A four followed by five zeroes

typed for your pleasure on 13 August 2010, at 11.11 pm

Sdtrk: ‘My time’ by Ann Steel

I would like to blame Twitter, and the prevailing weather conditions, and preparing for a cluster of iDollator-related interviews for my tardiness. Cos without PB Shelley mentioning a couple of days ago that ‘Shouting etc etc’ was on the verge of hitting the 400,000 hits mark, I honestly wouldn’t have noticed! Well, I’d have noticed later. Thank you sir, and thank you, the viewers / readers / data miners that visit this blog so very, very often! Thanks, visitors! Thisitors.*

Up next: the latest instalment of ‘Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat?’, some catching up on the ‘This was the Future’ series, and some posts reporting on some things that Sidore and I may or may not be doing in a media-related context. Yes. All this, and so much more!**

Once again, thanks to the lot of you for stopping round! As blessed, temperate Autumn approaches, we should be back to a normal posting schedule! Whatever that may mean, exactly. Nevertheless, happy Friday the 13th!

*with a tip of the hat to Peter Serafinowicz
**the definition of ‘more’ being, of course, entirely relative

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Negligence / Ageing

typed for your pleasure on 15 November 2009, at 3.45 pm

Sdtrk: ‘I see, so I see so’ by Broadcast and The Focus group

Earlier today, I peeked through the blinds outside, and checked my calendar, and it appears that yes, it’s about time for the Q4 Davecat Writer’s Block! Which would explain why I’ve not written anything, really, since the last two posts. Technically speaking, ‘Micromoscow‘ doesn’t count, as I completed that in the summertime, and ‘Answer the Question, Mr A. Rorschach‘ was actually started round this time last year. I’ve always said that we here at Deafening silence Plus work at tectonic speeds; people chuckle and think I’m kidding, but it’s no joke, more’s the pity.
And I’m sure you’ll ruefully note that there wasn’t any ‘Any Doll/Synthetik news…?’ entry for last month? That’s cos I was simply out of it as far as writing, to be honest. It was literally a case of there was so much to report on, that my brain just kinda shut down due to information overload — a lot happened that month as far as affictitous companions, and I couldn’t effectively tackle it. So what that means is that you’ll get reports on breaking news that get reported several weeks after the news broke! My saving grace is that most of the people that read ‘Shouting etc etc’ aren’t involved in either the iDollator or technosexual communities, so it will genuinely be news to those of you who aren’t. Yessir, that would be a cop-out answer!

Now to other ephemeral bits of interest that aren’t embarrassingly late! Today, one of my favourite personalities would’ve turned 79 today, the eerily prescient writer JG Ballard.

The American Dream has run out of gas. The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It’s over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now: the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Vietnam.
— Interview in Metaphors No. 7, 1983

Coincidentally enough, his birthday happens to fall one day after the birthdays of two other people I’m keen on. Turning a distinguished 70 years of age, you’ve got Wendy Carlos, the musical prodigy who revolutionised the use of analogue synthesisers, particularly through the albums ‘Switched-on Bach’, and of course the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A clockwork orange’; and, as SafeT put it, being in 37 years of operation would be yours truly.* I’m loping closer to 40, and that’s freaking me out. But I’m sure when I’m loping closer to 50, that’ll freak me out even more. I am lucky, however, to have friends and family that love me, and a very patient audience!
What’ll I do in the meantime, however? Get my head down, and get back to writing

*In the interest of full disclosure, he’d gotten my age wrong. The sentiment still stands though, I’m sure

Chirp chirp / Truer words were never before spoke

typed for your pleasure on 28 September 2009, at 5.38 pm

Sdtrk: ‘F for fake’ by Wallpaper

*flips through stack of papers* According to my records, it seems that I’ve been using Twitter, the microblogging service everyone loves to hate, for exactly one year, which is a surprise to me as it is to you, more than likely. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d get that much use out of it! But it’s not a bad little service if you use it right, apart from all that timewasting I manage to do with it, when I could be writing legitimate posts. Ah heh.
It’s actually connected me with more than a few fab individuals with similar interests; or, at the very least, people who are willing to put up with me going on about how I’ll be joining the lads for another tokusatsu-watching session, or whatever videogame that’s captured our collective fancies that eve. Also, I like to view my Twitter feed as like the secret Davecat Fan Club newsletter of sorts, cos with it, I can share stuff with my followers that might not necessarily get posted to ‘Shouting etc etc’, or, thanks to this blog’s WP-to-Twitter plugin, they’re always the first to know of any new posts that get published, which they can ignore at their leisure.

