TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Away for Easter


Image Source: Z. Scott / We Invent You.

I will be away from the blog until May 7 due to other work demands.

Image Source: Z. Scott / We Invent You.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Living in the Past, by Millennial Choice


Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse lives by choice in the year 1938 as much as possible. Images Source: Yahoo.

Dutch Gen Xer Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse runs an Amsterdam-based historical consultancy, HAB 30-45, which provides advice about everyday life from 1900 to 1950. You can see their Flickr album from the work they do here. Teeuwisse also has chosen to live in conditions from the 1930s as much as possible. From Yahoo:
In a small apartment in the modern center of Amsterdam, Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse parties like it’s 1938.
The owner of a historical consultancy company, Teeuwisse, 41, lives her work, forgoing most modern belongings and conveniences of the 21st century in favor of a life straight out of the 1930s.
“The only modern thing I have in my house is my computer; I need it for my work,” she said. “I also have a modern fridge, but only because I haven’t found a nice 1930s one yet and they no longer deliver ice for ice boxes.” ...
“As a student, my house was a mix of all sorts of old things, but slowly I started to focus it all and eventually I decided to just go for it and aim for the lifestyle of a lower-middle-class woman in Amsterdam in the late 1930s,” she said. “I felt right at home.”
Her favorite year, specifically, is 1938, because in addition to being a great example of the time she loves – the “golden age” of architecture, design, fashion and movies – it was also before the start of World War II and Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands.
In her apartment on the second floor of a building constructed in 1918, Teeuwisse lives with all the “modern” amenities of a 1930s woman. She describes her space as “a typical working-class house with a front room, back room, bedroom, ‘wet room’ (bathroom) and kitchen.”
The cozy apartment is filled with Dutch furniture from the 1920s and 30s, with a fireplace and radio and no television. ...

Even the way Teeuwisse keeps house is old-fashioned.
She runs a 1920s vacuum cleaner over the rugs, and washes the floors with vinegar, scrubbing on her hands and knees. She does all her laundry by hand using a washboard, a block of soap, bleach and a brush – “the smell is lovely,” she said. ...

“I just started doing it as an experiment to see what it was like, to learn about the past, and then I realized that I liked doing it that way and saved lots of money, that it was better for the environment, and that I didn’t have to put a big ugly white metal or plastic noisy box in my house,” Teeuwisse said, referring to modern appliances like washers and dryers.
Teeuwisse spends many of her mornings getting to know neighbors, going to a flea market in her neighborhood with her dogs and chatting about “the good old days” with seniors.
But because she has a company to run, she also spends part of her day with her laptop, doing research, “so that part is not very 1930s,” she said. However, she does use a Bakelite phone, introduced in 1931, instead of a cell phone to conduct business.
And when the workday is done, she spends her evenings listening to old music, reading magazines or books, or playing board games with friends.
“And of course sometimes I have to darn stockings,” she said.
Despite all this, Teeuwisse said she’s not particularly nostalgic. After all, she didn’t live through the era she mimics.
“I combine the best of the past with the best of the present to create a new tomorrow,” she said. “I don’t hide from reality. I do not pretend it is the 1930s. I do not ignore what goes on in the modern world. In the end, it is just a lifestyle.”
One might say that the way Teeuwisse has generated publicity with her time pocket lifestyle shows considerable Millennial media savvy. See more images of Teeuwisse and her apartment, filled with 1930s' furniture and books, below the jump.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Anniversaries: Start of the Rwandan Genocide


The Rwandan machete pile. Image Source: Iconic Photos.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide, when, in the course of 1994's bloody summer, nearly 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu people were killed. 80 per cent of the population massacred the remaining 20 per cent of the country with machetes. In most cases, the killers personally knew their victims and were their neighbours. The knives were sold by the Chinese to the Hutu government at ten cents apiece, for an estimated total cost of USD $750,000. The genocide ended on 15 July 1994. (Warning: explicit images below the jump.)

