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Honey, The Smartphone Ate the Kids: Comic yet chilling illustrations of our social media world
09:25 am



Well, we knew this was going to happen. We were warned often enough but did we listen? Did we heed the warning given out in episodes of The Outer Limits, Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, innumerable B-movies and books from H. G. Wells to Stephen King? No, we thought we knew better. We were having way too much fun to even think about what we may be mortgaging for getting all those likes on Facebook and all those followers on Instagram and Twitter. We were only in it for the LOLz.

Then one day, our life’s all used up and we’re part of the machine. It’s no fun anymore but still we can’t help checking our feed, tweeting our food and liking every fucking picture of a grumpy-looking cat. WE are the pod people sci-fi warned us about! Like OMG!

Artist Kristian Jones produces neat illustrations of children and families whose lives have been taken over by the technology they use. His figures look like the characters once found in children’s stories who are now transported to a strange, surreal science-fiction land where technology snoops and insidiously steals away their very life force.

Jones is a self-taught artist based in Birmingham, England. His work which has been featured in galleries, magazines, posters and a clothing range “depicts our relationship with the modern world”: a surreal and twisted form to highlight the problems with modern day living, preying on the innocence of childhood imagination, surreal worlds and fictional creatures.

Jones’ illustrations are funny and chilling. We recognize his point but know the same was once said about television and radio, or cinema and leisure time—where the Devil was always making work for idle hands. Technology is neither good nor bad—it’s all about us and how we use it. Jones is wise to this too and has in one picture Old Nick leading a group of idle carefree kids on a merry dance to Hell, while in another a boy peers into his tablet just like Narcissus who was smitten with his own reflection.

He is also part of the Brothers of the Stripe collective of illustrators and graphic designers. More of Kristian Jones’ work can be seen and purchased here.
More of Kristian Jones’ work, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The sexy ladies of Yugoslavian computer magazines
09:19 am



“Ignore the sex slave tumbling out of my monitor, it is a standard feature with this brand of personal computer…..”

The Serbian word računari means “computers”; thus Računari was the natural name for a long-running periodical in the Balkans catering to software and hardware enthusiasts in the burgeoning age of the “personal computer.”

It’s hard to remember now, but while Apple was getting all the critical plaudits, most workplaces considered their devices too esoteric and expensive for scaled use—back then it was Windows and IBM clones that got all the love and money, and most of the programmers designed their offerings for the MS-DOS market. Nearly forgotten today, names like WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Visual Basic once constituted core components of the consumer computing landscape, and they all were featured prominently in Računari. That’s why you won’t see much attention paid to Apple products in these images—they had to weather the tough decade of the 1990s before resurfacing with the iMac and beyond.

It’s often been observed that Sarajevo went from being a proud and prosperous Olympic host city to one of the most hellish places on earth in the short span of time between 1984 and 1994. The end of the Cold War around 1990 brought unimaginable horrors to Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia, and it’s worth noting that Računari, which started in 1984, never went out of print during all of that tumult, persisting through to the late 1990s. So it is that these otherwise mirthful images have a darker story to tell, of consumers seeking out computing products during a bloody civil war and the advertisers and retailers wishing to serve them. 

The editors of Računari surely were well aware that their product sector was a little on the dry side, so they spiced up most every cover with a sexy lady draped over this or that piece of mechanized future landfill. As you’ll see, some of the images get a little bizarre, but hey, all the better to get those copies moving off of the newsstand and into your living room, right?

“I am the Windows 3.1 go-go girl…..”

“We hope this bizarre bondage scene incentivizes you to purchase WordPerfect for Windows.”
More fun with Balkan computer cheesecake after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
New human organ discovered by scientists
02:23 pm



Leonardo da Vinci described it, but it took until a few years ago for scientists to begin to take seriously the possibility of an organ in the abdomen that had not previously been classified as one—just a couple months ago, two biologists have declared it to be an organ according to the prevailing standards of anatomy, and it looks like their claim will likely stick.

The new organ is called the mesentery, which is Latin for “in the middle of the intestines”; unsurprisingly, it can be found in the middle of our intestines. Until around 2012 it was thought to be a series of separate structures keeping the intestines attached to the abdominal wall, rather like a series of support girders.

In the November 2016 issue of The Lancet, Calvin Coffey and Peter O’Leary from the University of Limerick published “The Mesentery: Structure, Function, and Role in Disease,” which purported to examine “distinctive anatomical and functional features” that “justify designation of the mesentery as an organ.”

