you look at it, there is even a little house on it! It looks like a fine family home, but how long can someone live up there? And why do they need to live on the excavator anyway?
Perhaps the bucket excavator is also a whale, swimmingly guided by that ever-determined Invisible Hand, mining dirty brown coal for us to burn for electricity. I don’t want to think about the kind of Visible Hand we are going to need to arm wrestle this bad boy. The bucket excavator symbolizes the mutability of the Invisible Hand, it’s slow but crushing fatalistic lexicon. But the bucket excavator is easy to pick on you might say, and other examples of apocalyptic machinations of State Captialism are probably more salient.
Take for example, the trucks Bloomberg just unleashed on the Occupy Wall Street protesters. The amazing sound weapons were used to bring the protesters to their knees do the bidding of the Invisible Hand, which by this point carries signs of gangrenous infections of government corruption. The fetid smell of a wormed-through congress, pampered by lobbyists and drunk on insider information, has swirled around the fingers of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. As we sit by and feel the Invisible Hand fisting our future, we may ask: is so-called “progress” evil?
Progress is great, and anyone who says that in order to stay competitive we have to steer clear of environmental regulations is probably someone who is not willing to face the true costs. People say that wind and solar energy would be competitive with coal if the price of coal reflected it’s true cost. Recent reports show that despite the economic downturn, CO2 production kicked up 5% in 2010. Global subsidies for the fossil fuel industry is being approximated at the astronomical levels of 400 billion. Yet, in the US the energy companies invest only 2% on R&D (as written about in a recent New Yorker magazine issue). Basically, that is almost nothing. We need uncorrupted regulation to wrap the uncorrupted free market and achieve a system that makes sense.
The current condition of Corporatism, or Statism, is fragile. The system claims to be doing it’s best: and like HAL 9000 it is apocalyptically wrong. The Invisible Hand, though it is festering with infected abscesses from bailout injections and bedraggled with engorged ticks of greed is flailing forward and shaping and re-shaping the world in it’s image. But the Visible Hand knows what the other hand is doing. The Visible Hand is inevitable. The Visible Hand will HAVE to do the clean up.
My friend needs to create a time-lapse of his laboratory setup. I already know that stiching image sequences together into a movie is straight-forward (using Quicktime Player 7 for example). But how to grab the stills at a certain time interval?
Using a new digital still camera with built-in time-lapse features is one way. Hooking up an intervalometer to a still camera is another method. But if you would like to use a software solution, you might be tempted to evaluate two programs: one called Boinx iStopMotion (priced at $50) and EvoCam (priced at $30).
Both of those programs have free trials available. I tested them out and found that both lacked the ability to record at the needed resolution: 2592×1944. My friend needs full resolution images of the setup to string into a compressed movie later. Boinx didn’t seem to want to grab images over 900 pixels in width. Evocam had a buggy preview mode, and didn’t want to grab anything taller than 1600 pixels in height.
Overall, EvoCam seemed liked it had more advanced features (grab an image when hearing a sound, upload an image to a server, etc) and was priced lower. I almost recommended it, but alas it couldn’t grab at the resolution wanted and I decided to write a Jitter patch. Here is the patch. It has a way to set the resolution and to adjust the frequency of image grabs. It dumps png images named with the timestamp right in the folder that the patch is in. If you don’t have Max/MSP/Jitter, you can run it using the free Max MSP Runtime from Cycling 74.
It was almost three years to the day that the Experimental Media Performing Arts Center opened in Troy, NY. EMPAC is one of the reasons I miss living in Troy. It’s an interesting venue that brings artists, performances, and installations into Troy and ends up pulling an audience in from surrounding cities. Back then I was part of LMNOPF, a multi-media performance troupe. My role was that of the video drummer.
I banged on a drum-kit from the video game Rock Band and the MIDI events triggered a video synthesizer made by David Lublin. This was the setup we used to back JUICEBOXXX when he opened for Madlib and J.Rocc. Checkout a good summary video of the night by Sebastien B. JUICEBOXXX had an 8-bit sound going for some of his backing tracks, so the video synthesizer relied on a disco color-scheme. Every hit of a pad revealed a new color bar, while the kick-drum advanced the color sequence to the next one. The amount of color bars on the screen increased as the performance went on. This straight-forward setup was perfect for JUICEBOXXX who was hot and bothered and running around on the floor with the kids. Here is a newly acquired video of a track and a half.
I am helping a friend out with a website. He wants to have a wordpress theme with a media content slider and he wants it to work on smart phones. I found that the two best sliders that handled images and video (AnythingSlider and WP_Slider Theme) had a bug when viewed on my Android HTC Incredible (Android 2.2, WebKit 3.1 Browser). I found that the bug is on the Android browser side, and created this quick and dirty patch of WP_Slider Theme to work on Android.
There seems to be a bug in Android phone browsers relating to overflow:hidden CSS property. The overflow property, when set to hidden on a div causes any elements that spill out of that div’s bounding box to be clipped and not shown. It seems that on my phone’s browser this breaks for videos. Youtube embeds, for example, float on top of everything even when they are supposed to be hidden.
Using jQuery and CSS selectors I found all the elements that are supposed to be hidden and set their visibility to hidden as well, which really hid them even on my phone. Here is the diff to WP_Slider Theme (generated with git) that shows my changes. I’m also including another patch which hides redundant commenting links in the theme. More specifically, the theme doesn’t differentiate between a first-time reply (first comment ever) link and a link to previously made comments. Other than that it is a fine theme, though if I end up using it I would tone down the graphics quite a bit.
I came home from Montreal after my talk at McGill to find my site and blog down. My DNS registry expired and the site was not reachable. I’ve corrected the issue, so hopefully the DNS upgrade will propagate soon and the site will be available for anyone looking for it. Sorry for that: it was a stupid mistake.
I’m trading web production for music production. Elias Gwinn, of Velidox, produces a lot of music. He is also a musician who lent his bass and percussion to the song that we recorded today. I’m excited to get a few music pieces recorded while I look over his shoulder and learn a bit about production.
I wrote this song in Syracuse as an homage to New Jersey.
Bridges and Tunnels – d2m1
Syracuse University has a campus-wide emergency broadcast network message system. The system allows SU to broadcast an alert message to the entire SU community on cellular networks (Voice, SMS), email networks, and probably others. So far, this system has only been used during tests. I’m struck by the naming though: SU Orange Alert. Why is it Orange‽
The only other Orange alert I know of is an alert of the United States Terrorist Alert system. Even as you read this, the USA terrorist alert level is Yellow, meaning elevated. It has elevated to Orange, or High, a few times in the past during dangerous times. Does SU only have one level of alert, Orange as in High?
What ads to the confusion is the fact that Orange is SU’s main brand color. It is a given that at any one time there are people wearing school colors (construction orange with a little blue) on campus. The high fluorescent quality of the orange used by the school is probably the brightest orange I’ve seen.
The Orange alert seems to be both an alert of danger and an alert of school spirit. Getting a text message from SU Orange Alert is like waking up in ancient times to an enemy attack warning trumpet blast by the city’s night watchman, knowing full well that there is no attack and that the watchman is probably just drunk and fooling around. When in test mode, the SU Orange Alert itself is the message, a jovial blast of vitamin-rich school spirit.
I haven’t seen the remake of Chicken Little that came out a few years ago. But I did just saw the original cartoon by Disney, and there is no way the new one can live up to this. In this cartoon, a fox uses Freudian psychoanalysis to fool all the chickens. Its interesting how the fox does its own PR even dressing up as chickens of the different social classes. This cartoon would be a great intro to The Century of the Self.