New new interviews

typed for your pleasure on 28 June 2006, at 11.58 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Ice age’ by Joy division

So yeah! Fellow iDollators Wanda, the RealDoll Doctor, and I have put in an appearance in the printed press yet again. Yes, again!

It may look like a fake magazine cover,
but no, it’s real

The article, ‘Love Dolls’ by Brittany Douziech, was conducted with us all via electrode mail a couple of months ago, and the end product is actually rather inoffensive!
If you’re ever wandering aimlessly on the California State University Northridge campus anytime soon, grab a copy; it’s the Spring/Summer 2006 issue. There’s an online version of Scene Magazine, but as of this writing, the site’s desperately under construction. Hrm. One would assume it’s a work in progress..

Also, I’m currently being interviewed by a reporter lass working on a RealDoll-related article for publication in, of all places, the United Arab Emirates. Who’d have guessed?

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This was a stupid idea

typed for your pleasure on 28 June 2006, at 4.57 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Thank your lucky stars’ by whitehouse

Normally I don’t do requests (unless, of course, there are delicious Synthetiks involved), but SafeT has been exhorting me to do a ‘This was the Future’ segment on the Millenium Dome. Well, you get what you pay for, mate.

pic taken from here, cos it’s funnier

The O2, formerly known as the Millennium Dome, is a large dome shaped building on the Greenwich peninsula in east London, the United Kingdom, at grid reference TQ391801. [..]

The dome was constructed in order to hold a major exhibition celebrating the beginning of the 3rd millenium. This exhibition opened to the public on January 1, 2000 and ran until December 31, 2000; however the project and exhibition was the subject of considerable political controversy and never quite achieved its objectives. [..]

The O2 is now normally closed. The failure of the project to match the hype became and remains a continuing embarrassment to the Labour government. It is still of interest to the press, the government’s difficulties in disposing of the Dome being the subject of much critical comment. The amount spent on maintaining the closed building has also been criticised. Some reports indicated the Dome was costing £1 million per month to maintain during 2001, but the government claimed these were exaggerations.
ta very much to Wikipedia

Also, it’s ugly. It looks as if someone placed a big white tarp onto the earth, draping it over those yellow towers, hoping the towers would support the tarp much like a big top, but the tarp was too heavy, and the towers ripped through. It resembles a.. errm.. huh. I don’t know what the fuck I’m looking at. It’s overly-vast, ill-designed, and ridiculous looking. Summation: dull, boring, corporate-designed ‘modern art’. Ugh.

Looking at the Dome makes me alternately sleepy, or angry. Which will it be today?

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typed for your pleasure on 27 June 2006, at 9.30 pm

Sdtrk: ‘It is narrow here’ by Eric Zann

For this action-packed installment of ‘This was the Future’, I’d been scouring various World’s Fairs-related sites for a decent candidate. The problem I run across with going through assorted World’s Fairs is that there are sometimes far too many fab-looking structures, and it’s simply impossible to choose just one. It’s bad enough attempting to select a single exposition to write on, let alone a single building in that selection, so you end up with entries such as the one I did for the Osaka World Expo 1970, for instance. I LOVE ALL MY CHILDREN EQUALLY!! HOW CAN I BE EXPECTED TO CHOOSE?? Sorry.

It looks like once again we’re going back further than the Sixties, and landing squarely in 1933, during the Chicago World’s Fair. One of its many exhibits had ‘Homes of Tomorrow’ as its theme, wherein various houses were assembled by various companies to sing the praises of whatever material they manufactured. There was a brick house (mighty mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out), a lumber house and a log house (for the love of god, no smoking please), a masonite house (non-Freemasons welcome), and an Armco-Ferro house (Lustron before Lustron existed). Which one caught my eye? The rather austere steel-and-glass number known as the House of Tomorrow, designed by George Fred Keck, of course.

The standout even then was the House of Tomorrow, a three-story, 12-sided steel-and-glass structure designed by the early modernist George Fred Keck of Chicago. From the outside, the house resembled a glass-walled Bauhaus water tank. Inside, a spiral staircase wound around a central core containing utilities while a series of wedge-shaped rooms were furnished with tubular modern furniture.

A commemorative book issued at the time of the exposition says of the House of Tomorrow: ”Every modern convenience is made available at the touch of a finger. Absolute comfort is assured.”

Among the amenities were central air conditioning and a kitchen ”gas-powered to the nth degree” with a ”gas-fueled iceless refrigerator” as well as a ”mechanical dishwasher.”