The classical anatomical description of the mesocolon is credited to British surgeon Sir Frederick Treves, surgeon to Queen Victoria, in 1885, three years before he became the first man to perform an appendectomy in England. If that name is familiar to you, it might be because he was featured as a character in Bernard Pomerance’s 1977 play The Elephant Man as well as the 1980 movie directed by David Lynch (Anthony Hopkins played Treves in the movie).

Coffey and O’Leary used complex microscopy work to confirm that the relevant structures of the mesocolon are in fact interconnected, in other words part of a single overall structure. The mesentery has now been added to the famous Gray’s Anatomy textbook and described in this new paper.

In a statement, Coffey asserted that “in the paper, which has been peer reviewed and assessed, we are now saying we have an organ in the body which hasn’t been acknowledged as such to date.”

A decade ago or so, laypersons the world over became outraged at the subtraction of Pluto from our solar system on the grounds that it was too small to be counted as a planet. One hopes that those same people will take solace in the addition of an organ to our bodily systems.

via IFL Science!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Get ready for Amazon’s creepy and marvelous floating warehouses of the sky
09:18 am



As we churn into the bracing new era of Trump and Brexit, one of the big themes to look out for is automated process replacing jobs that used to be done by humans. This has already begun, of course, but it looks like the next few years are going to be pivotal ones in the coming of a future leisure-oriented paradise or our inevitable domination under the control of Skynet, depending on how you look at it.

It is also becoming clear that Amazon is going to be a major driver of these processes. Amazon is known to be aggressive about narrowing the time gap between product order and product delivery, including mechanisms such as drones delivering products directly to Amazon Prime users’ doors.

In line with that, Amazon has been awarded a patent for warehouses that float in the sky (as “dirigibles”) and dispense unmanned drones carrying items directly to users. This is simultaneously a great development for Amazon’s many users, who will soon be able to expect instant gratification of its materialistic desires, and an ominous portent of a world without employment for many of its human beings.

As Arjun Kharpal of CNBC phrased it, the patent is for “a giant flying warehouse that acts as a launchpad for drones to deliver items within minutes.” The warehouses could potentially hover at an altitude of 42,000 feet (this is similar to the altitude that planes usually fly), although they could also be positioned much lower, under certain circumstances.

The patent filing was awarded in April of this year but only circulated recently. Just a couple of weeks ago Amazon successfully completed its first delivery by drone to a paying customer in the U.K.

U.S. Patent 9,305,280 bears the title “Airborne Fulfillment Center Utilizing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Item Delivery.” In it a process is described of floating warehouses in the sky, called “aerial fulfillment centers” or AFCs, dispensing potentially many thousands of delivery drones, or “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs), to its users. That Amazon’s depiction of this system involves blimps, zeppelins, or dirigibles, however you wish to call them, may bring to mind certain texts or utterances of Jules Verne or C. Montgomery Burns.

Amazon’s patent aggressively imagines a world in which “items may be delivered within minutes of placing an order,” thus providing (in a phrase Amazon uses un-ironically that is also pretty much the bumper-sticker summation of capitalism writ large) “near instant gratification.” The ability to have warehouses floating around in the sky would also expand Amazon’s ability to deliver “perishable items or even prepared meals.” In other words, Amazon is positioning itself to be in direct competition with Domino’s and Uber Eats.

The background section of the patent describes our current system of retail delivery, using the soon-to-be-archaic method of a “human controlled truck, bicycle, cart, etc.” delivering items from a “ground-based building,” culminating in a familiar scene in which “a human may hand the item to a recipient, place the item on the user’s porch, store the item in a post office box, etc.” It is rather chilling and (almost?) hilarious how easy it is to make our everyday lives sound like a bizarre scene out of sci-fi novel.

“An unmanned aerial vehicle delivery process that utilizes an airborne fulfillment center”
Later on, the patent continues: “An airship, or dirigible, is a type of aerostat or lighter-than-air aircraft which can navigate through the air under its own power. ... An AFC may be positioned at an altitude above a metropolitan area and be designed to maintain an inventory of items that may be purchased by a user and delivered to the user by a UAV that is deployed from the AFC.”

A few paragraphs later, the patent gets positively feverish about the many benefits the system of airborne warehouses will provide:

The use of an AFC and shuttles ... provides [a] benefit in that the AFC can remain airborne for extended periods of time. In addition, because the AFC is airborne, it is not limited to a fixed location like a traditional ground based materials handling facility. In contrast, it can navigate to different areas depending on a variety of factors, such as weather, expected demand, and/or actual demand.