One of the personalities I follow is actor and writer Stephen Fry, a man who has been likened to a contemporary Oscar Wilde due to his breezy and witty approach to things, wrote a post to his blog in defence of Twitter:

The clue’s in the name of the service: Twitter. It’s not called Roar, Assert, Debate or Reason, it’s called Twitter. As in the chirruping of birds. Apparently, according to Pears (the soapmakers presumably – certainly their “study” is froth and bubble) 40% of Twitter is “pointless babble”, (http://is.gd/2mKSg) which means of course that a full 60% of Twitter discourse is NOT pointless babble, which is disappointing. Very disappointing. I would have hoped 100% of Twitter was fully free of earnestness, usefulness and commercial intent.
the rest of the article is here

Twitter does a rather good job of conveying information and ideas in a pretty expedient and fun manner. You can keep your Mybook or your Facespace; I’ll stick with the birds instead.

Speaking of Wilde, yes, I’m reading my copy of ‘The Soul of Man under Socialism‘ again, as it’s a fantastic essay. Also, I’m in need of new books.

A great deal of nonsense is being written and talked nowadays about the dignity of manual labour. There is nothing necessary dignified about manual labour at all, and most of it is absolutely degrading. It is mentally and morally injurious to man to do anything in which he does not find pleasure, and many forms of labour are quite pleasureless activities, and should be regarded as such. To sweep a slushy crossing for eight hours on a day when the east wind is blowing is a disgusting occupation. To sweep it with mental, moral, or physical dignity seems to me to be impossible. To sweep it with joy would be appalling. Man is made for something better than disturbing dirt.

Try to tell me he’s wrong! Try to tell him he’s wrong! The answer is simple:
you can’t

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Machine intelligence, machine sexiness

typed for your pleasure on 25 September 2009, at 4.40 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Tangier’ by Blues control

In a recent sifting through the World Wide Wet, looking for more Synthetiks-related crap to write about, I’d spotted this empathetic viewpoint on a site called Fantasy Book Critic; it’s an interview with author David Weber. To be honest, I didn’t read it in its entirety, but the section reprinted below caught my eye, for obvious reasons:

HRP-4C, in an introspective moment

I read somewhere that Japan recently unveiled the HRP-4C, a life-like female robot that can walk, talk, and smile. Do you foresee a time when robots will be so lifelike that we will have difficulty determining whether or not robotic beings have “souls?”

I don’t think it’s a question of how lifelike a robot is — that is, whether or not it’s a humanoid shape that walks, talks, and smiles. To me, as I think I indicated above, the thing that we call a “soul” really has nothing at all to do with appearances or anthropomorphic physical attributes. It has to do with recognition and the internalization of the concept of self and with that self’s recognition of responsibilities. Of its willingness — and ability — to make decisions for itself. To choose between alternatives on a basis other than an automated, pre-programmed decision tree.

In that respect, I think it’s entirely possible that we’ll ultimately see a time in which artificial intelligences, whether they happen to reside inside a “robot” or not, demonstrate what I would think of as a soul. At the same time, I strongly suspect that we’re going to find it’s more difficult to create that concept of self in a human-designed machine (whether it’s electronic or biological) than a lot of people have assumed over the years.

As far as machines with souls are concerned, I think one of the things that always drew me to Keith Laumer’s Bolos was that despite the fact that they’d been programmed and designed towards a specific end, as machines of war, they made choices. There can be no heroism, unless the possibility of cowardice exists. There can be no true virtue, unless the door is also open to self-centered egoism and corruption. There can be no true growth, unless we make decisions, abide by the consequences, and learn from experience.

I remember a conversation I had once with a man who had won the Navy Cross as a fighter pilot during World War II. He told me that he’d never considered himself a hero. Despite the fact that he was a multiple ace, he said, he really hadn’t understood the concept of heroism until he watched a 19-year-old seaman on his aircraft carrier charge into a roaring gasoline fire in dungarees and a T-shirt to pull a pilot and a rear gunner out of a blazing dive bomber with a full load of machine gun ammunition and a 2,000 pound bomb still strapped to its belly. That kid got the pilot out, at the expense of horrendous burns over half his own body, and he chose to do it. It wasn’t his job — he wasn’t even assigned to the flight deck division — but he decided that it was his responsibility.

I think the day will come when a machine intelligence — a genuine machine intelligence — will be capable of making that same sort of decision. And when that day comes, if it makes the equivalent of the decision that 19-year-old made, I think we’ll have no choice but to admit that that machine has a soul.
the rest of the article is here

I’ve never heard of the bloke before, but I rather like the way he thinks…
You’ve probably seen this already, as it made its way round the Series of Tubes during my Holiday from Blogging, but we have the first recorded instance (from 2008) of robots kissing. Onward and upward!

While at the IEEE-sponsored International Conference on Service and Interactive Robotics (SIRCon) 2009, IEEE Spectrum scored an interview with the developers of theatrical robots Thomas and Janet, who they claim are the first kissing humanoid robots.