Lost Cities: Kowloon Walled City, the Faux and the Real



From Yahoo and WSJ Live, a retrospective on Hong Kong's infamous Kowloon Walled City, which was demolished 20 years ago:
The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was once the densest place on earth, a virtually lawless labyrinth of crime, grime, commerce and hope. A Wall Street Journal documentary tracks its colorful legacy 20 years after its demolition.
For nearly a century, Kowloon Walled City was a gang-ruled place of low rents, no licences or taxes, drug trades, brothels and illegal dentists. Somehow, it gained further mystique because it sat across the street from an international airport, and landing jets notoriously scraped just over the slum's rooftops. The fascinating culture of this city-inside-a-city has been represented across eastern and western pop culture in video games, mangas and movies. Known as the City of Darkness in Cantonese, it particularly resonates with depictions of gritty urban landscapes in the 1980s and 1990s, and served as an inspiration for Ridley Scott's futuristic Los Angeles in Blade Runner. It recently inspired designers of Gotham sets for the British-American movie, Batman Begins (2005). City of Darkness Revisited notes only two films were actually shot inside the real Kowloon Walled City (see a clip of footage from the real city shown in Bloodsport below the jump):
only two films were actually shot within the confines of the Walled City, the Jean-Claude van Damme vehicle, Bloodsport [1988], and the far superior Johnny Mak film, Long Arm of the Law [1984]. In fact, the Walled City and one of its alleys only make a short appearance in Bloodsport, when the Jean-Claude character and his Chinese minder are making their way to an illegal fighting venue supposedly located there.
An interior facade reveals the city's staggering honeycombed character, built up without any architects. Image Source: La boite verte

 

 

Images Source: Greg Girard see more of his photos of the real Kowloon Walled City here. Other photos of the city are here and here.

Former inhabitants testify to Kowloon's tight-knit society:
"We all had very good relationships in very bad conditions. Even now, many people stay in touch with each other even though some old friends are overseas," Shum said. "People who lived there were always loyal to each other. In the Walled City, the sunshine always followed the rain."
Such is the nostalgia for this grim yet fascinating slum, that Japanese business interests have built a reproduction of Kowloon Walled City as an arcade and theme park south of Tokyo (see the theme park's main site here). The development blog, here, insists on historic faithfulness ("all materials produced from the scratch"; "real garbage from Hong Kong were sent by parcel"). HuffPo:
Kowloon Walled City, an infamous now-demolished Hong Kong slum, is enjoying new life as a three-storey Japanese arcade and theme park just south of Tokyo.
David Gilbert, a digital product manager, posted photos of the Kawasaki Warehouse on his blog, documenting stunning details of the resurrected Walled City – in all its dark and rusty glory – save for hints of modernity in its restrooms.

"The juxtaposition of a high-tech Japanese toilet in an authentically grimy bathroom had to be seen to be believed," described Gilbert.

Set designer Taishiro Hoshino, the mastermind behind the arcade theme park's time-bending alchemy, paid close attention to details from the actual slum city.

Hosino and his team examined photographs and video of the Walled City, retraced Chinese calligraphy on signage, tracked down Hong Kong mailboxes, balcony bird cages, and reproduced its neon signs.

Striving for full authenticity, he even persuaded a friend in Hong Kong to mail him her family's trash.
"I was later told that they were totally confused about my request," explained Hoshino in a detailed "Behind The Scenes" post on his website.
This development echoes other odd Millennial efforts to transform famous ruined (and not-ruined) locations of the 20th century into 21st century entertainment centres - a tourist-industry trend notably evident at Chernobyl and formerly-shuttered asylums and prisons in the United States. More images of the original city are below the jump.

The outside facade of the Japanese Kowloon Walled City theme park, which has been artificially aged and grimed up.  Image Source: HuffPo.

More images from Japan's faux Kowloon Walled City theme park, complete with faux brothels, fake open air meat markets, real Hong Kong mailboxes which were shipped to Japan as props - and grimed-up toilets, whose conveniences are actually clean and hyper-modern.  Images from HuffPo.


 





One of the meticulously-created Japanese faux-Kowloon mock-ups. Image Source: Hoshinogumi

"A slight departure from the theme park's authenticity, those wishing to leave must walk through a red-lit hexagon passageway, stepping over stones set over an illuminated pool toward a circular ying-yang door." Image Source: HuffPo.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Timeline of the Far Future


Click on the image to enlarge. Image Source: BBC.

The BBC has posted a timeline of the distant future, which includes the assumption that almost all buildings now standing will have collapsed by the year 3000. By that time, the BBC hypothesizes, all words from present-day languages will also be extinct, given the current rate of linguistic evolution.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Graveyards are a Girl's Best Friend


Disraeli's grave at Hughenden Manor, with his wife on one side and an elderly widow friend on the other. Image Source: Flickr.

