Gloom, guitars, synthesisers, samples, and sarcasm

typed for your pleasure on 20 March 2009, at 11.40 am

Sdtrk: ‘Farmland, freeland’ by The Advisory Circle

Yes, another meme (pronounced ‘meh-meh’), courtesy of Veach (pronounced ‘vee-ack’): in no particular order, twenty albums that warped me into the tosser I am today. Ready GO!

+ My bloody valentine Loveless

+ The Human League Dare!

+ The Smiths The Queen is dead

+ New order Power, corruption & lies

+ The Velvet underground and Nico s/t

+ Echo and the Bunnymen Porcupine

+ The Cure Standing on a beach: the singles

+ Joy division Substance

+ David Bowie Changesonebowie

+ Sex pistols Never mind the bollocks

+ Throbbing gristle D.O.A

+ Laibach Macbeth

+ Stereolab Transient random-noise bursts with announcements

+ Broadcast Work and non work

+ Merzbow Great American Nude/Crash for hi-fi

+ NON Easy listening for iron youth

+ the soundtrack to ‘A clockwork orange’

+ The Jesus and Mary chain Psychocandy

+ Pulp Different class

+ France Gall Greatest hits

Granted, my choices for the Cure, Joy division, Bowie, Broadcast, NON, and F.Gall were compilations (o, the shame!), but those were the first releases by those artists that I’d bought, which subsequently hooked me and reeled me in, so I’d consider them to be just as significant in my personal history as the actual albums that the other artists on my list put out. Usually I’m a music snob about compilations — are they albums? No, not really — but I can’t apply that sort of thinking here.

As always, the Marquess of Queensbury Meme Rules apply: I don’t infect people with these, so if you’re keen on it, you’ll have to infect yourself by leaving a comment in the usual area. But then, with the exception of Quentin Crisp, who doesn’t like music?

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typed for your pleasure on 16 March 2009, at 4.36 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Love everlasting’ by Jeremy Jay

Fellow Technosexuals, our goal of walking, talking Synthetik partners is looming nearer. I give you: the first walking Gynoid of the twenty-first century. Yes.

Walking, talking female robot to hit Japan catwalk
The Associated Press | Published: March 16, 2009

TSUKUBA, Japan: A new walking, talking robot from Japan has a female face that can smile and has trimmed down to 43 kilograms (95 pounds) to make a debut at a fashion show. But it still hasn’t cleared safety standards required to share the catwalk with human models.

Developers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, a government-backed organization, said their “cybernetic human,” shown Monday, wasn’t ready to help with daily chores or work side by side with people — as many hope robots will be able to do in the future.

“Technologically, it hasn’t reached that level,” said Hirohisa Hirukawa, one of the robot’s developers. “Even as a fashion model, people in the industry told us she was short and had a rather ordinary figure.”

For now, the 158 centimeter (62.2 inch) tall black-haired robot code-named HRP-4C — whose predecessor had weighed 58 kilograms (128 pounds) — will mainly serve to draw and entertain crowds.

Developers said the robot may be used in amusement parks or to perform simulations of human movement, as an exercise instructor, for instance.

HRP-4C was designed to look like an average Japanese woman, although its silver-and-black body recalls a space suit. It will appear in a Tokyo fashion show — without any clothes — in a special section just for the robot next week.

The robotic framework for the HRP-4C, without the face and other coverings, will go on sale for about 20 million yen ($200,000) each, and its programming technology will be made public so other people can come up with fun moves for the robot, the scientists said.
the rest of the article is here

Her programming technology will be made public, so other people can come up with fun moves for her. Well. *adjusts collar*
As I am genuinely speechless with glee, let’s gaze at a few pics of HRP-4C, shall we?

Full videos are of course available on Robot Watch; simply look for any pictures with the 動画 kanji beneath them, right-click the characters, and save. They’ve a passel of pictures there as well. You can also check out the page pertaining to her on AIST’s website, if you feel like wading through a bit more kanji. Sure, why the hell not, right?

Very good job, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology! Although she still has a couple of standards to meet — such as having an actual name, and not looking like she’s shat her keks when she walks — you’ve definitely raised the bar on contemporary Gynoid production. Nice! And one of the best things about the project? It’s government-funded! How fantastic is that??
So Kokoro Co. Ltd, Beijing Yuanda Super Robot Technology Co., Ltd., Hong Kong Human-Robot Center, Kobalabs, and Baeg Moon-hong, you certainly aren’t going to take this development lying down, are you?

