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Weekly Link Roundup 12.11

This week roundup is more concerned with economy, specifically with the Greek elections and the problem of debt. Alan Taylor’s photographic blogs has a collection of portraits depicting students who couldn’t find a job related to the diplomas they earned. Meanwhile a German bank issued a credit card with a portrait of Karl Mark printed on it (by popular demand, no less). There’s also a trailer for the upcoming documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. And if all this sounds too bleak, one can still read a colorful interview with Slavoj Žižek who was once described as “the Borat of philosophy”.

• • •

  • Greece was the center of attention this week as commentators and analysts were trying to predict the outcome of a new parliamentary election. On Sunday June 17th, 2012, Greeks voted for the second time in six weeks, choosing the party that support a bailout though by a very slim margin. Slim was also the relief this victory provided to observers as well as to the financial market. The fact is an economic crisis still threatens many important countries in Europe and, by association, the whole world economy. Here are some relevant links collected during the week:

  • Michael Hudson: “Debts that can’t be paid, won’t be” April 10, 2012.

    A common denominator runs throughout recorded history: a rising proportion of debts cannot be paid. Adam Smith remarked that no government ever had repaid its debt, and today the same can be said of the overall volume of private-sector debt. One way or another, there will be defaults – unless debts are paid in an illusory fashion, simply by adding the interest charges onto the debt balance until the sums finally grow to so fictitious a magnitude that the illusion of viability has to be dropped.

    But freeing an economy from illusion may be a traumatic event. The great policy question therefore concerns just how the various types of debts won’t be paid. The choice is between forfeiting property to foreclosing creditors, or writing debts down at least to the ability to pay, and possibly all the way down to make a fresh start. Somebody must lose, and their loss will appear on the other side of the balance sheet as another party’s gain. Debtors lose when they have to forfeit their property or cut back other spending pay their debts. Creditors lose when the debts are written down or go bad.

    Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Missouri, the author of a number of books on economy and the President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends. He also acts as “an economic advisor to governments worldwide including Iceland, Latvia and China on finance and tax law”. (About).

  • The Atlantic – In Focus: “Not Where They Hoped They’d Be” by Alan Taylor, June 15, 2012 (17 photos).

    Reuters recently assigned a number of photographers to capture images of a struggling generation. The result is this series of portraits of graduates from around the world who have been unable to find work in their degree fields and have ended up in poorly paid service industry jobs. Although their current positions may be disappointing, the subjects in these photos may count themselves lucky to have any job at all — the International Labor Organization estimates the number of people aged 15 to 24 without a job at almost 75 million. From a cook in Athens with a degree in civil engineering to a waiter in Algiers with a masters in corporate finance, these young people have spent years studying hard to compete in the 21st century, only to discover that even the most desirable qualifications mean little in a distressed global economy.

    Francesca Baldi, 32, as she cares for a seven month-old baby in a private household in Rome, on May 11, 2012. Baldi studied for five years at university in Pisa where she received a degree and a doctorate in literature and philosophy. She hoped to find a job as a teacher but has been working in child care for five months. (Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)

  • Reuters: “Karl Marx bank cards prove hit in eastern Germany”, June 15, 2012.

    Master Card with Karl Marx portrait

  • Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry a documentary by Alison Klayman. Watch the trailer below and visit the official website for more information.

  • The Guardian: “Slavoj Žižek: ‘Humanity is OK, but 99% of people are boring idiots’” by Decca Aitkenhead, June 10, 2012.

    “I always emphasise: don’t expect this from me. I don’t think that the task of a guy like me is to propose complete solutions. When people ask me what to do with the economy, what the hell do I know? I think the task of people like me is not to provide answers but to ask the right questions.” He’s not against democracy, per se, he just thinks our democratic institutions are no longer capable of controlling global capitalism. “Nice consensual incremental reforms may work, possibly, at a local level.” But localism belongs in the same category as organic apples, and recycling. “It’s done to make you feel good. But the big question today is how to organise to act globally, at an immense international level, without regressing to some authoritarian rule.”

