Friday, August 29, 2014

The 20 Best Sci-Fi Movies Of The Millenium So Far

A selection of the best science fiction films since the year 2000, voted on by proper experts!

20) Attack The Block (2011)
19) Minority Report (2002)
18) Pacific Rim (2013)
17) Star Trek (2009)
16) Avatar (2009)
15) The American Astronaut (2001)
14) The Prestige (2006)
13) Iron Man (2008)
12) Gravity (2013)
11) Donnie Darko (2001)
10) Under The Skin (2013)
9) Her (2013)
8) District 9 (2009)
7) WALL-E (2008)
6) Primer (2008)
5) Inception (2010)
4) AI Artificial Intelligence (2001)
3) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
2) Children of Men (2006)
1) Moon (2009)

Just a little video I made.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"I made up a dance so everyone will be happy."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Just so you know, this isn’t personal."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Stay. Out. Of my swing states.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday fun: misreading “took a hit” as “took a shit”

Literally minutes of amusement:

  • Chatham-Kent’s population took a shit in the latest census
  • Rio Tinto takes shit on aluminium division
  • Brown tax plan takes double shit
  • McDonnell’s agenda takes shit in Senate
  • Fabio Capello’s pride takes a shit
  • Traffic light takes a shit in the snow
  • Samsung takes a shit in Apple battle
  • Flacco takes a shit from teammate Reed

…etc, etc, etc.

Monday, January 30, 2012

DRONES not dogs

Recent headlines, edited to be from a near-future, with drones instead of dogs…

inspired by karl james’s #catsnotcuts.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

the fire in the control room

I read an interesting article in the Guardian before Christmas, called "A lack of physical symptoms makes depression harder to bear."

I thought the headline was pretty accurate, and this bit makes sense:

There is a certain luxury to indulging a bout of physical illness, quite absent from my experience of periods of depression, for instance. Lying in bed, with a mug of hot Lemsip, surrounded by tissues – and sleeping dogs – thermometer gratifyingly high, cheeks flushed for additional validation. (…) There’s something unarguable about physical illness. No need for justification. You’re ill. You need to take it easy. Nobody ever asks why you’ve got flu. Flu exists and you’ve got it. End of.

But I think the writer misses the key point when she says:
With mental health problems people want to know why. With physical illness it’s different. You’re ill. It’s not a question of choice. It’s the subjective nature of mental health problems – the lack of obvious physical symptoms, the lack of a measurable temperature – that encourages  self-reproach.
Rather than having demonstrative value to others, I think that the most important thing physical symptoms provide is a way to engage and grapple with illness. Physical pain has a location and a certain timbre that suggests a respective response. It’s enormously helpful, psychologically speaking.

Take a particularly sore throat. The first thing about it is, it’s your throat that’s sore. You can talk about it in the possessive. “I’m here, and among many parts of my body is a throat, and it hurts.” We’re already distanced from it ontologically speaking. That helps.

Next we can start thinking about how to respond to the pain. One type of response is to care, alleviate and tend to it. A soothing lozenge. Warm compresses. That sort of thing.

But perhaps a deeper desire is to combat, overwhelm and destroy the pain. If sipping a hot drink momentarily soothes the inflammation (or perhaps distracts from it with a more novel stinging sensation) then we start to fantasize about gargling with liquids even hotter, perhaps almost scalding, so hot it would utterly sterilize the pharynx and burn away the nerve endings and yes, yes, that might just work.

If you ever got chicken pox as a child, you probably remember being told “not to scratch” and let various ointments do their work. But the instinctual suspicion you probably harboured was that perhaps, just perhaps, you weren’t scratching enough. A bitter inkling that given the right abrasive material - a wire scourer, some extra-course sandpaper - and freedom from adult oversight, you could make a small piece of medical history and become the first child to scratch themselves back to health. “The itching,” the researchers would later admit, “did operate on the outer layers of the skin after all. And this brave young lad didn’t rest until every last fucking bit was mercilessly scoured into oblivion. Well done.” [1]

So the initial problem with depression is that it isn’t your anything that hurts, it’s you. There is no distance between you and the pain. Physical pain you watch and strategise about from a remove, like a captain watching blinking red ‘FIRE’ lights on the control panel of a ship and issuing commands in response. Now, without warning, the bridge itself is full of flames and choking, acrid smoke, and the heat is searing your very skin.

And because it’s here, so close, too close, you can no longer seek solace in the last resorts of expulsion and excision, which are the ultimate manifestions of the impulse to dominate and defeat the pain. You can shit and vomit out whatever you ate, a doctor can take a scalpel to your tonsils - but you can’t cut out yourself. Obviously. Right?