Technorati tags: Technosexuals, robots, Androids, Gynoids, HRP-4C, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, AIST, Kokoro Co. Ltd., Beijing Yuanda Super Robot Technology Co., Ltd., Hong Kong Human-Robot Center, Kobayashi Labs, Baeg Moon-hong

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typed for your pleasure on 13 March 2009, at 12.08 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Extended souvenir’ by Orchestral manoeuvres in the dark

What sort of news do we have this month in the world of affictitious females? The good people of KnightHorse have mostly completed their relocation, and they’re going to be renovating their website. Yes, that is technically classified as news, so shut it. Would the knowledge that they’ve posted a couple of new pictures of their sultry Monique-type in the Gallery satisfy you, then?

Wouldn’t that CENSORED sign make it difficult for her to get a bra on?

Good, now quit your whinging.

Private Island Beauties, the Dolls mentioned in last month’s article, finally have a site of their own: Private Island Beauties. Easy to remember, hard to forget!
There, you can check out the face and body options, eye colours, hand and foot detail, the inevitable FAQ, etc etc. So far, I’m liking what I’m seeing, as far as what they have to offer, and how the Dolls look. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from them rather soon…

After months of inactivity, Axis Japan has put up an information blog about their Honey Dolls, entitled HONEYDOLLS BLOG — easy to remember… o, wait. There’s not a lot there right now, but hopefully that’ll change.
Something I’ve noticed: ever since Axis Japan released their Dolls out into the world, I haven’t seen any user pics of a single one, which I find highly unusual. Not in the usual Forum galleries, not on the Dollmate sale forum… ta-bo-san doesn’t even have one, and he trumpets any new Dolls he gets to the world. I wonder why that is? Therefore Axis Japan, it’s in the interest of self-promotion for you to send us one (preferably a Saori-type, or a Maria-type will also do), so that we can break that streak.

Remember Kobalab‘s Gynoid, SAYA? She’s trying to shoehorn herself back into the public eye, which is fab. Apparently she’s a teacher now in a Japanese primary school. That is to say, one of her models, as I recall she was sold to a robotics university in Israel back in ’07. She’s everywhere! A dream come true.

Can she fire a piece of chalk at a disruptive student? They’re working on that

Robot teacher that can take the register and get angry
By Alastair Jamieson | Last Updated: 12:26AM GMT 06 Mar 2009 |

The device, created by scientists after 15 years of research, is being trialled at a primary school in Tokyo.

Named Saya, she can speak different languages, carry out roll calls, set tasks and make facial expressions – including anger – thanks to 18 motors hidden behind her latex face.

The humanoid was originally developed to replace a variety of workers, including secretaries, in a bid to allow firms to cut costs while still retaining some kind of human interaction.

Her creator, science professor Hiroshi Kobayashi at the University of Tokyo, had been working on a robot for 15 years. She is the latest example of robots spreading to every aspect of life in Japan. They already guide traffic, attempt to lure university graduates to sign up to courses and one is even being developed to provide company to Alzheimer’s sufferers.
the rest of the article is here

Tch. ‘The device’. The writer should be ashamed of himself. Inconsiderate anti-Synthetik bigotry aside, here’s some brief footage of Saya-san in action, courtesy of LiveLeak.
As a related aside, whenever people ask during interviews when I can recall first being fascinated with Gynoids, I always mention that I remember picturing Ms Mahaffey, my gradeschool French teacher, as a Gynoid, even before I really knew what one was. Now, some lucky pupils in Japan don’t have to imagine that sort of thing! In fact, maybe we should start placing wagers now as to how many of those kids will grow up to be Technosexuals?
ROBOTICS: Properly Shaping our Future. *nods approvingly*

Speaking of mechanised beings, I think I got this link from fellow Technosexual Alice, of the site People Advocating Sexual Technology, but there’s an interesting three-part series on the site DVICE, entitled The Future of Robotics. In Part I, they spoke with James Kuffner, of the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, about what’s required to build a humanoid robot like C-3PO, for example.