People have to hustle to make a living and Britain's famous and flamboyant prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) was no different. In the 1860s, his standard of living had mired him in debt. He turned to a wealthy old lady, Sarah Brydges Willyams, a confidante known to him since 1851. From the Bodleian Library:
Mrs Sarah Brydges Willyams was a wealthy octogenarian widow who claimed to be distantly connected to Disraeli. She befriended him in 1851, made him her executor and legatee (he eventually inherited about £30,000) and left instructions about her burial at Hughenden. The Disraelis visited her annually at Torquay. In the second half of the 1850s Disraeli wrote over 30 letters a year to her.
You can read more about the "romantic attachment" which the old widow "conceived" for Disraeli here. Brydges Willyams agreed to clear Disraeli's debts. She made one condition, to which he agreed: she would be buried next to him, and lie beside him for eternity.

Visitors to Disraeli's grave at his home, Hughenden Manor, who do not know this history may be surprised to find Disraeli buried with his wife on one side and an old widow on the other. Wiki:
The Disraeli vault also contains the body of Sarah Brydges Willyams, the wife of James Brydges Willyams of St Mawgan in Cornwall. Disraeli carried on a long correspondence with Mrs. Williams, writing frankly about political affairs. At her death in 1865, she left him a large legacy, which helped clear up his debts.
Incidentally, Disraeli's wife, Mary Anne Lewis, likely understood this arrangement, since she was also a wealthy widow with a substantial income, whom he married in 1839; she remarked: "Dizzy married me for my money. ... But, if he had the chance again, he would marry me for love." It's no new story, paying off today's debts with the debts of tomorrow.

- Thanks to my friend -C. who heard this story via the Antiques Road Show

Friday, April 4, 2014

Anniversaries: First Cellphone Call Made


Image Source: Think Geek.

The Globe and Mail reports on the first cellphone call made in history, which occurred yesterday in 1973:
Moment in time: April 3, 1973 -- The first cellphone call is made

Martin Cooper ... a Motorola employee, was standing in front of the New York Hilton in Manhattan when he called [his rivals] Bell Labs in New Jersey, where scientists were also developing cellphone technology. "I'm ringing you just to see if my call sounds good at your end," he reportedly said. It would take another decade for the phone he was using to go on sale. The DynaTAC 8000x weighed 2.5 pounds, stood nine inches tall (not including the huge antenna), took 10 hours to charge and cost $3,995. It was nicknamed "the brick" because of its weight and size. Now, we carry the future Cooper brought us in our pockets. -- Dave McGinn

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Time and Politics 11: Lessons in Crypto-Anarchy



Does the predominance of the Internet mean that we can, and will, live in a great, stateless society? On 12 March 2014, BBC's show HARDtalk interviewed Cody Wilson, Gen Y enfant terrible of 3-D printed gun on the Web fame, about the rise of crypto-anarchy.

Wilson expresses a perspective coming from a generation that has grown up without reference points outside of technological immersion. HARDtalk interviewer Stephen Sackur's uneasiness was evident. Wilson displayed cheerful enthusiasm and faint condescension as he dished out life's tough new truths for HARDtalk's viewers, whom he obviously presumed were out of the loop. Wilson was eloquent, voluble, intelligent, and not nice at all. Or perhaps he only meant to appear that way. He has had a media makeover over the past year; for all his disdain for the MSM, he loves publicity.

Wilson dismissed 20th century liberal values as a catechism of control, murder and inefficiency, a grand moralistic delusion which enables state, social and economic oppression. He off-handedly referred to Obama as a "grocery clerk" (in a sly nod to Kurtz's dialogue in Apocalypse Now, Coppola's 1979 version of Heart of Darkness). Wilson's aside spoke volumes: how far will he take us up the river? As far as he - and we - can go. He was giggly and laid back, but make no mistake: he was deadly serious.

Photo of the Day: Military Exercises


Image Source: Twitter.

Newsweek reports: "South Korean landing craft run gantlet of fire & smoke during military exercises with the U.S."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Do Google's Killer Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?


Image Source: Google.

Google, free host of this Blogger blog, has always had wild things going on behind its friendly search engine face. Follow Google's history carefully, and you learn how a search engine, gathering the behavioral data generated by its users, can be the key to a whole information-driven reality. You also learn how technological developments layer one upon another, with each new functionality enabling the next. And therefore, as Bill Gates has said: "People tend to overestimate what can happen in the next year but underestimate what can happen in the next five." That is why, when Google buys a company or develops a new capability, we should ask: where is Google going?