The first kiss happened back on 27 December 2008, during a robotic performance of several scenes of Phantom of the Opera at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (known as Taiwan Tech). Chyi-Yeu Lin, a mechanical engineering professor, directed the performance in front of a packed house of about 400. The overcrowded auditorium burst out in a resounding cheer when Christine (played by Janet) and the Phantom (played by Thomas) kissed.
the rest of the article is here

Granted yes; I realise that they look awkward — the movements are still somewhat stilted — but as I always say in these situations, you don’t start out with the finished product. The developers will continue to work on them, and Synthetiks will become better, both in movements and appearance. Of course, once they get them to move like Organiks, as well as look like modern high-end ‘love dolls’, then the world will be a better place. Fact.

One more brief related thang: recently, I’ve made the acquaintance of a rather fab individual by the name of JM, who runs a blog called Synthetically Yours. As he describes himself as ‘someone who is both intrigued by and sympathetic to iDollatry’, his posts mainly feature a clinical-yet-humourous look at various aspects of being an iDollator, and it’s a site definitely worth checking out. Go ye forth, and peer at it.

And as a coda, here’s an amusing result from my site stats, from back in August. I present it without comment, as anything I could possibly add might well incriminate me

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300,000 hits?? You must be joking

typed for your pleasure on 18 September 2009, at 10.15 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Sm head, Lg torso; crushing grip’ by Dymaxion

Huh! Well, you lot have earned a non-sequitur picture as a reward!

Thanks very much to all who have visited; do please come back soon! Or, to make it even simpler, don’t leave! That way, you won’t lose your parking space!

EDIT (21 SEPT): Somewhat related, mostly demented! ‘You got your Colonel Sanders in my EVA 01!’ ‘You got your EVA 01 in my Colonel Sanders!’ &c.

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typed for your pleasure on 13 September 2009, at 2.14 am

Sdtrk: ‘Falling for you’ by The Soundcarriers

Ah, good! It’s nice to be back, and nicer still to see that you lot haven’t set the place ablaze in my absence! Although I see our liquor cabinet’s been broken into, and all our absinthe is gone. That figures.

So what have I been doing during my Official Excuse for Not Writing Period? Well, attempting to take it easy, really. I caught up on a few Emails, which may not sound like anything significant, but anyone that knows me knows that my missives tends toward freight trains of paragraphs, with periodic months in between responses, so it was nice to polish some of those off and get them to their intended recipients. After having to reintroduce myself, that is. No, seriously. ‘Hi, remember me? You wrote me last year, and now I’m writing you back?’ *shaking head* Man.

Also, I contracted pleurisy! Which is a heresy. I got it from Morrissey! Alright, I’m done. But yes, I did indeed get it, which is frankly ridiculous, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, how Dickensian can you get? Although I did know two people that once contracted shingles, and one of my best friend’s past landlords apparently came down with gangrene, so I’m merely contributing to the Revival of Olde-Tyme Ailments and Maladies. Much to my chagrin.
The upper part of my lungs were somewhat sore for over a week, so I went in to my doctor’s office to be seen to. Unfortunately, my doctor was on holiday, the tosser, so I was shunted over to the other doctor that shares his office, whose curt manner left a little to be desired. She called for bloodwork, chest X-rays, and an EEG, which is the most activity I’ve ever experienced at my GP’s office — usually it’s just ‘stand on this scale, roll up your sleeve, breathe in, breathe out, here’s a script, GET OUT’. She did, however, prescribe me some Zithromax, and gave me an inhaler to use. Weeks later, I’m still making use of those, as I’m still fighting this sumbitch. Ergh.
Pleurisy, if you’re not familiar with it, in which case you should be grateful, is ‘an inflammation of the pleura, which is the moist, double-layered membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the rib cage,‘ as WebMD says. It’s usually caused by bacterial infection. Of course, that has me wondering where and how the hell I got infected, as I’m one of the neatest freaks in Christendom. In lieu of a definitive answer, I shall blame my workplace, as it’s never brought me anything good.

