Unilateral Binding Declaration on the Content and Character of 2011

Preamble:

Following is a unilateral binding declaration on the content and character of 2011, hereafter referred to as the “New Year”.

Whereas 2010 was a pretty good year, marked by personal and professional growth,

Whereas moving to two blocks away from work has yielded a large amount of time and mental energy,

Whereas the conference SIGGRAPH was attended by self for the first time,

Whereas hobbies in 2010 were particularly fruitful, with photography becoming part of my job,

Whereas several ambitious and productive professional projects were undertaken, including learning Houdini, teaching the Linear Workflow, and learning and teaching Arnold,

Be it acknowledged that 2010 is a tough act to follow.

Notwithstanding, the content and character of the New Year will adhere to the following.

Continue reading “Unilateral Binding Declaration on the Content and Character of 2011”

Captain’s Blog: Frontier Psychiatry

Mission Date: 0 years, 231 days

UN Mission Command has been alarmingly silent on the the events of last week. I suppose this is protocol, until they have a solution they don’t want to worry us. At least I imagine that was the thinking when whatever contingency plan they’re following was written, but in the meantime their procedural consideration for our psychological states is driving us insane. Best thing to do is ignore it, because up here our highest priority has to be figuring out why everyone on board is so miserable. It is ultimately our problem.

I’ve been meeting with Dr. Saratoga, ship’s head psychiatrist. She says the problem is that everyone on this ship is disgusting filthy racist, and a narcissistic egomaniac to boot.

Some background. When choosing from candidates to crew of the UNSS Ennui and be the future colonists, there were several important criteria: They had to be able, willing and ready to have children, be a distinguished and successful professional in a field useful to the colony, and have passed a thorough screening for mental illness. Some self selected characteristics (found in anyone who would volunteer to be a colonist) are a lack of close friends, family, spouses or children, and a degree of impulsiveness.

I think Group G needs to get over A
I think Group G should get over A

Maybe you’re getting the picture. The ship is full of self-absorbed workaholics whose biological clocks are becoming increasingly prominent parts of their personalities. They think the only reason they haven’t yet started happy families is because they haven’t met any equally “serious” people. What do you think happens when these people are confronted by thousands of other people exactly like themselves and confined in a ship with them?

The mirror is very unkind.

Our population is a rich tapestry of statistically enforced and algorithmically maximized genetic and cultural diversity, which leads to the second half of the problem. Have you ever done a calculation of how many single people of the opposite sex, who are roughly your age group, who you find attractive and would find you attractive, and not currently in relationships exist in the population of, say, your city? Well that’s your city, where the cultural gap between you and other people is somewhat limited by geography.

Dr. Saratoga has teamed up with statistician Dr. Minoh and computer modeler Dr. Hakeem to identify 200 unique cultural groups that are only willing to date within two or three other groups in any significant numbers, and over 500 smaller groups that absolutely refuse to date outside of their own group. The largest group, about 7% of the ship’s population, is the group who will only date in a cultural group other than their own. While this group has the shortest relationships on average, they also have the most and are (so far) the happiest. We’ll see how they do over time.

For everyone else, once all criteria has been factored in, for the average person the number of acceptable mates is fewer than three people.

I’m not even considering the possibility of sending these findings to UN Mission Command.

Captain Richards out.

Captain’s Blog: Blue Marble

Mission Date: O years, 224 days

We’ve hit a milestone today! Due to complex nature of gravitation slingshots, we’re passing Earth for the second time today, more than half a year into our journey. Today’s flyby is much faster than the last. About half of the crew gathered in the observatory to watch it fly by over the course of about fifteen minutes or so. Truly a majestic sight, passing between the moon and earth. At these speeds you aren’t able to judge distances, the planet doesn’t feel any further away than a mountain on the highway. It’s the last time any of us will see the blue marble with our own eyes. Simply breathtaking.

Maybe I should get some introductory stuff out of the way. I’m the captain of a colony ship en route to Alpha Centauri, the UNSS Ennui. It should take roughly eighty years to get there, which makes this a generation ship. I, however, fully intend to still be alive when we arrive to bring humanity to the stars!

Aside from our last flyby, an odd thing happened today. About 15% of crew members called in sick, and another 10% simply didn’t show up for duty. Normally I’d be concerned about some sort of space-plague, but we have a sort of explanation: over the last two days, every last one of our escape pods has gone missing. When about half of them were gone, security was ordered to put the remaining pods under guard. Now all of the pods are missing, along with a disproportionately high number of security personnel.