The company's informal motto is: "Don't be evil." Wiki:
Paul Buchheit ... the creator of Gmail, said he "wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out", adding that the slogan was "also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent."
Gen Xer Astro Teller, Google’s Director of New Products, declares that we must override our linear expectations when we try to understand technology's potential:
"If something rides the rails of exponentially improving computer and data capability, and if its benefits are sufficiently powerful, it is likely to happen – whether we can imagine it today or not."
In other words, something Google may do that seems innocuous or incongruous compared to its latest mainstream developments (like its contact lens glucose monitor) can turn out to be essential to tomorrow's integrated technologies. Lately, Google's trail of breadcrumbs leads into a dark forest. From driverless cars, to offshore barges - to Google's immortality app, Calico; from poaching academia's brightest minds to Google Glass; from setting up an e-money system on the back of Google Glass, to crowd-sourcing medicine - to buying killer robots? (Hat tip: SCGNews.)

Promo for development of Google's banking capabilities, using Gmail's user base with Google Wallet and Google Glass: "OK, Glass, empty my bank account." Will Google develop its own cryptocurrency? Image Source: Quartz.

Remember Boston Dynamics? Under a DARPA contract, they have made some of the world's most terrifying weaponized robots (at least, among the ones known to the public), modeled after successful predator species: BigDog, WildCat, Cheetah, SandFlea (which can jump over 9 metres in the air) and Atlas (a real Millennial Terminator robot). In December 2013, Google bought Boston Dynamics. According to the CBC, this was the search engine's eighth robotics company purchase in the past six months, and Google's strategy here relates to the exploration of sensor technology:
CBC business commentator Kevin O'Leary, chair of O'Leary Funds, said Monday that the strategy makes sense, given the majority of "smart and new money going to startups today" is targeting sensor technology. "These robots are basically a bundle of sensors," he added. "What Google is doing here is simply buying a company that's extremely advanced at writing software to interface with sensors."

Lovecrafted Meta-Bible



What do you get when you cross the King James Bible with the Necronomicon? Entertaining surrealism! British sci-fi writer Charles Stross used King James Programming - a modified Markov chain which semi-randomly combines texts - to mash up the KJV Bible with the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft  (Thanks to -C.).

Stross called the output the Lovebible. The desert themes and environments which dominate the Bible mesh well with Lovecraft's obsession with ancient knowledge and water monsters. It is an elemental marriage of texts, weirdly bred on the Internet:
krina:markov charlie$ ./lovebible.pl 2> /dev/null 99820 lines, 821134 words read from king_james_bible.txt 16536 lines, 775603 words read from lovecraft_complete.txt About to spew ...
--- the backwoods folk -had glimpsed the battered mantel, rickety furniture, and ragged draperies. It spread over it a robber, a shedder of blood, when I listened with mad intentness. At last you know! At last to come to see me. Now Absalom.
the absence of any real link with that of 598 Angell Street was as the old castle by the shallow crystal stream I saw unwonted ripples tipped with yellow light, as if those depths of their rhythm. The training saved them.
the bed, and make thee borders of gold with studs of silver. 1:12 While the case histories, to expect. As mental atmosphere. His eyes were pits of a hundred and fifty shekels, 30:24 And he laughed mockingly at the village summoning.
the commandment of the room; then this. If this thing. 25:1 If he had no way to turn either to the coyote - or to something was wrong. Marsh and Marceline represents. I am strong. 26:16 I also in me. 14:2.
the ghouls, whose utter strangeness and their backsliding, I will love him, and have redeemed them, yet thou never gavest me a people: 8:11 And I said unto them, and I believe that the king doth behold the upright. 33:2 Thus.
the gleaming sand, bobbing lanterns. The Philistines be upon thee, and because the famine in the heart proceed evil for Israel, with hesitancy, and which I had known it, to himself, he said, How shall depart from his house. 7:2 That. the results we learned that no harm him, and rent it. 7:22 My face again no not to inform me, even all the heads of the unutterable consequences. It could tell, it thunders. The thing came out of Egypt. Who knoweth.
the grass-grown line on the glassy, phantom bones. 50:18 Therefore the children of Israel dedicated the sea, diverse and I hung an air of the war, to rest in my brother for nought, and the counsellor, and the cunning workman, and.
Song of Solomon. Chapman and Hall (1897). Image Source: Cary Collection, RIT via Manifold Greatness.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Maturation Expiration


Annie Leibowitz's Peter Pan photo composition, with Mikhail Baryshnikov as Peter Pan, Tina Fey as Tinker Bell and Gisele Bündchen as Wendy. Image Source: Business Insider.