    Slavoj Z iz ek at his hom 008

Link Roundup 13.03

In this link roundup: microbiome and immunity, the failure of language, typography, calligraphers, vernacular signs, uncreative writing, a documentary about The Pirate Bay, drones, the art of the essay, the fading away of the sensible, when Sartre met Andreas Baader, the art of the Japanese stencil-cutter, the value of opinions, horse meat and modernity, bacteria on smart phones, video game design, Homer, and finally an archive of documents related to modern genetics.

As usual, when present images are linked to the content they illustrate. All those links were first collected on @aphelis (Twitter). Previous link roundups can be found here.

• • •

  • Parallax: “Eating Autonomy” by Eszter Timár, Volume 19, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 38-49 (a subscription may be required for full access).

    The above summary of the microbiome features the key terms of this paper: the connection between the digestive tract, digestion, the brain and the process by which we maintain our biological autonomy and protection from our environment via our immune system. It also suggests a crucial difficulty in conceiving of this biological autonomy in terms of a protected inside and a nurturing, but also often threatening, outside. Internality and exteriority become so entangled by the fact that we are just as much the environment of our microbiomes as they are, in turn, our internal environment. (p. 38)

  • University of Notre Dame Press: On What Cannot Be Said. Vol. 1 (see also Vol. 2) by William Franke, 2007. Excerpt from the “Preface” (PDF):

    This book brings into comparison some of the most enduringly significant efforts within Western culture to probe the limits of language—and perhaps to exceed them. All tend to delineate regions of inviolable silence. A certain core of readings is made up of classic expressions of negative theology—the denial of all descriptions and attributes as predicated of God. For negative theologies, it is possible to say only what God is not. These attempts to devise and, at the same time, disqualify ways of talking about God as an ultimate reality, or rather ultra-reality, beyond the reach of language, are juxtaposed to (and interpenetrate with) philosophical meditations that exhibit infirmities endemic to language in its endeavor to comprehend and express all that is together with the grounds of all that is. Such philosophical reflections expose necessary failures of Logos that leave it gaping open toward what it cannot say.

  • Musée de l’imprimerie de Lyon: “Corpus typographique français”

    Le Corpus typographique français recense les polices de caractères dessinées en France entre 1850 et aujourd’hui. Il se veut une illustration de la création française dans ce domaine. Il n’a pas pour but d’être exhaustif mais représentatif : s’y côtoient des grands classiques et des créations plus obscures, des caractères de labeur « sérieux » et de la « titraille » fantaisiste, des créations de haute volée mais, aussi, des caractères médiocres, voir mauvais, car l’histoire de la typographie en comporte également.

    Explore the collection here. Each one of the 1532 items from this archive is very well documented (in French).

    Corpus typogaphique

  • Container List: “Love Is A Sign” by Beth Kleber, February 20, 2013. From 1957, a photographic study of vernacular signs:

    Subtitled “A study of folk art on the Lower East Side,” “Signs” explored just one element of the studio’s stylistic diversity, but it signalled the kind of reverence the artists held for the art of the vernacular (…)

    Vernacular signs

  • Design Bridge Blog: “Interview with calligrapher and artist Frederick Marns” by Lisa L., February 26, 2013.

    “Any really fine designer needs to have some connection with drawing and using their hands. It’s very useful for a designer to be able to draw what’s in their mind. You can’t expect every one of them to be able to do that. Lots of people have great ideas but being able to draw makes the complete designer.”

    Frederick Marns

  • Vimeo: Calligrapher Seb Lester demonstrates the art of calligraphy by tracing samples of BlackLetter Gothic script. The pen he’s using is a Pilot Parallel pen. Seb Lester was featured here in link roundup 13.02. Check his website at seblester.co.uk

    BlackLetter was used throughout Europe from about 1150 until the end of the 17th century. One of my current preoccupations is developing a set of modern BlackLetter capitals that are highly legible, in BlackLetter terms, and yet retain the richness and beauty inherent in this ancient category of letterform. From time to time I will film clips like this to record my progress.