An AFC may navigate to an area based on various positioning factors. For example, a temporal event (e.g., a football game) may be expected to produce a demand for certain types of items (e.g., sporting paraphernalia, food products, etc.). In advance of the event, the items may be delivered to the AFC in a quantity sufficient to satisfy the expected demand and the AFC may navigate to a position such that the UAVs deployed from the AFC can safely navigate to the location of the event and deliver the items, thereby satisfying the demand. In some implementations, the AFC may navigate to a lower altitude and provide advertising for the temporal event or for other occasions (e.g., product announcements, product releases, sales).

It was widely reported earlier this year that the advent of automated trucking (obviously, a related industry) could easily result in the disappearance of millions of U.S. jobs in a relatively short time. (Truck driver is the #1 occupation in all 50 states.) As a society we are still happy to demonize government “handouts” to the jobless, and we just are not prepared for this shit. It seems inevitable that some form of universal basic income will be necessary sooner than anyone is expecting.
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Website plays William S Burroughs reading random snippets from ‘Naked Lunch’ every time you refresh
08:44 pm



It’s axiomatic that William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch is one of the landmark accomplishments of 20th-century American literature. All the more striking its author’s commitment to stochasticity: He insisted that its 25 chapters could be read in any order. (A later Burroughs novel Dead Fingers Talk from 1963 took random bits from Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded and combined them into a new work with a semi-coherent plot.)

Possibly related was Burroughs’ disavowal of any fixed memory of composing the work. In his 1960 preface to the book, titled “Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness,” Burroughs wrote that “I have no precise memory of writing the notes which have now been published under the title Naked Lunch.”

In a most Burroughs-ian gesture, this year a “single-serving” website calling itself 23Skidoo came into being, with the promise of supplying readers with “23 random paragraphs from Naked Lunch” every time the refresh button is activated. The reader is invited to take in the newly forged juxtapositions while the inimitably phlegmatic voice of Burroughs reads from the work.

Curiously, in keeping with the general air of experimental mindfuckery, the Burroughs audio never matches the passages reproduced on the page, at least as far as I could discern. I believe that there does not exist any recording of the full novel read aloud in Burroughs’ voice—sometime during the 1990s, Hal Willner and James Grauerholz persuaded Burroughs to record portions of the book. So that might explain the discrepancy—the visual texts draw from the entire novel, but there are limitations as to how much of the book can be presented in Burroughs’ voice, so no attempt was made to match them up.

At the top of the page one sees the instruction “the ticket explodes again each time you load the page.”

At any rate, a fun, bracing project, perfect for distracting oneself from the holiday bullshit, or indeed any form of bullshit. Enjoy.

via {feuilleton}

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
I was a 15-year-old Billy Corgan impersonator
02:53 pm



Before the “World Wide Web” became a thing and only AOL and CompuServe existed for games and chat rooms, Sierra On-line (the software company responsible for such classic adventure games as King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry) developed a highly imaginative and groundbreaking environment known as The ImagiNation Network. Initially launched on May 6th, 1991 as “The Sierra Network,” this friendly, graphics-heavy interface was so simple, advertising promised that even your grandmother would find it easy to “play games, make friends and have fun.” As a teenage computer geek I was instantly hooked after being introduced by my friend Brad Warner and spent hundreds of hours using the service: running up my parents credit card bill, holding up my families landline for several hours at a time, and experimenting with fake profiles when the internet was so new that you could effortlessly fool just about anybody.
Before entering ImagiNation you’d use the FaceMaker to create your appearance choosing your skin color, facial features, glasses, clothes, and hairstyle. There were enough variables built in to create over 84 million unique personas. Then you’d walk through the virtual gates and let the fun begin: Red Baron, Mini Golf, Paintball, or Boogers in SierraLand. Gambling at the casino and exchanging lewd late night talk in LarryLand (for adults only), or slaying dragons with strangers in MedievaLand. Before anybody had heard of an email address there was a post office where you could purchase “Sierra Stamps” and send messages to other users.

Through a alternative music chatroom, I befriended a cool 13-year-old Korean girl from Houston named Judy Suh who had purple hair and owned an electric guitar. We both had tickets to see the Smashing Pumpkins headline Lollapalooza ‘94 in our respective cities that summer and agreed to share our photos from the concert. Technology had yet to find a way to share photos on the internet so we made photocopies at Kinko’s and snail mailed them to each other.