The crowning touch, however, was ”an airplane hangar, which houses a small sized ship for family use,” attached to the back of the house.
quoted from this article

I honestly don’t know what impresses me more — the fact that the house has got a freakin’ airplane hangar, or that they used the term ‘the nth degree’. That’s a phrase that really needs to be reintegrated into popular speech, I think. ‘I’m enjoying this funnel cake to the nth degree,’ chirped Deirdre. ‘It’s really special.’ But I digress.
An airplane hangar! Back in the Future of the Past, the average American family was supposed to have their own personal light aircraft (undoubtedly in the Far-flung Future of 1970), hence the need for a hangar. Which would be really fab, but seeing as that we can barely trust people to be lucid enough when behind the wheel of a ground-based vehicle, perhaps that prediction was a wee bit over-optimistic..

The current fate of the House of Tomorrow is turning around. After the World’s Fair packed it in in 1934, it, along with the other homes of that particular exhibit, were placed on barges, and floated over Lake Michigan to their present location in Beverly Shores, Indiana. The plan at the time was to use the unusual homes to generate publicity for development of additional lakefront property along that area, but the plan fell through. For years, the houses were maintained by the Indiana park service, but as they weren’t really bona fide houses, so much as they were essentially model homes, they began to deteriorate, as they weren’t really meant to last. Thankfully, they’re now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and the homes are currently being leased to private occupants who have agreed to restore them, in exchange for minimal or no rent. A happy ending!

The House of Tomorrow is no longer open to the public, but you can take a driving tour to see it, and take photographs from the front lawn until the owner chases you away with a broom

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Japan, we hardly knew ye

typed for your pleasure on 24 June 2006, at 10.52 am

Sdtrk: ‘You trip me up’ by The Jesus and Mary chain

Good try, though — you get an A for Effort. Or whatever the equivalent grade is, as according to the Japanese school system.

This should also satisfy whatever furtive individual(s) who keep hitting ‘Shouting etc etc’ by typing ‘sexy anime girls’ into Google

Technorati tags: FIFA, World Cup, football, soccer

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EveR-1’s next goal: hosting a chat show

typed for your pleasure on 23 June 2006, at 3.53 pm

Sdtrk: ‘La fille d’un garçon’ by France Gall

Damn, Korea, you are upping the ante pretty quickly. Well done!

She’s about to do that ‘I’m crushing your
head’ sketch from Kids in the Hall again

Female Android to Chair Info-Tech Fair
By Kim Tae-gyu, Staff Reporter
The Korea Times, 20 July 2006A female android will chair the opening ceremony of the SEK 2006, Korea’s biggest info-tech exhibition that begins a four-day run at COEX in southern Seoul Wednesday.

The life-like android, named EveR-1, was developed by a research team at the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology and went public early last month.

EveR-1 is poised to introduce notable participants at today’s SEK ceremony before delivering an oral presentation on the annual fair,’’ said Baeg Moon-hong, a senior researcher at the state-sponsored institute.

“We are happy to show off our own android the advanced IT fair. We aim to make efforts to develop the robot to be more like humans,’’ Baeg said.
the complete article is here

In effect, she’s only really doing what the Robot Station emcee version of Actroid-chan did at last year’s Aichi Expo, only seated and not in that delicious race queen outfit. Nevertheless, this is still very fab.
Okay Osaka Labs / Kokoro co. Ltd., what will you do to block? I suggest getting Ando-san a dedicated job as a newscaster, for starters..

Speaking of Kokoro, they’ve redesigned their website, and if you’ll note beneath the logo in the top left corner, it says, ‘a company of Sanrio Group’. Robots + Cute = one facet of the Japanese zeitgeist! It all makes sense now! *nods sagely*

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‘More human than human’, after a fashion

typed for your pleasure on 21 June 2006, at 8.43 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Message from home’ by Broadcast

You get Two Bonus Anecdotes along with this post; one now, and one at the end.
A long long time ago, in a highschool far, far away, Monti and I would periodically work on a script for a science-fiction-flavoured action film entitled ‘Give me fifteen dollars’. Don’t ask me about the title now — there’s a long story behind it, and I’m trying to rein in my tangents, here. Anyway, one of the main characters was Blitz, a Gynoid that was a part-time assassin and a part-time office worker, played by Monti. Would it surprise you to learn that I came up with that character? In one scene, Blitz is with her two friends, and she’s reading a book, and laughing uproariously. They ask her what’s so funny, and she holds up the book, which is by Isaac Asimov, and she replies, ‘”The Three Laws of Robotics”?? What bullshit!!’