  • The Awl: “Proudly Fraudulent: An Interview With MoMA’s First Poet Laureate, Kenneth Goldsmith” by Mark Allen, February 6, 2013. For those interested in Oulipo or in exploring the limits of creative writing (or “uncreative” writing), this is a must read, and all the way until the end. Kenneth Goldsmith is an American poet and the founder of the famous UbuWeb website.

    That evening, with the President sitting five feet away from me, I read appropriated texts. Nobody flinched. I put together a short set featuring The Brooklyn Bridge, and presented three takes on it, including Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Hart Crane’s “To Brooklyn Bridge,” finally finishing with an excerpt from my book Traffic, which is 24-hours worth of transcribed traffic reports from a local New York news station. The crowd, comprised of arts administrators, Democratic party donors, and various Senators and mayors, respectfully sat through the “real” poetry—the Whitman and Crane—but when the uncreative texts appeared, the audience was noticeably more attentive, seemingly stunned that the quotidian language and familiar metaphors from their world—congestion, infrastructure, gridlock—could be framed somehow as poetry. It was a strange meeting of the avant-garde with the everyday, resulting in a realist poetry—or should I say hyperrealist poetry—that was instantly understood by all in the room; let’s call it radical populism. It was really fucking bizarre, to say the least.

    Kenneth Goldsmith

  • The Pirate Bay – Away From Keyboard by Simon Klose, Sweden, 2013, 82 mins (full film on YouTube):

    It’s the day before the trial starts. Fredrik packs a computer into a rusty old Volvo. Along with his Pirate Bay co-founders, he faces $13 million in damage claims to Hollywood in a copyright infringement case. Fredrik is on his way to install a new computer in the secret server hall. This is where the world’s largest file sharing site is hidden.

    Tpblogo

  • DIY Drones was founded by Chris Anderson. Former Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail, he’s now CEO of 3D Robotics. DIY Drones is an online community center arround amateur Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs):

    An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, colloquially known as a “drone”) is basically an aerial robot. As we define it, it is capable of both remotely controlled flight (like a regular RC aircraft) and fully-autonomous flight, controlled by sensors, GPS, and onboard computers performing the functions of an autopilot. Our UAVs include airplanes, helicopters, quadcopters and blimps. Most of them are under five pounds, and some of them (especially the blimps) can be used indoors.

    We are focused on non-commercial (“recreational”) projects by amateurs, although pros are always welcome too. Reasons to make your own UAV range from a fun technical challenge, student contests, aerial photography and mapping (what we call “GeoCrawling”), and scientific sensing. We are primarily interested in civilian, not military, UAV uses here.

    DIY Drone

  • The Verge: “Romancing the drone: how America’s flying robots are invading pop culture” by Joshua Kopstein, February 18, 2013.

    More importantly, we’re having trouble figuring out exactly what drones are in the first place: The State’s Adam Rothstein submits that what we call a “drone” — which lumps military killing machines together with toy helicopters — isn’t “real” at all. Rather, it’s a fictitious characterization comprised of “a collection of thoughts, feelings, isolated facts, and nebulous paranoias,” reacting to the rapid accumulation of augmentative technologies like cellphone cameras, GPS, and ubiquitous wireless communication networks. Therefore, he argues, whenever we talk or write about unmanned flying machines used to see or attack from a distance, we are by necessity crossing into the realm of fiction.

    Romancing drone

  • The New York Times: “The Essay, an Exercise in Doubt” by Phillip Lopate, February 16, 2013.