What benefits are there to giving a robot a humanoid shape?
Well, if the only thing I wanted my robot to do is mow my grass, then I could just stick a radio-controlled receiver on it and drive it around. But the whole idea is that if we design a robot that has a human form, then it can use tools and navigate stairs and buildings and do things that we have designed for the human form.

I remember we were demonstrating our robot to a bunch of Japanese school children and they all came in and bowed to our robot – which isn’t something you’d normally do and we weren’t ready for that. But the important thing is that this humanoid form allowed our robot to interact in a specific emotional way.

Part II features a discussion with Matt Denton, who heads Micromagic Systems, an animatronics company that supplies film studios with robotics:

What would a ‘bot like C-3PO be good for, anyway?
I think there would be countless situations where a C-3PO-like robot would be at least as good if not better than a human. For example, so many people who need care for various reasons such as old age, illness and disabilities could benefit from a robot like C-3PO. However, this then raises an ethical question: Why should or would a robot be any better at this role than a human?

I can’t help but think that the robot has the advantage of never giving up, losing patience or growing tired, but could or would it form an emotional bond with the patient? Then again, could it outperform its human counterpart because of those things?

And Part III interviews Steve Norris, editor of Robot Magazine and a robot builder in his own right:

How close has your work brought you to a ‘bot resembling a protocol droid?
I actually worked in AI back in the late ’80s/early ’90s, and there were a couple of different approaches, like C-3PO being able to understand what you’re saying and then respond. We took a top-down approach to AI. We tried to emulate what the brain was doing, or at least the functions of the brain. That approach just didn’t work.

There were a lot of people doing the opposite. “Let’s simulate the neuron and work our way on up,” [they’d say]. That also, again, worked out for simpler problems but it didn’t scale up. So the idea is that it’s probably something in between the two approaches.

Worth reading? Yes.

And finally, world-renowned Doll photog and all-round sexpot Stacy Leigh hasn’t been feeling quite up to snuff lately due to some health-related issues, and I’m sure she’d really appreciate any well-wishes you have to offer.

Tabitha (foreground) and Taylor, two of Stacy’s roomies / models

Pop round her site, why don’t you?

Hope you lot have a happy Friday the 13th! Try not to stab anyone with a machete or a pitchfork, unless you really want to

Technorati tags: KnightHorse, Lovable Dolls, Private Island Beauties, Axis Japan, Honey Dolls, Kobayashi Labs, Android SAYA, robots, Androids, Gynoids, Technosexuals, James Kuffner, Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, Matt Denton, Micromagic Systems, Steve Norris, Robot Magazine, Stacy Leigh

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Dictionaries for dinner

typed for your pleasure on 12 March 2009, at 11.41 am

Sdtrk: ‘Each today doesn’t lead to a tomorrow’ by The caretaker

Some of you may have noticed, in skimming through ‘Shouting etc etc’ looking for stuff about Dolls, that I’m quite keen on words and language and all that fumfuh. You are correct! I like language, and it’s never done me wrong, for the most part. Further cursory glances at this godforsaken blog will reveal I have a certain fetish fascination with the obscure and the obsolete. So when I stumbled across the site Save the Words a couple of days ago, it was like a collision of… stuff that I like.

‘Each year hundreds of words are dropped from the dictionary,’ they say. ‘Old words, wise words, hard-working words. Words that once led meaningful lives but now lie abandoned and forgotten.’ The site is teeming with terms I’ve never previously heard of, like operiment (a covering), or somandric (pertaining to the human body), or vacivity (emptiness), or pication (application of warm pitch to the skin as medical treatment). Granted, it’s easy to see why some of those words have fallen out of the popular vernacular, but still. A broad vocabulary is something to be encouraged, especially in this day and age — have you seen my new category, the Surly Grammarian? — and dragging a forgotten word from the past and jump-starting its usage is a fun way to do it.

It took me about ten minutes of searching for a word that would be something that I’d actually use, as well as something that I’d identify with. I registered with the site, selected a word, and seconds later, they Emailed me a certificate of adoption.

What does affictitious mean, you ask? ‘Artificial; counterfeit; fake.’
But of course.

Do your part and adopt a word today! Someone needs to bring ‘pication’ back into use again; why not you?