Oddly enough, none of this would have happened if anyone had read the memos. Our velocity in relation to the Earth was very, very high. Far higher than the delta-v escape pod thrusters can achieve. This was all in a crew wide communique, which apparently nobody reads. Apparently nobody payed any attention in the mandatory orbital mechanics classes either. I think there may at least be a silver lining for the eventual human population of Alpha Centauri, in a Darwinian sense.

I need to decide what to tell the remaining crew members. Since this was our last Earth flyby, we don’t need to worry about this happening again. What we do need to worry about is keeping morale up. Which explanation for their disappearance would be worse for your personal morale, that a large number of your coworkers escaped successfully, or that all of the escapees certainly died and the beautiful meteor shower you witnessed this afternoon in the observatory was thanks to their sacrifice?

I think I’ll go with space-plague.

Captain Richards out.

Collected writings of disease

A few things that’ve been percolating nicely in the drafts repository.


It hurts where I LIVE

You know you’re retarded sick when your eyes hurt. That’s right, retarded sick. I’ve been sleeping all day, my nose is stupid red, an entire roll of toilet paper is crumpled up into little wads next to my bed, and my body can’t make up its mind what temperature it wants to be. Right now I feel hot AND I’m sweating, a rare bit of consistency from an otherwise barely functioning wreck of a thing. Too high, you say? Well fuck you, body. You wanted it hot, and that’s what you’re going to get you son of a bitch.

I catches me off guard that I can’t talk. If you go a good 12 hours without speaking to anyone it suprises you when you try and find you can’t.

It occurs to me that this might seem like I’m begging for pity so let me explain how my life is still better than yours.

a smile and an erection

First off, location, location, location. I get to be sick as a dog in NYC. If there were a place in the world to not be able to enjoy, NY is the one you’d get the most non-enjoyment from. The awesome job I’m staying home from, and that isn’t paying me while I do, is also awesome.

The one time I left my house today I went to the grocery store and bought about $25 of canned soups. Why? Because my mommy isn’t going to make soup for me on account of being thousands of miles away. She doesn’t even have to know I’m sick. You know what freedom from parental nagging tastes like? It tastes like Progresso Vegetable Minestrone. High in saturated awesome.

So don’t cry for me Argentina. The truth is I wrote this months ago and I’m healthy as all fuck now. The cans of soup that once filled my cabinets are a distant memory, and instead of a painfully dried out mouth in the morning I wake up to a smile and an erection.
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I feel so Brokencyde

They say there’s nothing new under the sun and in the normal walks of life and art, it’s true. But in certain cases it falls apart as little more than a flimsy, laughable tautology.

There’s nothing new about art that’s so bad it invokes a combination of rage and laughter. The moral terror that accompanies the mental justification for forced sterilization camps set up specifically for fans of this music – is not special. The self evident fact that somebody spent money promoting this and the heinousness of such a cynical exploitation of those so unfortunate to be totally unendowed with any sense or taste, that’s happened before. The comparisons to Hitler that inevitably follow are also of little consequence. So if I tell you that what has been found is something new and special, I want to impress that I don’t mean something that’s just bad in any conventional way.

Well, this is new. This is special.

For this to have been done before, in the Renaissance there would have had to have been someone running around stealing the worst statues he could find, smashing them into little pieces, throwing the pieces into a bucket full of tar and trying to sell the hardened lump as art. And this couldn’t have been some postmodernist statement about how beauty sucks, it would have to have been an honest attempt at making a statue. And people would have had to like it. I feel completely justified in saying the world has not seen the likes of this before.


“Mankind’s ability to outfail itself boggles the mind” – Some genius on Vimeo.

The problem should be obvious. Freaxxx by Brokencyde is a laundry list of everything wrong with music, where every component could ruin a song on its own, and the failure is as deep as it is widespread. What’s interesting is that the idea of a song that does everything wrong isn’t new. In the late 90s a scientific project was undertaken by scientists Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid, along with composer David Soldier to do exactly that.