    According to Theodor Adorno, the iron law of the essay is heresy. What is heresy if not the expression of contrarian doubt about communal pieties or orthodox positions? This is sometimes called “critical thinking,” an ostensible goal of education in a democracy. But since such thinking often rocks the boat, we may find it less than supported in school settings. Typically, the exercise of doubt is something an individual has to cultivate on his or her own, in private, before summoning the courage to air it, say, in an essay.

  • The New Republic: “The New Essayists, or the Decline of a Form? The essay as reality television” by Adam Kirsch, February 18, 2013.

    The essay, traditionally, was defined by its freedom and its empiricism—qualities that it inherited from its modern inventor, Montaigne. “What do I know?” Montaigne asked, and the essay is the form that allows both the “I” and the thing it knows equal prominence. For this reason, the essay could address any subject, exalted or trivial, as long as it displayed the mind of the writer engaged with the world. The subjects in The Oxford Book of Essays, edited by the late John Gross, range from truth and dreams to wasps and the Hoover Dam. Not coincidentally, some of the greatest essays, from Addison on Paradise Lost to Mill on Coleridge, are engaged with texts, which is to say, with other minds. For the essay is one of the purest ways for a writer’s mind to record its own motions, which are the basis of prose style.

  • Frieze: “Energy & Rue” by Brian Dillon, Issue 151, November-December 2012.

    The essay is the most ambiguous literary or artistic form going, or maybe gone. It’s at once an antique, redolent of libraries crammed with dusty tracts and improving pensées, and a way of writing oneself into the unknown, a style or mode that’s all swagger and risk and theatrical conjecture. For sure, there are academic essays, but they become essays at the moment they aspire to be other than academic, when they sideline rigour for the pleasures of seduction and surprise.

  • The Senses and Society: “Embers of the Sublime: Sacrifice and the Sensation of Existence” by Gerald Moore, Volume 8, Number 1, March 2013 , pp. 37-49 (subscription may be required for full access).

    [Jean-Luc] Nancy seems to imply the prospect of increasingly coming into contact with a sublime “évanouissement du sensible,“ a fading away of the sensible encountered at the limits of experience. In saying this, he comes into contact with what Bernard Stiegler has described as a “catastrophe du sensible“ – a vitiation of affect that is anything but sublime, and which, following the mass-murderer Richard Durn, he identifies with “the loss of the feeling of existing [la perte du sentiment d’exister].“

  • Spiegel Online: “The Philosopher and the Terrorist: When Sartre Met RAF Leader Andreas Baader” by Felix Bohr and Klaus Wiegrefe, February 6, 2013.

    Jean-Paul Sartre’s meeting with RAF leader Andreas Baader was long considered to be one of the philosopher’s great missteps. A transcript of the meeting, which has only now been released, shows the Nobel laureate actually wanted to persuade him to stop murdering people.

    Sartre

  • SoShare is a new sharing service (at the time of writing still in beta). It allows a sender ―who must sign in― to share a file online of up to 1TB in size (that’s one terabyte) for a duration of one month. The receiver doesn’t have to sign in. Receivers may be private (a link is shared by email) or the link may be public (everyone can access it). BitTorrent is the owner and SoShare seems to work on BitTorrent’s protocols.

  • Codex 99 no. 139: “The Art of the Japanese Stencil-Cutter”, February 20, 2013.

    Japanese textile weaving and dying goes back to the eight century AD, however finely brocaded silk, e.g., would be within the reach of only nobility or royalty, so by the 17th century artisans around Suzuka developed katazome (型染め) – a simpler, less costly fabric-dying technique to mimic the appearance of finely-woven textiles.

    Codex 99 is a weblog “about the history of the visual arts and graphic design”. It’s updated once or twice a month and each of its article is very well documented. Check its archive and monitor future updates on its Twitter or Facebook account.