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Do not disappoint us, Zack Snyder

typed for your pleasure on 5 March 2009, at 12.49 am

Sdtrk: ‘Le 4ème titre’ by Christine Delaroche

It’s finally March! This means two highly-anticipated things are on their way: the glorious return of McDonald’s Shamrock shakes, and the premiere of Watchmen in theatres nationwide. Obviously one of these comes round once a year, while the other doesn’t. Also, one is a beverage.

Directed by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the dead, 300), this would be the big screen adaptation of the graphic novel created by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, released in 1986. Largely considered to be unfilmable due to its use of metafiction and large portions of in-universe backstory material to bolster the narrative, the main story of the twelve issues takes place in an alternate-universe New York City round October 1985. The Cold War is still going, Richard Nixon is in his third term as President of the United States, and with the exception of two, the few superheroes that exist have been made illegal by the government in an attempt to curb masked vigilantism. After years of forced retirement, they reunite when one of their own has been brutally murdered. However, that murder soon turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg…
How’s that for some compelling ad copy? Try reading that in the voice of Don LaFontaine, for best results.

I’m not a fan of traditional comics, although I do happen to dabble — namely, I borrow from my friends’ libraries — but something as intricate as Watchmen goes beyond bog-standard comics, and that’s due to the deranged and meticulous mind of Alan Moore. I’ll not go overboard with praise for him, but I’ll simply say this: HE IS NOT A GOD AMONGST MEN, HE IS A GOD THAT THE GODS WORSHIP. See? Very restrained.
Alan Moore, if you’ve somehow never heard his godlike name before, wrote the stories for ‘V for Vendetta’, ‘From Hell’, as well as a handful of story arcs for various comicbook titles, and is working on a new volume of my favourite of his works, ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’. His writing is characterised by deep character development, complex backstories, near-obsessive attention to detail, and an overall sardonic tone throughout. All the above titles were made into films, without, I may note, the blessing or consultation of Mr Moore. The film for ‘League…’ is something I will only watch under pain of death, for instance, as it takes awful to a stunning new level. The main issue is that Alan has been screwed over by both the comics industry and the film industry on several occasions. I’ll not get into that here, as there are a multitude of other places where you can catch yourself up on the various sordid tales, as that’s not what this post is about! I’m just giving you some background, here.

As of this writing (me sitting in my car Wed afternoon, waiting for my workshift to start), I’ve not yet seen Watchmen. I’d love to see it opening night, which is a phrase I’ve not uttered in years, but I’m 90% geeked over this film, as you’ve probably sussed by now. However, there’s that 10% which I’m fearful of. That 10% is due to what I call ‘the Tank Girl effect’ (TGE).
Flashback to 1993, where I was reading and enjoying the living hell out of Jamie Hewlett & Alan Martin’s post-apocalyptic lager-swilling anti-hero Tank Girl. Flash a wee bit more forward to 1994, where I learned that there’d be a film adaptation of the series, and picture me gettin’ all happy about it. Flash forward some more to my best friends Sean, Monti, and I seeing ‘Tank Girl’ at Star Theatres in 1995. Now, when the film was playing, we all thought it was really ace. You had Jet Girl (rrrRowr), Booga actually resembled a kangaroo, etc etc. Now flash forward one more time, to the three of us driving home post-film. It slowly and insidiously dawned on me that what we just saw was a steaming pile of shite. It was actually really terrible. It didn’t make any sense, the director took sweeping liberties with characters and storylines, and we’d pretty much wasted 100 minutes of our lives. Hence, TGE: elation that a literary vehicle you love has been made into a film, followed by crushing depression when you realise the film version is absolute spunk. Incidentally, even Hewlett & Martin have admitted that they were blinded by the glitz of Hollywood, and the movie adaptation of their character was rubbish. They even parodied the whole Hollowwood experience with the Tank Girl miniseries from late 1995, ‘The Odyssey’.
Now, I managed to avoid the Tank Girl effect with ‘League…’ — sorry, ‘LXG’ — cos I’d heard various horror stories about it months before it came out. Like I’d said, so far, everything I’ve read about Watchmen sounds like it parallels the book — except for the climax at the end, but I’m led to understand that it’s a change for the better — and the related in-universe ephemera on the website for The New Frontiersman alone is rather impressive, so at the very least, they’ve got the look down. With a story as fucked-up dystopian as Watchmen, though, the look is only part of it…