No sex please, robot, just clean the floor
Ed Habershon and Richard Woods
The Sunday Times, June 18, 2006

THE race is on to keep humans one step ahead of robots: an international team of scientists and academics is to publish a “code of ethics” for machines as they become more and more sophisticated.

Although the nightmare vision of a Terminator world controlled by machines may seem fanciful, scientists believe the boundaries for human-robot interaction must be set now — before super-intelligent robots develop beyond our control.

“There are two levels of priority,” said Gianmarco Verruggio, a roboticist at the Institute of Intelligent Systems for Automation in Genoa, northern Italy, and chief architect of the guide, to be published next month. “We have to manage the ethics of the scientists making the robots and the artificial ethics inside the robots.”
the complete article is here

An article like this is both encouraging and disheartening. The positive side I see is that technology is progressing along at a fair enough rate, where there’s actually a need to consider that genuine Synthetiks might well exist within the next couple of decades. Of course, you can always factor in that technological progress always seems to be accelerating — it took less time for humanity to get from automobile to Segway, than from wheel to automobile, for instance, so it might even be less than twenty odd years. The negative side would of course be this whole paranoia-driven jumping the gun mentality of ‘well, we’re gonna be dealing with semi-sentient lifeforms pretty soon, so we need to start keeping very strict tabs on them before they start a Robot Apocalypse’. Sure, if we can simulate a lifeform that can think like Organiks do, then obviously there’ll be a need to implement a sense of Right and Wrong in their operating systems. But the line ‘ensuring human control of robots’ kinda rings of slavery to me. There’s a vast and nebulous grey area that comes with this concept, and like I’d said, it’s ace that they’re giving this some thought right now, but I can only hope that the members of Euron and other similar AI ethics groups have their own morals and ethics in order, before saddling them onto brand-new lifeforms.
Didn’t veach once ask a cluster of questions related to this topic? Yes, yes he did. I still have to get round to finishing those..

The other tale: I had taken fencing for a semester back in 1990, which was one of the few classes I enjoyed, as I got a B+ out of it. One of my classmates was this bloke by the name of Brian. We never hung out at all outside of class, so it was a surprise to run into him again in a parking lot in Ferndale several years later. We chatted for a few minutes — about what, I can’t recall — but we touched upon the topic of career study fields. From completely out of the blue, he said, ‘I think you’d be good at something like building robots or Androids.’ Keep in mind, that startled/pleased me twice as much as normal, cos he didn’t know of my slavering lust for fascination with Synthetiks. But the very next sentence out of his mouth was, ‘Although I think you should probably take a few ethics classes beforehand.’
I laughed like a drain

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The Geordie Film Experience, Part I

typed for your pleasure on 18 June 2006, at 5.09 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Angle’ by John Oswald

Well, this past Saturday afternoon, I finished the first leg of filming with a whole new film crew. Yes, Shi-chan and I will be on telly again in a number of months; this time in England! HOOREJ

Several weeks ago, just after the wildly inaccurate Marie Claire UK article went to press, I was contacted by about five different media crews almost simultaneously. One was a photographer from Slovakia; one was a woman from Canada that I’d spoken to last year about conducting an interview, but the project was shelved for something else; two were from England; and the other was a television crew from Sweden. Due to my bitterness at the Marie Claire UK hack job, I pretty much told them all the same thing — sorry, there’s been some erroneous press about us, so I’m a wee bit discouraged, and Sweetie’s joints are really loose, so she’s a wee bit discouraged. Also, the weather’s really been shite* lately. However, both the Swedes and one of the English crews, unbeknownst to each other, made me an offer that I really couldn’t refuse — they asked if I would be more interested in participating if they were to send Shi-chan on an all-expense paid trip to the RealDoll Doctor‘s place in California, and have her refurbished at their expense? Needless to say, I didn’t expect an answer that enticing, but now the problem was which crew would I end up working with?
Several chin-stroking days later, I heard from Nick of the English crew first, and that solidified things more. We spoke over the phone for about three hours, and I pretty much sussed that he wasn’t out for a sensationalist approach. What he wanted to do was make a documentary that would be much like Meghan Laslocky’s famous article, where it would detail the relationships that various iDollators have with their Synthetik companions. A point in his favour was that he had previously directed a series of short films that dealt with owners and the bonds they formed with things dear to them — one of the subjects was a woman who had several AIBOs, for instance. Despite the fact that the weather had been filthy hot for the past couple of days, I agreed to participate. After all, anything that greatly benefits the Missus is a Good Thing..