    Katazome

  • The Guardian: “If you want my opinion, what we need are experts, not windbags” by Robin Ince, February 24, 2013. Excellent piece on what could be called “the tyranny of uninformed opinions”. One more link related to this topic after this excerpt:

    Neil Postman, author of the magnificently titled Amusing Ourselves to Death, wrote that we should cut down our opinions by one-third. As this was in the early days of 24-hour news and before the internet, I now imagine three-quarters would be nearer the mark. Opinions have overtaken information and facts as a necessity. Everyone is not only entitled to their opinion, it is considered the height of rudeness to suggest that their opinion is balderdash; the height of rudeness, but great TV too.

    With so much airtime to fill, a few orange chairs and some venomous dogmatists can fill an hour. Then you can follow up the show you’ve just shown with another show where people give their opinions on the opinions they have just witnessed and then another show about how hearing those opinions on opinions has affected people who fear opinions. Everyone must be encouraged to form as many opinions as possible, phone them in, tweet them, place them under features on the internet, join forums. If you do not feel outraged or wronged, are you alive?

    A similar argument was made a while ago by Patrick Stokes at The Conversations: “No, you’re not entitled to your opinion” (October 5, 2012):

    The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

  • Prolapsarian: “On the composition of lasagna: A caprice on horses, abstraction, and the division of labour” by JBR, February 23, 2013.

    I want to know if that disgust at horsemeat is separable from the disgust at the conditions under which today we can be expected, and will be expected, to continue living.

    Horse_Frightened_by_a_Storm

  • Exploring The Invisible: “The Smart Phone As A Vector” by Simon Park, February 11, 2013.

    Bacteria can utilize many different things as vectors in order to promote their transmission. Insects, water, food, coughs and sneezes, sexual contact, and rain are just a few examples. The mobile phone appears to be no exception this rule. As part of BMS1035 Practical and Biomedical Bacteriology, an undergraduate module that I run, I get the students to to imprint their mobile phones onto bacteriological growth media so that we might determine what they might carry.

    Bacteria

  • The New Republic: “Why an Experimental Video Game Is More Anticipated Than Sony’s Playstation 4” by Liel Leibovitz (@liel), March 1, 2013.

    And yet, technological capacity alone does not explain the current wave of experimental games. Other art forms have similarly benefited from cheaper content development tools and more accessible distribution platforms, yet few filmmakers and photographers have embraced these freedoms as giddily as game designers have. The reason is cultural: The hacker ethos reigns among gamers and designers alike, which pressures the industry to innovate—and to do so cheaply and quickly.

  • BioEssays: “Linguistic evidence supports date for Homeric epics” by Eric Lewin Altschuler, Andreea S. Calude, Andrew Meade and Mark Pagel, February 18, 2013 (subscription may be required for full access).

    The Homeric epics are among the greatest masterpieces of literature, but when they were produced is not known with certainty. Here we apply evolutionary-linguistic phylogenetic statistical methods to differences in Homeric, Modern Greek and ancient Hittite vocabulary items to estimate a date of approximately 710–760 BCE for these great works.

  • Wellcome Library: “Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics” is an “online research resource for the history of genetics, including digitised books and archives from the Wellcome Library and partner institutions.” Here’s the official presentation retrieved for the project’s blog:

    Back in 2010 we began a long term project to digitise our collections. Our aim was (and is) to put 30 million pages online by 2020. Today we’re taking a major step towards that goal. Codebreakers: the makers of modern genetics contains over a million pages of books and archives relating to the history of genetics. Another half million pages will be added over the next few months.

    Below is a sketch by Francis Crick from the Crick archive (reference PPCRI/H/1/16).

“DNA” sketch from the Francis Crick archive, c. 1953: The sheets include a sketch of a double helix, a note of "possible configuration / Bases inside". Item PPCRI/H/1/16. Retrieved from The Wellcome Library.

“DNA” sketch from the Francis Crick archive, c. 1953: The sheets include a sketch of a double helix, a note of “possible configuration / Bases inside”. Item PPCRI/H/1/16. Retrieved from The Wellcome Library.