So I’m remaining uncharacteristically optimistic regarding a film from Hollywood. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but as it’s Hollywood, I’m trying to keep my expectations low

You keep littering like that, pal, they’ll catch you and throw you in prison

EDIT (22 March 09): I, ah never did mention that I finally saw it, did I? You can read my half-arsed review in the comments here

Technorati tags: Watchmen, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Zack Snyder, Don LaFontaine, Tank Girl, Jamie Hewlett, Alan Martin

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typed for your pleasure on 3 March 2009, at 12.31 am

Sdtrk: ‘From an ancient star’ by Belbury Poly

As I’d noted years ago, sometimes purchasing an unfamiliar flavour of toothpaste is akin to playing russian roulette, as you run the risk of getting something that tastes like misery itself. On the other hand, last time I was buying groceries, I had to make An Informed Toothpaste Decision, as it appears that Sensodyne has stopped producing my preferred flavour, Fresh Impact; or, at the very least, the store was out of stock. So after choosing another flavour (Fresh Mint), surreptitiously screwing the cap off, squirting a pea of toothpaste onto my fingertip, and giving it a swift lick, I happily discovered that what I’d grabbed wasn’t merely okay, it was actually good. I mean, like, good on the level where I want to use it as a condiment. Under normal circumstances, that would be so wrong it’s right, but as it’s toothpaste and therefore beneficial for you, it’s so right it’s wrong it’s right. Right?

Lately, I’ve been hewing out a couple more posts, as I’ve been getting ideas here and there for some whilst at work, but then I’d get porlocked by clients on the phone, and the ideas would disappear before I could write them down. Fuckin’ clients, man. So enjoy some thought-provoking dialogue ripped from the pages of real life instead!

SCENA: Davecat (aka kuroneko_23; fringe, skinny tie) and MontiLee (aka pendamuse; fox ears, cleavage) attempt to bolt together some plans for their week-ends regarding dinner and photography, circa a couple of years ago.

[03.07.24 PM] pendamuse: okay, so what day – that’s what I’m foggy on
[03.07.41 PM] kuroneko_23: That’s this SATURDAY Saturday saturday
[03.07.47 PM] kuroneko_23: AT TEH SILVERDOME
[03.08.02 PM] pendamuse: We’re doing night shots?
[03.08.10 PM] kuroneko_23: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
[03.08.11 PM] kuroneko_23: o
[03.08.19 PM] kuroneko_23: That’s NEXT Saturday.
[03.08.31 PM] kuroneko_23: *checks calendar*
[03.08.51 PM] pendamuse: We’re haveing dinenr this Saturday?
[03.08.54 PM] kuroneko_23: Yes: this Sat, dinnair, next Sat, photeauxs.
[03.08.57 PM] kuroneko_23: YESSU
[03.09.04 PM] pendamuse: Really?
[03.09.09 PM] kuroneko_23: DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE
[03.09.15 PM] pendamuse: But …
[03.09.19 PM] pendamuse: *confused*
[03.09.55 PM] kuroneko_23: Am I gonna have to Email our chat log history to you?
[03.10.07 PM] pendamuse:
[03.10.09 PM] pendamuse: yes
[03.10.11 PM] pendamuse: No, I have it
[03.10.15 PM] pendamuse: I just don’t remember
[03.10.19 PM] pendamuse: much
[03.10.21 PM] pendamuse: since the
[03.10.23 PM] pendamuse: thing
[03.10.51 PM] kuroneko_23: The word you’re looking for is ‘lobotomy’. It’s okay, I was there with the camera and the crazy straws.
[03.11.02 PM] pendamuse: *snicker*
[03.11.26 PM] kuroneko_23: You’re still okay with dinner this Sat, right? You’ve not made other, sexier plans?
[03.11.37 PM] pendamuse: *looks around*
[03.11.41 PM] pendamuse: who are you talking to?
[03.11.51 PM] kuroneko_23: Pfft, don’t give me that.
[03.11.53 PM] kuroneko_23: Pfft.
[03.12.02 PM] pendamuse: Saturday is fine
[03.12.07 PM] kuroneko_23: YAY

Attrition and desperation — it’s How We Get Things Done

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