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”, ( 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

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

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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

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

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Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Sept 2009)

typed for your pleasure on 22 September 2009, at 6.00 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Cet air là’ by France Gall

This is another reason why I ended my recent Holiday from Blogging a couple of days early — news concerning the World of Synthetik Companions is fast and ever-flowing, like a… high-pressure fire hose. Yeah, that’s it! No, that’s not it.

+ KnightHorse have been busy developing raw affictitious sexiness. For only $2500 USD plus shipping, those ‘leg people’ amongst you can now make their dreams come true with their newest product, Lovable Legs. And really, why wouldn’t you?

She’s half-off, har har har

Here are the full measurements on the Lovable Legs (and therefore also the legs of the body 1 and 2 Lovable Dolls):
Total length of piece: 42″ from top of torso to the heel
Inseam (inside leg measurement from groin to ankle): 28″
Thigh at widest point: 18″
Waist: 22″
Hip: 30″
Buttocks at fullest point: 36.5″
Shoe size: 7 for open toe shoes, 8 for closed toe shoes and boots
Weight: 43lb

I bet the rest of her is concealed by the back of the loveseat

For convenience, they come with an eyebolt and a carabiner for hanging. I approve! Now, all KnightHorse need to do is create Lovable Dolls that are just the Doll from the waist up, so over-enthusiastic customers can re-enact that one scene from the film ‘Beetlejuice’. You know which one I’m talking about.
They’re exactly like the Lovable Feet, but, well, with more behind it, pun intended. As a matter of fact, keep watching ‘Shouting etc etc’, as I might well be able to tell you more about their Lovable Feet rather soon…

Not only that, they’ve finalised two new heads: Ally (left), and Sayuri.

Ally’s sculpt is based off one of Hiroo’s (head of 4woods) favourite models, and the Sayuri head is inspired by ideas from an iDollator. Very impressive!

Finally, KnightHorse are negotiating with various adult film stars, to make licenced Synthetik versions of them. Further news is pending, but when they know, I’ll know, and when I’ll know, you’ll know, and when you’ll know, your pets will know. Is that how it works? I don’t know.

+ Speaking on the topic of Gynoids momentarily, the site Plastic Pals mentions that one of KiTECH’s EveR-series lasses has taken after HRP-4C, and made her debut, walking down the runway in a fashion show. But not really.

‘They’re really big rollerblades! SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE’

Korean Android gets to “walk” the runway, too

South Korea’s Yongsan National Museum had a fashion show this Saturday, August 29th 2009 – that featured a robot model posing on the catwalk in designer Lee Young’s latest threads.

Though this move mirrors the recent appearance of the Japanese android HRP-4C appearing in a fashion show and later in a wedding dress, EVE (the android developed by KITECH) doesn’t actually walk as it is not a biped. The dress hides the robot’s wheeled base.
the rest of the article is here

On the one hand, you have to say ‘well, she’s moving, so that counts for something,’ but on the other hand, that’s a wee bit deceptive, KiTECH. It’d be more honest for them to simply admit that their Gynoid doesn’t walk, but I’m sure once they saw the initial footage of HRP-4C making her sexy mechanical way in front of the cameras, they probably felt the need to step up their game. After all, Baeg Moon-hong did promise that EveR-4 would be a walking model. I am holding you to that promise, sir.

+ Speaking of that EveR-3 lass, remember how I’d briefly mentioned in July’s post how she was performing in a play? Apparently back in May of this year, Swiss director Christian Denisart teamed up with Swiss robotics group Bluebotics SA, and put together a play unexpectedly entitled ‘Robots’. Yes, in Switzerland. Now were there actual robots involved? Of course there were!

Shame she doesn’t resemble EveR-3. But I like his dress sense

Robots steal the musical show | May 6, 2009 – 10:56 AM

They could be accused of giving somewhat mechanical performances, but this was the first time Igor, Leila and Bruno had trodden the boards – and they are robots.

The three high-tech actors are currently starring alongside two human thespians in the world premiere of “Robots”, a musical which mixes drama, humour and science.

An eerie sound echoes above the audience from the lungs of the world’s biggest cinema organ. The curtain opens and a flickering candle glides into the 19th-century-style living room, carried by Igor, a metallic butler, accompanied by Bruno, a state-of-the-art robotic dog.