Link Roundup 12.20

In this new link roundup: phone hackers (a history), films in 70mm (15 are playing in New York city), a new book by Roberto Esposito about Italian philosophy, frozen anatomy, applying the law during occupation (a documentary), biorobots, more video games acquired by the MoMA, a collection of documentaries about Stanley Kubrick available on YouTube, a short interview with French philosopher Gaston Bachelard captured on film, science in the media, homicide rate in Canada for 2011 (it’s relatively low), some thoughts about the infamous cover published by The New York Post on December 4th, some humor from McSweeney’s, The Noun Project, American animator Bill Plympton’s new project, homosexuality and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the problems with digital television monitors and, finally, a chance to meet Monsieur Merde in a short film directed by Leos Carax in 2008.

• • •

  • Exploding the phone (official website). Upcoming book (February 2013) by Phil Lapsley from Grove/Atlantic Press:

    Author Phil Lapsley traces the birth of the telephone, the rise of AT&T’s monopoly, the discovery of Ma Bell’s Achilles heel, and follows the kids and outlaws who used it for fun and profit. Along the way you’ll meet an oddball cast of characters ranging from FBI agents to whistling blind kids, from informants to entrepreneurs. More than five years in the making, Exploding The Phone is based on original interviews and declassified documents and includes a Foreword by former phone phreak and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

    LAPSLEY 2013 Exploding the phone

  • The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces See It In 70mm (Dec. 21 – Jan. 1st):

    The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that it will present 15 films in their original 70mm glory, featuring a mix of beloved classics and rarely screened gems, all at the Walter Reade Theater – one of the last remaining cinemas in the country equipped to screen 70mm prints.

    Complementary reading from the FSLC’s blog: “The Big Picture” by Max Nelson, Nov. 20, 2012 and “What is 70mm?” by Scott Foundas, Nov. 29, 2012.

    70mm

  • Stanford University Press: Living Thought. The Origins and Actuality of Italian Philosophy by Roberto Esposito, tr. by Zakiya Hanafi, 2012, 296 pp. See also Google Books for a preview.

    The work of contemporary Italian thinkers, what Roberto Esposito refers to as Italian Theory, is attracting increasing attention around the world. This book explores the reasons for its growing popularity, its distinguishing traits, and why people are turning to these authors for answers to real-world issues and problems. The approach he takes, in line with the keen historical consciousness of Italian thinkers themselves, is a historical one. He offers insights into the great “unphilosophical” philosophers of life—poets, painters, politicians and revolutionaries, film-makers and literary critics—who have made Italian thought, from its beginnings, an “impure” thought. People like Machiavelli, Croce, Gentile, and Gramsci were all compelled to fulfill important political roles in the societies of their times. No wonder they felt that the abstract vocabulary and concepts of pure philosophy were inadequate to express themselves. Similarly, artists such as Dante, Leonardo Da Vinci, Leopardi, or Pasolini all had to turn to other disciplines outside philosophy in order to discuss and grapple with the messy, constantly changing realities of their lives.

  • Codex 99: “A Cross-Section Anatomy” post no. 132, Nov. 25, 2012.

    As early as 1803, the anatomist Pieter de Riemer published specimens from bodies frozen in the Dutch winter. Forty years later the legendary Russian surgeon Nicholas Ivanovitch Pirogoff, with the advantage of presumably even more severe winters, developed a method “by which the human body could be so solidified by freezing and that it could cut like wood into thin sections,” and published the first great cross sectional anatomy – the five-volume Anatomie Topographica.

    The next advance in tissue fixation was the use of formlin by Dimitrie Gerota in 1895. Using this method the St. Louis University anatomy professors Albert Chuancey Eycleshymer and Daniel Martin Schoemaker began to section subjects for classroom demonstration and research purposes. Eventually this lead to the idea of a comprehensive cross-sectional anatomy “to show the essential step between dissection and visualization; to suggest to the anatomist a basis for exact anatomy and to furnish the clinician a gross anatomy in practical form.” It took the pair nearly six years – and sections from fifty cadavers – to publish A Cross-Section Anatomy.