Hundreds were surveyed to find out which instruments, themes, styles, singers, lengths of songs and anything else are most and least wanted in music. They found people don’t like opera, rap, bagpipes, banjos, jingles, songs about cowboys, holidays and patriotism, children’s choirs, and that the optimum length for a song is about a few minutes, so David Soldier set to work. What was created is a twenty-five minute song that incorporates all of this and more. It’s called “Most Unwanted Song”, and it is wonderful.

 

I think there are a number of crucial differences between these two works.

  • Brokencyde is not competent. Brokencyde combines everything bad about music incompetently, while David Soldier combines the most disliked parts of music extremely competently. There’s a difference between bad kinds of music and disliked kinds of music. In the survey nobody mentioned the sound of pots and pans falling down a flight of stairs, despite that one would think people would find such a noise more objectionable than bagpipes. The pots and pans could have easily ended up in Brokencyde’s effort, and probably would have if any musician in the last ten years had successfully employed them.
  • If Brokencyde were competent it would still be offensive. Aside from every aspect of this song being annoying in a juvenile way, it incorporates high school “my differentness saddens me while my sadness differentiates me – it’s a vicious cycle” whining with “acquisition of bitches via unmeasured application of bling” materialism and misogyny. Even if you aren’t offended by either of these constituent parts, you must be offended by the combination. I consider this a sentience test.
  • The failure extends much further than the music. Brokencyde’s lead singer has named himself Se7en. I guess he liked the movie. Another band member’s name is Antz. I think he’s the drummer or something. Anyway that’s cool, I like cartoons myself. Bitches, like the shirt says, do indeed get stitches. I counted at least three different times in the video when the screaming kid seems to choke on it. The video was clearly produced by other people, but it seems the failure spilled over and twisted that into its own inexplicable combination of terrible ideas as well.
  • Brokencyde contains no opera-rap about cowboys. Do all your shopping at Wal*Mart.

The system works!

Why are the watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors eye-keeper-oners break-room-lunch-thieves still hungry?

Jonas:

maybe we need to autoinvestigate all governors all the time

McGrue:

Who watches the watchers?

Who makes steve gutenberg a star?

Jonas:

the watchmen watchers watch the whatchers

what

was

wat

McGrue:

Who watches the watchmen?

The watchmen watchers watch the watchmen.

Who watches the watchmen watchers?

The watchmen watcher watchers watch the watchmen watchers.

Who watches the watchmen watcher watchers?

The watchmen watcher watcher watchers watch the watchmen watchers.

…Which watchmen watcher will we watch?

Jonas:

Who watches the watchmen?

The watchmen overseers oversee the watchmen.

Who oversees the watchmen overseers?

The watchmen overseer auditors audit the watchmen overseers.

Who audits the watchmen overseer auditors?

The watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors scrutinize the watchmen overseer auditors.

Who keeps an eye on the watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors?

The watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors eye-keeper-on-ers keep an eye on the watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors.

Who eats the watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors eye-keeper-on-ers’ lunches in the break room?

The watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors eye-keeper-oners break-room-lunch-thieves eat the watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors eye-keeper-on-ers’ lunch.

Why are the watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors eye-keeper-oners break-room-lunch-thieves still hungry?

The watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors eye-keeper-oners started ordering in.

What are the watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors eye-keeper-oners ordering today?

The watchmen overseers auditors scrutinizors eye-keeper-oners are ordering oh I don’t know lets get Thai since we had pizza twice last week and there’s a new place I want to try.

To whom it may concern at the ACLU

There’s been a grave injustice and I don’t know who else to write to to get it resolved.

You see, Ben recently gave me a user name and password to contribute to his blog. A triumph for free speech, at first glace. But once I began to write some well researched prose about why evolution is wrong and how Harri Krishnas were responsible for 9/11, I noticed that I didn’t have a “publish” button. Instead, I had a “Publish Pending Review” button.

As Ben well knows, we do not practice prior restraint in this country. I cannot abide being censored by an unchallengeable authority such as “McGrue”. I’m sure you agree serious actions need to be taken to remedy the situation immediately.

Furthermore, the free exercise of my religions is being impeded, as a central tenet of my religion is that I’m always right and everyone else should be forced to listen.

He also may have impeded my second amendment rights when I tried to shoot him.

-Jonas

PS: Also the preview button didn’t work the first time I clicked it, and as a result I feel like I’ve been forced to quarter soldiers in my house.