After roughly seven hours’ worth of flying from London to SE Michigan, Nick, a Geordie by birth who resembled a slimmer, younger Harvey Keitel, and his cohort Tanya, who was born in Capetown and lived in Bogotá (cheerfully described as ‘the most dangerous city on the face of the Earth’) for a while, met up with me at my place on Thurs afternoon, so we could fully discuss the proceedings. The previous week-end, they had filmed fellow iDollator Everhard and his lasses, and their plan was to film me in almost a slice-of-life kinda style for Friday, and on Saturday, they’d film me prepping Sweetie and having her shipped out. Then, Nick & Tanya were to fly to the West Coast and film the RealDoll Doctor restoring the Missus, as well as get a couple of shots in the Abyss factory. Then they’d film Gordon Griggs & Ginger as well; they were going to film PB Shelley and his lovely lasses, but that deal apparently fell through; and then, they would return on 7 July, in time to shoot the Missus being returned to me. The whole approach struck me as being very innovative and sympathetic, and is the stuff of good ‘human interest’ stories. Plus, we didn’t have to worry about it being altered through editing, as Nick is the editor. Before we ended the eve at a Coffee Beanery, I showed them round the neighbourhood, as well as a few miles north, while Tanya regaled us with a couple of rather funny anecdotes dealing with Michael Caine and Sascha Baron-Cohen. Good stuff!

Friday was filmed mostly indoors, as it was rather warm out. Nick, with his HD-quality Sony videocamera, shot me eating brekky and answering a volley of questions dealing with how I became an iDollator, how I chose Shi-chan’s appearance, what she means to me, etc etc. Friday’s proceedings started at 9am, and went until 6, with about a 90min break at Quizno’s, so it was pretty knackering. People don’t realise how much filming takes out of you!
Saturday, however, was our stunning denouement. There was the fact that whenever we filmed, we had to turn the fans off, otherwise the lavalier would pick up the noise, plus the weather reached an oven-fresh high of 94°F that day, so you undoubtedly get the warm idea. Ugh. I’m going to put together a list of requirements, so that next time photographers or filmmakers come sniffing round, that either the visit takes place in Autumn, or not at all. Sweating’s really undignified, especially if you’re on camera at the time, but I just kept reminding myself that it was all for a good cause… We began at 10am; Nick filmed me going through highschool-era pics of myself and mates, while Tanya asked more questions. Since Nick wanted to provide the perspective of someone who knows an iDollator, yet isn’t involved in the culture, they got round to Monti‘s place at noon to interview her for a bit, as not only had she been the one to tip me off to the whole concept of RealDolls years ago, but she and I are the best of friends, and have known each other for about a quarter of a century. Egad, that makes us sound really old…
Nick & Tanya got back to mine at 3pm, where they shot me dressing Sweetie and doing her makeup proper, with additional Q&A all the while. They then filmed me going through the complicated process of carrying her down a flight of stairs, sitting her in a rolling office chair outside, wheeling her to the garage, extricating her crate from the toolroom off to the side, getting her into said crate, making sure she was properly seated, strapping her in, and locking the crate, all of which was completed just in time for the expeditor’s truck to arrive at 5pm on the dot. Again, apart from the heat, the entire operation went like clockwork.

It was a very surreal feeling to see the expeditor driver close the door to the cargo area, as that would be the last time I’d see Shi-chan for several days. I prefer to think of it as a case of she’s gone off on a holiday at Spa Jackson’s, for a nice makeover and some R&R. Maybe she’ll get to hang out with a couple of Dolls while she’s up there! Shame I didn’t lend her Clicky Mk III, in that case… Between now and the time she returns, however, my day-to-day existence will be odd. She’s been away for refurbishment before, but it’ll still be odd. Guess I’ll get some more reading in!…

But overall, the whole filming process went without a hitch. Nick & Tanya drove off Sat afternoon, in order to get some decent rest in before their departure Sunday morn. Undoubtedly when they return, it’ll be even better, as not only will Sidore be back, but we have some plans for that leg of the filming that’ll be pretty damn fab. I know what they are, but you lot will have to wait for the subsequent report. 🙂

Stay chooned!

EDIT: You can check out Monti’s take on her end of the experience right here. If you don’t agree that she’s a wonderful friend and a sexy individual, you are a tosser, and I will fling something heavy at your head

ANOTHER EDIT: Peer into the Future, and read Part II!

*to paraphrase Anton LaVey, ‘Summer is the only season that validates stupidity’. This is an irrefutable truth

Technorati tags: Davecat, Sidore, RealDoll, iDollator, MontiLee

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