Actually, no, I take that back; work has brought me exactly one good thing! Well, ish. Since there’s now a ban on bringing in books — I refuse to comment on that, cos you already know what my answer would be — they gave out company-branded notebooks made from recycled paper. Each one came complete with a pen, and a cloth loop to hold said pen, which was actually kinda cool. As I’ve been arbitrarily herded over to a different section, I’m surrounded by coworkers that I’ve never seen before, which means they’ve never seen me before. I tend to hide and keep to myself when I’m there, if you can believe that. But on two separate occasions, I’ve had coworkers, upon viewing me scribbling in my company-approved notebook, ask me if I was writing poetry. Poetry? Also, there was one lass who’d asked me if I was writing raps. Raps‽ Do I look like a rappist??* Well, I suppose if that’s the only reference point for music that you possess… no, wait, that still doesn’t make any damned sense!
So since there’s a ban on reading, and a ban on using cellphones, I spend my workdays writing posts or letters, and being made aware of two things:
1) Paper slows me down, and
2) My handwriting is a collision of indecipherable glyphs. Huh.
*tears out sheet, wads it up*

Apparently, BBC America aired ‘Love me, love my Doll’ again on the 22nd of August. I recall that evening I was poking round my blog’s Dashboard and checking its stats, as per usual, when I’d noticed that at one point, there were like ten people looking at ‘Shouting etc etc’ simultaneously! As I’m always the last to know whenever the BBC America programme directors decide to trot that documentary out again, I was wondering what forum / site was linking to me and making disparaging comments and snide remarks this time. It was all good, as the kids say, though. It’ll just be nice once the National Geographic documentary airs, as it won’t be so… dated. And no, I don’t have a date for it yet; I could tell you were getting ready to ask.
Coincidentally enough, I was spotted, thanks to ‘Love me, love my Doll’, at one of the stores I frequent! As I was making my purchases, some random lass stopped me and said I looked familiar.
SOME LASS: ‘Were you on television?’
ME: ‘Perhaps I was!’
SOME LASS: ‘Yeah, you were on that documentary with the Dolls, weren’t you! I thought you looked familiar!’
ME: ‘Yeah, that was me. My partner and I have been together for about nine years.’
SOME LASS: ‘That was really… interesting. How much do they cost, $10,000?’
CLERK: ‘You were on TV? What kind of show was it?’
ME: ‘Noooo, they’re only about $7000! (to clerk) It was a show about artificial humans.’
CLERK (takes my wrist, squeezes it): ‘Are you real?’
followed by hearty chuckling from all parties involved. You’ll note how I didn’t answer the clerk’s question, though. *winks*

Finally, if you cast your gaze to the lefthand sidebar, just below that ‘Today’s Kanji’ widget that remains largely ignored, you’ll spot a new addition to that particular area: my Amazon.com wish list. It’s rather large; you can’t miss it. Compiled over the course of seven years of wishful thinking, it’s a great way to click on and shop for things that interest me that might well interest you. It’s also a great way to discover what I’d like for a gift, and to buy it for me! Cos really, when it comes down to it, I ain’t too proud to beg.

And that brings us, roughly, up to now. Expect more posts soon!
So how are you, then?

*I don’t call them ‘rappers’, I call them ‘rappists’, as rap rapes my ears. I’m fairly certain you’ll agree

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typed for your pleasure on 15 August 2009, at 5.39 am

Sdtrk: ‘Here come the harvest buns’ by Danielle Dax

As those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere may have noticed, we’re in the throes of summer. Awful, hideous, stifling summer. Technically, as it’s mid-August, we’re past the halfway mark, but this is by far the worst of the months. For the past decade or so, I’ve noticed that excessive heat (i.e, anything over 70°F) tends to exhaust me that much more quickly, as well as turn my brain into a lurid paste, so with that in mind, I’ve decided to take a wee holiday away from ‘Shouting etc etc’. To be honest, I should’ve done this after the blog’s anniversary, which would’ve made more sense… perhaps it’s time for a new tradition…

For those of you concerned that I’ll be on the same kind of hiatus that ‘Kitten with a Whip!‘ has been on since 2005 ahem, don’t worry; I’ll only be away about a month. For those of you hoping I’d be packing it in altogether, don’t worry; I’ll only be away about a month. Either faction can take heart in the knowledge that you don’t have a third straight year of me bitching about the fucking Woodward Dream Cruise again, so really, everyone’s a winner!
Now that I’m thinking about it, it’ll actually be more of a holiday from posting, as there are two articles I want to finish, as well as a product review I’ll be typin’ up rather soon, but I’ll burn those bridges when I arrive at them.

Right, that should be it! Should I manage to find out the airdate for the episode of National Geographic’s ‘Taboo’ that the Missus and I are slated to appear in in between now and the time I’m due to return, then of course I’ll let everyone know all about it, but apart from that, broadcasting should return to normal round 15 Sept. In the meantime, why not take this opportunity to hit up the ‘Shouting etc etc’ Time machine, found in the lefthand sidebar, and scroll merrily through this site’s vast and protracted archives? Or there’s always this! This is a hoot. Click her, drag her, but don’t judge her just because she has two left hands and feet. It might’ve happened to you too, y’know.

Looks like 1st-PC finally released their long-awaited Jean Seberg model Doll

And according to my WordPress Dashboard, it appears that this is post no.666. See you lot in a few weeks, and Hail Satan!

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