    Anatomy

  • The Law in These Parts a documentary by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, 2011 (IMDb).

    Can a modern democracy impose a prolonged military occupation on another people while retaining its core democratic values? Since Israel conquered the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war, the military has imposed thousands of orders and laws, established military courts, sentenced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, enabled half a million Israeli “settlers” to move to the Occupied Territories and developed a system of long-term jurisdiction by an occupying army that is unique in the entire world. The men entrusted with creating this new legal framework were the members of Israel’s military legal corps. Responding to a constantly changing reality, these legal professionals have faced (and continue to face) complex judicial and moral dilemmas in order to develop and uphold a system of long-term military “rule by law” of an occupied population, all under the supervision of Israel’s Supreme Court, and, according to Israel, in complete accordance with international law.

  • The Creators Project: “3D Printed “Biobots” Powered By Rat Heart Cells” by Kevin Holmes, November 20, 2012.

    Everyday the future written about in sci-fi seems to get ever closer and it’s tech like 3D printing that’s making it happen. You can dispute that claim, but I will counter your dispute with this latest breakthrough: 3D printed biobots. These Frankenbots mix the biological with the artificial and use rat’s heart cells for power.

    The concoction is the result of work by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The biobots are tiny biological robots—7mm tall—that use a 3D printer to create a flexible gel scaffold, which is then injected with the rat’s heart cells. The cells chow down on liquid food so they can allow the biobot to walk, travelling at the micro-speed of 236 micrometers per second.

  • MoMA’s Inside/Out: “Video Games: 14 in the Collection, for Starters” by Paola Antonelli (Senior curator, Department of Architecture and Design), Nov. 29, 2012. This is not the first notable museum to deal with video games. Previously this year, The Smithsonian held the exhibition The Art of Video Games. Last May, the MoMA presented a two-days symposium titled Critical Play—The Game as an Art Form. What’s interesting with Paola Antonelli announcement is that it’s also an essay about video games as design:

    Are video games art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design—a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity. Our criteria, therefore, emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of each game, but also the many other aspects—from the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior—that pertain to interaction design.

  • Cinephilia & Beyond: “All the essential documentaries about Stanley Kubrick” September 26, 2012. Most of them are available to watch on YouTube. Below for example is the excellent Stanley Kubrick : Life in Pictures (IMDb) in all its 2 hours and 21 minutes.

  • Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) was a French philosopher who’s important contribution to philosophy of science is widely recognized. Here’s a short film archive of an interview he gave to the French TV show Cinq Colonnes à la Une on December 1961:

  • The Guardian: “You can’t see DNA unless you look properly” by Stephen Curry, Dec. 1st, 2012. Curry is professor of structural biology at the Imperial College in London. Here, he reacts to the hyperbolic ways in which a new scientific study about DNA imaging (“Direct Imaging of DNA Fibers: The Visage of Double Helix”) was relayed by some media outlets. Although it isn’t a new issue (see “The Science News Cycle” by PhD Comics, May 18, 2009) it’s still an important one: what function fulfills this need to amplify information to a caricatural degree? As complementary reading, consider those two articles: The New Yorker: “Neuroscience Fiction” by Gary Marcus, Dec. 2, 2012 and New York magazine: “Proust Wasn’t a Neuroscientist. Neither was Jonah Lehrer” by Boris Kachka, Oct. 28, 2012

    DNA

  • Statistics Canada: “Homicide in Canada, 2011” Dec. 4, 2012.

    Police reported 598 homicides in Canada in 2011, 44 more than the year before. This was the first increase in homicides in three years. The homicide rate was 1.73 per 100,000 population in 2011, 7% higher than the previous year. Despite annual fluctuations, the homicide rate has remained relatively stable over the past decade. Previous to this, it had generally been declining since the mid-1970s.