In 1995 Judy suddenly disappeared from the ImagiNation Network without a trace, a few weeks later I found out that her parents banned her from using the service after running up their credit card bill. At that time the pricing structure was incredibly expensive: $9.95 per month for only 4 hours plus $3.50 for each additional hour, or $120 a month for unlimited time. Shortly after that my parents also banned me from the service because I was using their dial-up modem and holding up our six person household landline. Friends and family members complained that they received a busy signal over and over for hours and were furious when they couldn’t get through.
Heartbroken, and not yet ready to give up my addiction I took to desperate measures to get back on-line. I went over to Brad Warner’s house with a floppy disc, found the directory where his password file was stored and successfully copied it into the same directory on my computer enabling me to sign onto ImagiNation with Brad’s account. This illegal and back-stabbing act gave me so much confidence that soon I wanted to know what else I could get away with. I began secretly signing on late at night after my parents went to bed. Using the FaceMaker to create a new persona, I started posing as Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan. I had read every Alternative Press, SPIN, and Melody Maker interview that had been published up until that point and felt strongly that I knew enough about Billy Corgan that I could convince people that I was him. The April 1994 Rolling Stone cover story I purchased at Sam Goody proved to be a particularly detailed profile and helped me understand Billy’s troubled childhood and upbringing in a time before background information on celebrities was easily accessible on websites like Wikipedia. I was successful in fooling dozens of fans: answering questions from growing up in Glendale Heights, Illinois, to D’arcy Wretzky’s sisters photography on Smashing Pumpkins single covers, to dispelling rumors that I played the little brother on the TV show Small Wonder. After about a week I was called out for falsely claiming that the Mike Mills who played piano on the song “Soma” off the album Siamese Dream was not the same guy as the bassist from R.E.M. My cover was blown.

Soon after I was outed as an imposter by the ImagiNation community I received a call from Brad who wanted to know why there was a message from Chris Williams in his virtual Post Office box. I had forgotten that I reached out to Sierra On-Line founders Ken & Roberta Williams’ son Chris (also 15-years-old) on the network, totally not expecting him to reply. I confessed to Brad that I had stolen his password and I had been signing on under his account. That was the end of our friendship and the last time I ever used the service. In 1996 ImagiNation was purchased and then ultimately shut down forever by America Online. In 2007 there was a brief attempt to revive ImagiNation through reverse engineering and use of DOSBox, but there wasn’t enough interest in the emulator for it to take off. One fan on the “Return of Talking Time” message board, however, fondly remembered his experience on ImagiNation over 20 years later:

“I had a ridiculous experience with ImagiNation Network when I was 14. I was spending the night at my friend’s house, and I brought the free ImagiNation install disk with me. After his parents went to bed, we got his mom’s credit card from her purse and used it to create an account. (IIRC, you were given a certain number of free hours to try it out, but you had to provide credit card info to get started). We tooled around for a bit, and eventually ended up in one of the chat areas. Somehow or another we started chatting with a guy who had us 100% convinced that he was Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. Seriously. We weren’t dumb kids, but holy crap does that sound profoundly moronic in hindsight. Anyhow, we stayed up all night talking to Billy C, and ended up surpassing our free trial. When the credit card bill came later that month, my friend had to fess up to his mom. She wasn’t buying the Billy Corgan story, and I was never allowed to spend the night at his house again.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Fake Nintendo movie tie-in games that would be super fun to play
02:08 pm



Video games in the late 1980s and early 1990s were dominated by the Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as NES. In addition to Donkey Kong, which morphed into the iconic and incredibly addictive Super Mario Bros. franchise, NES also had its share of satisfying movie tie-ins, including Batman, Back to the Future, Total Recall, The Karate Kid, and Home Alone. For a slightly later generation of gamers, the best reason to remember the James Bond movie GoldenEye from the Pierce Brosnan era was the top-notch Nintendo 64 game GoldenEye 007. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Conan is best not mentioned at all, though…..

A few years back, the outstanding vintage video games blog VG Junk dedicated three posts to meticulously crafted and completely fictional “wouldn’t it have been great” NES title screens for movie and TV tie-in games that I for one would love to have played.

It’s amusing to contemplate NES games that are juuuust a bit too adult (or possibly WAY too adult) like A Clockwork Orange and Jacob’s Ladder and Videodrome, but I also dig the games where the only conceivable gameplay would consist of talking, à la making sarcastic remarks about Blueshammer in Ghost World or defending the virtues of “propane and propane accessories” in King of the Hill.