As lifespans have extended, so has the age of emotional maturation. Evidence for this fact is more than anecdotal. A 2013 British study of male psychology found that new generations of Peter Pan men now finally reach emotional maturity at age 43, eleven years after women, who emotionally mature by age 32.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Amazon Delivers What You Will Buy Before You Order It


Coming soon. Image Source: Amazon via the Daily Mail.

On Christmas Eve of last year, Amazon filed a patent for anticipatory delivery. You can read it here. The Irish Times explains how microdata and personal branding have intersected so exactly that Amazon expects that it knows what you want before you even know you want it; it will purchase the item you want before it occurs to you to purchase it, and ship it preemptively:
The online retail giant now wants to start shipping items to customers before they have even ordered them. Taking the buying process to the next level, Amazon has developed a system that pre-emptively delivers goods to customers based on their previous purchases.
The company believes it can predict shoppers’ needs so precisely, that it wants to have a package in transit to them, before they have placed the order.
The e-commerce juggernaut has obtained a patent for what it calls “anticipatory package shipping”, a system whereby the company anticipates buying habits and sends potential purchases to the closest delivery hub, waiting for the order to arrive, or, in some cases, even shipping directly to a customer’s door.
According to the patent filing, items would be moved from Amazon’s fulfilment centre to a shipping hub close to the customer in anticipation of an eventual purchase.
“In some instances, the package may be delivered to a potentially interested customer as a gift rather than incurring the cost of returning or redirecting the package,” the patent reads.
“For example, if a given customer is particularly valued (according to past ordering history, appealing demographic profile, etc), delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill.”
Amazon says the system is designed to cut down on shipping delays, which “may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants.”
In deciding what to ship, Amazon said it may consider previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping-cart contents, returns and even how long an Internet user’s cursor hovers over an item.
See other reports here and here. As Amazon walks an insidious line between psychological intrusion and arrogant clairvoyance, not one word is said about how intrusive and manipulative this is. The patent doesn't say it, but presumably the anticipatory ordering function will also reflect Amazon processing previous buyers' personal information on social networks. Imagine if this concept, or something like it, was used by other businesses. Is a convenient service really worth so much? Why are all these initiatives accepted so passively by the public, with no regard for their larger implications?

Amazon additionally seeks to undercut the competition in shipping by setting up drone deliveries which will ship your order in 30 minutes or less. The drone program is called Amazon Prime Air. The program has a few years of R&D to go; it also has to pass Federal Aviation Authority regulations in the US. But on 7 March 2014, the Daily Mail reported that a transport judge recently dismissed a fine enforcing an FAA ban on commercial unmanned aircraft in the US.

One friend, C., on hearing this, expected that people will shoot the drones down, steal their packages and sell the contents on eBay, hence completing a near-perfect Internet Circle Of Life. In the meantime, sit tight and await the drones. Below the jump, see the drone package delivery promo video.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quote of the Day: Kim Dotcom


Kim Dotcom launched his site Mega in January 2013. It's now worth NZ$210 million. Image Source: Toronto Sun.

German-Finnish Internet enterpreneur Kim Schmitz aka Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload and Megaupload's successor site, Mega, thumbed his nose at authorities yesterday on Twitter. From the Toronto Sun:
Kim Dotcom, one of the world's most wanted cyber fugitives, on Tuesday gloated over a deal that will see a cloud storage firm he founded while on bail listing on the New Zealand stock exchange and valued on paper at NZ$210 million ([CAD] $200.7 million).
The flashy internet mogul, who also goes by the name Kim Schmitz, is fighting a bid by U.S. authorities to extradite him from his lavish estate in New Zealand to face online piracy charges over the now closed file sharing site Megaupload.
The New Zealand government in early 2012 arrested Dotcom at his mansion near Auckland in a SWAT-style raid requested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Dotcom is free on bail as he fights extradition although his movements are restricted.