The two humble servants prepare to wake their master, a man (actor Branch Worsham) who lives in self-imposed exile with his automatic friends. They announce the imminent visit of a woman (Laurence Iseli) who will turn his passionless, controlled world upside down, forcing him to choose between the new intruder and her robotic double, Leila.
the rest of the article is here

To be honest, the plot sounds a wee bit trite — ‘Cherry 2000’, anyone? — but once again, I completely support the idea of utilising robots as actors, as it’ll be simply another method of assimilating artificial beings into society. Frankly, once it gets to the point where robots, Androids, and Gynoids are actors in plays and films that I personally can’t stand — such as anything by Michael Bay, for example — that’ll be a turning point. Because among other things, that will mean that having them as cast members will no longer be a novelty or gimmick, and the general public will have grown used to the idea.
If you’re further interested, there’s a site called Robots Forum, where a podcast was made from an interview with Mr Denisart and Nicolas Tomatis from Bluebotics SA, that you can download from right here.

+ Summertime is a rather big deal for the Japanese. Traditionally, they hold festivals, light fireworks, and set things on fire in general. In that vein, Orient industry have done a set of photos as yukata matsuri (kimono festival) postcards, bearing the images of some of their lovely CandyGirls wearing light, gaily-coloured summer yukata. Nice!

Mizuki, of the Real Love Doll Ange line, thinking about arson

Not only are they artfully done, they’re even safe for work! Print up a couple, and tell your coworkers that they’re models you happen to know.
In the interest of full disclosure, they were originally available as downloadable .pdf files, but only from 07 – 31 August. Sorry! I was away, what do you want??

+ And according to the News section of Orient industry’s site, it appears there is a film due out from Japan, entitled ‘Love Doll‘. It’ll be out on 10 October, and the DVD release is on 20th November, a week after my birthday. Hint, hint. The English section, as of this writing, isn’t online yet, but it doesn’t look too bad. Scenes of Dutch wives in contemporary Japanese settings? You have captured my interest. What will you do with it?

Looks bleak back there. Did she take a bus to Seventies-era Manchester?

It looks like a video collection of still shots, from the look of things, but nevertheless, as I’m a collector of this sort of thing (I prefer the term ‘archivist’), it’s a must-buy regardless…

Well now! The Autumnal Equinox has just ticked over, and we should be all caught up on the World of Synthetik Companions, right? Far from it, my friend. Far from it.
*cue ominous music*

Technorati tags: KnightHorse, Lovable Dolls, 4woods, iDollators, KiTECH, EveR-3, HRP-4C, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, AIST, Baeg Moon-hong, Christian Denisart, Bluebotics SA, Android, Gynoid, robot, Orient Industry, CandyGirl

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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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This was the Future, Vol.40

typed for your pleasure on 17 September 2009, at 3.07 am

Sdtrk: ‘Fire, damp & air’ by the Advisory Circle

You can call me a madman, or you can accuse me of stretching my love of Space-age Modular Living to its extremes, or even both, but I’d really love to stay a couple of nights in one of Japan’s legendary capsule hotels. That’s right.

The capsule hotel, if you’re not familiar with it, is a uniquely Japanese phenomenon. Definitely not for the claustrophobic, they’re hotel rooms condensed to their essential components: a three by three by six-and-a-half foot chamber that contains a television, alarm clock, radio, vents for air conditioning, a couple of small directional lights, and a tiny shelf. The ‘rooms’ themselves are stacked in rows of two, with pull-down privacy screens at the entrance of each. When you make your stay, you deposit your luggage at the check-in area, and the clerk gives you a locker key and a capsule number. As the primary function of the capsule hotel is for salarymen who are too fantastically drunk to make it home, at the communal shower/lavatory located on each floor, you can find disposable razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, and toiletries of that nature. As it’s Japan, you can also get various drinks and snacks from the numerous vending machines each building has, and as you’d suspect, most of the capsule hotels have wifi as well.

Television in the upper left corner; photo taken from here

Some capsule hotels feature up to 600 units — goshou & Liann were going to stay at one when they hit Japan a couple of years ago, and learned that they have separate floors for men and women — and they’re usually open 24 hours. Per night, the average price of a room runs about ¥2000 – 4000, or $21 – 42 USD. Convenient and affordable? I’ll say!

Interestingly enough, the first capsule hotel was designed in 1979 by Kisho Kurosawa, who also designed the Nakagin Capsule Tower, a building which just happens to be the subject of the very first instalment of ‘This was the Future’, back when it wasn’t even called ‘This was the Future’. See how that wraps around?

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

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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 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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