Some of the movies mentioned here actually did have console game tie-ins. For example VG Junk doesn’t think very much of the 1997 video game for the PC that Westwood Studios made for Blade Runner. In any case, these are super detailed and witty.

Feast your eyes below—and keep a careful eye on that They Live title screen….


More great title screens after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Dead at 17: ‘The Fatal Consequences of Masturbation’—a handy guide from 1830
09:52 am



‘He was young and handsome…his mother’s hope.’
He was young and handsome, his mother’s pride and joy—but he died in torment, blind, sick and paralyzed—at the age of seventeen. If only he’d known the perils of masturbation, then he might have lived a better life.

This, in a nutshell, was the warning to young French men as published in Le livre sans titre (“The Book With No Title”) in 1830. At that time, masturbation was considered by moralists and physicians as a malady which lead to early death.

In 1716, Dr. Balthazar Bekker published a pamphlet on this “heinous sin” of “self-pollution” entitled Onania, which cautioned the reader self-abuse would lead to:

Disturbances of the stomach and digestion, loss of appetite or ravenous hunger, vomiting, nausea, weakening of the organs of breathing, coughing, hoarseness, paralysis, weakening of the organ of generation to the point of impotence, lack of libido, back pain, disorders of the eye and ear, total diminution of bodily powers, paleness, thinness, pimples on the face, decline of intellectual powers, loss of memory, attacks of rage, madness, idiocy, epilepsy, fever and finally suicide.

Yeah, but still…

Then in A Medicinal Dictionary of 1745, Dr. Robert James stated that onanism was responsible for “the most deplorable and generally incurable disorders.”

Another medical book L’Onanisme by physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot claimed semen was an essential body oil—which when wasted through masturbation caused:

....a perceptible reduction of strength, of memory and even of reason; blurred vision, all the nervous disorders, all types of gout and rheumatism, weakening of the organs of generation, blood in the urine, disturbance of the appetite, headaches and a great number of other disorders.

These men weren’t quacks, either—they were highly eminent and respectable scientists working in the Age of Enlightenment. It is hardly surprising that these seemingly informed and scientific views should become so ubiquitous in the 19th century that they could end up as the cautionary tale of Le livre sans titre.

This edition of the book was the find of Jim Edmondson who scanned the pages and posted them on his blog.
‘He became corrupted! Soon his crime makes him old before his time. His back becomes hunched.’
‘A devouring fire burns up his entrails; he suffers from horrible stomach pains.’
More cautionary tales of jerkin’ the gherkin, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Blood and Guts in High School: Beautiful and surreal illustrations for science text books
12:03 pm



From what I can gather Le Livre de la Sante or The Book of Health or the Encyclopedia of Mind, Body and Health by Joseph Handler was a multi-volume series of text books on science, anatomy, biology, psychology and health intended for use in the classroom. Reading these text books must have been a blast as page after page is filled with the most beautiful day-glo colored illustrations by an incredibly diverse range of artists and graphic designers.

Published in Monte Carlo between 1967 and 1969, Le Livre de la Sante was also made available in an Iranian edition—which kinda shows how hip Iran was back then. Handler’s educational books are still available to buy—and 50 Watts has uploaded a whole library of pages from these books which can be viewed here.
‘L’homme tableau de Pinoncelli’ by Josue.
‘Le repartition des cancers’ (the distribution of cancers) by Osterwalder.
More exquisite illustrations from ‘Le Livre de la Sante,’ after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Where the City Can’t See’: Creepy, dystopic movie shot entirely using laser scanner technology
12:36 pm



Director Liam Young has dropped the trailer for “the first narrative fiction film shot entirely with laser scanners.” The movie, which is not feature-length, is some kind of a dystopic vision of the near future.

When you see the word scanners you might think of your supermarket’s checkout line but that’s not the most helpful example. If you have seen a blockbuster film in the past several years, then you have seen a movie that used laser scanners to create the effects. The technology, which commonly goes by the acronym LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), is in many ways analogous to radar; it is a remote sensing method that uses a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances). It is one of the building blocks of visual effects production.

Set in the Chinese-owned and -controlled “Detroit Economic Zone,” Where the City Can’t See is about an assembly-line worker who hacks a driverless taxi to find a place that’s not shown on its map. The evocative score for the clip comes from “Deep Breathing” by Shigeto.

Where the City Can’t See is set to premiere at Heart of Glass on November 12, where it will be played before a showing of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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