Right, of course, except we’re human, and the bloody-minded urge to kill pain at any cost doesn’t go away. Which is why, I think, even a short-lived and moderate attack of depression can leave someone feeling totally suicidal. It’s the same fantasy we had about scouring pads when we were itchy children, or gargling with boiling tea as throat-swollen adults. We know it’s not what we’re meant to do. We know it’s not what we’re really going to do. But goddamnit, for as long as the pain lasts, it’s all we’ll dream about doing.

- - -

[1] If that made you feel itchy, read this New Yorker article about two cases of incurable itching in the New Yorker. “I don’t normally tell people this,” she said, “but I have a fantasy of shaving off my eyebrow and taking a metal-wire grill brush and scratching away.”

Saturday, October 1, 2011

facebook timeline cover photos = the twibbon of 2011

a big huge space for a user to upload a prominent photo, without futzing with their profile pic proper? definitely going to see loads of charities (and let’s face it, brands) trying to convince people to put custom images up there.

i’m sure we’ll see it for meta-campaigns too…

great minds design their timelines alike

Loving the new Facebook timeline. Rargh!

But then

So now…

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Theories of International Politics and Zombies

Read this the other day after I saw it mentioned somewhere and just loved the idea. What do the competing theories of international relations have to say about a zombie apocalypse?

"Realism posits an eventual live-and-let-live arrangement between the undead and everyone else. Liberals predict an imperfect but useful counter-zombie regime. Neoconservatives believe that an aggressive and thorough military deployment would keep the undead menace at bay. Some constructivists would predict a robust pluralistic security community dedicated to preventing new zombie outbreaks and socializing existing zombies into human society.

However, bureaucratic dysfunction could trigger a total collapse in state authority. Public opinion and interest group pressure could make multilateral cooperation more difficult. And a norm cascade could trigger a world in which the biological distinctions between humans and zombies would be immaterial - everyone would act like zombies.”

You can read a blog-sized version of it here.

Godspeed You! Black President (The Making Of)

I made this Godspeed You! Black President streaming ambient apocalyptic audio thing. Here are a few notes on it.

Back during the 2008 U.S. election, which I followed obsessively, there was a fellow user of the Something Awful politics forum called “Godspeed You! Black President.” I thought this was a good pun (basically all my ideas are just puns) and put it in my ever-expanding list of “things that could be things.”

This is “The Dead Flag Blues” - the opening track of F♯ A♯ ∞ by Godspeed You! Black Emperor:

With such rich, apocalyptic vocals (“I opened up my wallet / and it was full of blood” - mmm, financial-crisisy!) it was instantly obvious what sort-of-thing the pun should be made into.

Then I promptly forgot about it for two years or so, until You Are Listening To Los Angeles came along, mashing up ambient music with radio chatter. And I was like “right, I should probably get on with making this thing.” Actually I had this other item in my bucket list:

So I became seized with terror that every single idea I’d ever written down but failed to make was about to created by other people. A motivating thought! (Actually I’d never really thought about police radio scanners, and thought I’d have to write and record all these crackly radio reports; and then the conspiracy/ARG fan in me thought they might subtly imply this unfolding mystery and you’d sort of have to wait around to hear another clue through the static and so on and so forth and so obviously it was never gonna get done.) Also Leila Johnston had been writing a lot about making things really quickly, which helped things along.

Anyway about 7pm I sat down to do it, this is how I did it:

The current beta version of Audacity (3.1.3) lets you batch process MP3 files. I used the first 14-odd MP3s from Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father’s audio book. Just set up a “chain” (I did “slow down” + “pitch down” + “save as MP3”, easy) and drag in the files. It spits out a folder of transformed MP3s. Nice!

In Garageband I cut out a few bits from the GY!BE album: the bits with vocals, the noisy train-station stuff, the long bits of silence between tracks, the happy-sounding bit at the end of Dead Flag Blues. Saved everything that was left to a different folder.

Then I had to make them play in a browser. I used JWplayer - you just put some files in your home directory and then you can use a plain old <embed> tag. To get the player to play a playlist of MP3s, you need a playlist file. I made one by dragging all the related files into VLC, then doing “Save Playlist…” which lets you create an XSPF file. Then I edited the XSPF files in TextEdit to change the file location of each MP3 from a local one (e.g: Users/Guy Parsons/Desktop/GYBP/BO/1.mp3) to their future internet location. (e.g:

I got so frustrated trying to make a <div> appear in the bottom-right-hand corner of the page I gave up, kicked it old-skool, and used a <table>. (That’s just a little trick I picked up back in 2002, ain’t no thang.)

And that’s about all there was to it - 7am the next morning, I hit publish. (The night time is really the only time to work, isn’t it?)