    Homicide 2011 Canada

  • Reuters: “The deadliest image” by Jack Shafer, December 6, 2012

    “The outrage is less about the photo, picture or the New York Post than it is about us and how we are always changing the uncomfortable boundaries of when it’s appropriate to show death,” she writes. “In the 1940s, this picture would have been celebrated as a professional triumph.”

    The subway-photo debate speaks legions about our increasing squeamishness, Zelizer tells me, and the changes in our views about morality, politics, and technology. “The debate about this photographer becomes a useful punching bag for all our unresolved sentiments about what to show in news pics.”

    One take on the infamous photo of a man who had fallen onto the subway tracks in New York and was about to be hit by an incoming train (he was killed by the accident). When I first saw the image ―online― I immediately thought of Weegee and the kind of photos he was taking during his lifetime.

    NYP Doomed

  • McSweeney’s: “Welcome to My Rare and Antiquarian eBook Shop” by Eric Hague, Dec. 6 2012.

    No, I don’t have any DRM-cracked Game of Thrones files for Nook. Sir, need I remind you that this is a serious, scholarly establishment with an incredibly sophisticated clientele? Why, just the other day Jonathan Franzen was in here asking for directions to the Apple Store. At any rate, petty digital piracy is beneath my craft.

    Now if you’ll look over here, you’ll see that we have a rare .doc draft of The Corrections that I found when someone accidentally left his laptop bag in the store. How does $7,000 sound?

  • The Noun Project: a crowdsourced archive of free icons representing universal concepts. Great resource for designers.

    The Noun Project

  • Kickstarter: “Bill Plympton’s CHEATIN’ – An Animated Feature Film” launched on Dec. 3, 2012. Legendary America animator Bill Plympton is funding his next feature film via Kickstarter. If you don’t know about Bill Plympton’s work, there are many excerpt of his animation films on YouTube. Below is an example:

  • ABC Radio National: “81 Words: The Inside Story of Psychiatry and Homosexuality” August 4, 2007.

    Homosexuality was once labelled a mental disease by psychiatry. But in 1973 the challenge came from within. The American Psychiatric Association had a change of heart. And with the tweak of the 81-word definition of sexual deviance in its own diagnostic manual, lives were reclaimed, and values confronted. Reporter and narrator Alix Spiegel tells the gripping story from the inside, revealing the activities of a closeted group of gay psychiatrists who sowed the seeds of change, amongst them her own grandfather, president-elect of the APA at the time. From Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life.

    The story of how homosexuality was categorized as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is an excellent demonstration of an important although underestimated fact: categories are not natural, they are powerful political devices. Nobody “falls” into a category, like a distracted pedestrian into an uncovered well: we can chose to enter a category, but we can also be pushed and locked into one.

  • A.V. Club: “You’re watching it wrong: Threats to the image in the digital age” by Scott Tobias, August 9, 2012.

    If solving image problems in the digital age were as easy as fiddling with the settings on the TV—it’s not that easy, with the insane multitude of options, but it can be done—then I wouldn’t have much cause for concern. As much as my inner dictator would like to slip into every home, Santa Claus-style, and adjust the settings on people’s TV sets, they have the right to watch things however they like. In hotels across America right now, people are watching stretchy analog signals on HD sets and even cable outlets are broadcasting old TV shows like Seinfeld at 16:9, lest they field complaints about the dreaded black bars that would frame the show as it was actually photographed. It’s not just that people are watching TV wrong—it’s that they’re being encouraged to watch TV wrong. Funhouse distortion has become the norm.

    See also “Your New TV Ruins Movies” by Stu Maschwitz, March 28, 2011.

  • Finally, for those who haven’t watch Tokyo! (2008, IMDb), Vimeo has the 38 minutes segment directed by Leos Carax. The short film features Monsieur Merde, played by Denis Lavant. The character of Mr. Merde makes a notable come back in Lavant’s latest feature film Holy Motors (previously here). One wonders what Carax would think of his films being presented on a small computer screen.