Human relations, parenting, future!

YOU have complex feelings and ambivalence about a lot of things, even if it seems like those things are good for you or for the best. Don’t assume our kids don’t have those feelings, or that moving into our home is happily-ever-after for them. Don’t tell them how lucky they are or how they should feel.

→ Casaubon’s Book, Sharon Astyk: What Foster Parents Wish Other People Knew

In addition to allowing this man to not only affirm his commitment to abstaining from all the sexual partners he would instead very much be enjoying, the Internet also allowed him to pledge his fealty by defending his pony-bride’s honor, reaching out to the DeviantArt user “Kevinsano” and demanding he stop drawing her in degrading sexual situations.

→ A.V. Club, Sean O’Neal: The Internet finally reaches its apex as man marrying My Little Pony character writes angry email to erotic pony artist

Enforcing social conformity though outright mockery is kinda a time honored tradition on the internet but I definitely agree that in many cases it’s not really intended to engage the target constructively in an attempt to help them but rather ostracize them to the point where they remove themselves from the community. Of course for some targets any attention even negative attention just feeds their narcissism so they just escalate and make the environment even more toxic.

→ Metafilter, vuron: My Little Pony Wife

So, the ‘future’ – as we have previously imagined it – does not exist as a ‘thing’ but can be a ‘tool’ for dealing with the unknown. In other words a ‘flying car’ is not a product with a sell-by date, but a conversation that we need to hold – and continue to need to have – about our transport systems. In other words, it is entirely appropriate that we may not yet have flying cars or ray guns because we’ve had conversations about transport and how to deal with emerging technologies for over a century, which have contributed to their considered evolution.

→, Rachel Armstrong: Where did the future go?

Neck ring, choices and responsibilities

Mu Hwit said she had discarded her neck rings not only because they would hinder her chances of studying abroad but also because she was “unhappy” at being a low-paid tourist attraction.

→ The Irrawaddi, Lawi Peng: Padaung Women are Discarding their Neck Rings

It plopped into the toilet and sat there till I scooped it out into an empty hummus container. I poked at it with the end of a plastic spoon. Turned it over. It was so small, this thing that loomed so large. I was too tired to be upset. I was just happy the pain had stopped.

→ The Rumpus, Martha Bayne: Knocked over: On biology, magical thinking and choice. [via metafilter]

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On shopping and eating futures

When life gives you lemons, you pump lemonade options and dump them on someone else.

At least that’s my takeaway from some of the “investment tips” I’m reading right now. I’m having a conflicted time reading about personal finances, pension plans, insurance and stock investments: Despite myself it seems like an interesting challenge, sort of like an IRL ARG with clear goals but flexible routes. At the same time I’m reading books like “Collapse — Life at the end of civilisation” by David Jonstad (In Swedish: Kollaps — Livet vid civilisationens slut) and think of buying pasteurised foods and gold instead.

The book does a good job of setting up a comparison between our civilisation and older ones, as well as the (most probable) conditions under which it collapsed. David is certainly not the first one to do this comparison, and there are millenarians and doomsayers in every age, but since he’s not pulling mayan calendars out of his ass but is actually looking at what is upholding our culture (“cheap energy”) and how this is threatened (“peak everything, climate change, political incentive to keep status quo”) it’s a fascinating read. It’s as if it takes some of the arguments from Jared Diamonds “Guns, germs and steel” and speculates where they will lead us.

With one eye I’m looking to do mid-term investments with what little savings I have, and with the other I’m looking to learn how to live of the grid and boobytrap my supply of potable water and cans of beans. And with a more tranquil third eye — perhaps the denial eye — I’m finding the below consumerist video hilarious: Sara had put in a late night auction offer online and is freaking out because she really doesn’t want to win the credenza.

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Image search, revisited

Over at I stumbled over the project Google. The work, created by Ben West and Felix Heyes, is based on taking 21000 common English words and parse them through Google image search, and then printing it all and binding it.

Quote from the website:

“Conceptually it’s whatever you make of it,” writes Ben. The sad reality of shrinking attention spans, collective media fatigue or how an expert reference book is no match for the convenience of Google, for example. “It’s really an unfiltered, uncritical record of the state of human culture in 2012,” concludes Ben. So, how are we faring? “I would estimate about half of the book is revolting medical photos, porn, racism or bad cartoons.”

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The second video above is from a work I did at Valand back in 2006: The uncontested order of things: A slideshow curated by google. It’s in the same vein, although it used the letters of the alphabet to search for images. I downloaded the top 40 or so pictures of every letter, picked one at random and arranged them alphabetically in the video. The idea being pretty similar to Ben and Felix — how is our language and concept of images shaped by that which we take for granted or don’t reflect over.

In the introduction to the work I wrote:

The motivation for this process, of which the resulting slideshow is but one possible combination (let alone one possible way to present the combinations) is:
1) To see how many apparently random images we can fit into a narrative, and
2) Given the omnipresence of google, how easily received/understood/accepted the images are when
3) A qualitative analysis of the images (and search results in general) shows an (apparently) unproportional US/EU presence, which in turn should
4) Kick us in the nuts for too easily accepting the perceived “freedom of the internet”, and not reflecting enough on what our online behavior tells of ourselves, but also what actual and very manifest power we are supporting by our actions.

Which actually still holds I think. Google is as omnipresent as it’s ever been, and apart from occasionally switching to Duck Duck Go as my main search engine, I don’t actively thing about how I navigate the Internet as much as I used to, or how that shapes our collective understanding of what the world looks like.

Comically yours

There’s a good chance that you haven’t seen the webcomic Hark! A vagrant! even though you ought to.

Kate Beaton, the artist, also runs a Tumblr with stuff related to the comic over at and in a post she asked people to email her links to comics. It’s a very long list, and if you ever feel like you have too much free time on your hands, or if you just don’t care to be a productive member of society, take a gander: Be excellent to each other.

I don’t follow all that many comics these days: Octopus Pie, Abominable Charles Christopher, lackadaisycats Oglaf, Perry Bible Followship, Penny Arcade, Battlepug, Powernap, and I wish that Warbot in accounting would start up again.

It’s kinda amusing when you read the list over at Kates post, and then take a look at the fare that readers of Warren Ellis generally repost.

The pirate ebay: Fabbing

This can be interesting: The Pirate Bay is sharing 3D models for printing, so far only using the category Physibles on the original site. Right now there are mostly dupes of stuff from Thingiverse, and seeing as the interface is the usual forum link-dump there’s no preview or version control, but it’s still an interesting development for two reasons: For one, once 3D sharing sites will start to be harassed on IP-issues, there will be be a chilling effect on the distribution and usage of models, so we’ll need a safe haven for that. TPB has proved rather resilient.

(Further on, it’s easy to foresee 3D-printers which won’t print non-signed models, taxation on printing materials used privately, consumer protection laws which are stretched to encompass personal fabrication, etc, so there will have to be forums to discuss circumvention and open source practices)

Think about it this way: If piracy of IP today mostly is a concern for a few companies in the western world – regardless if it’s clothes, movies or medicine — what will happen when the manufacturing industries start to feel threatened by the infringement on their manufacturing prerogative? Previously, someone ordered 1000 Gucci bags from your factory and you spat them out, regardless if the person you ordered them from was a pirate or Gucci; either way, you had a business model – making stuff. If now the pirates are not only threatening the IP of some of your clients, but also the necessity of including you in their piracy, you’re suddenly standing with a factory without orders.

I think that fabbing can be a boon to humanity in many ways, but as always with disruptive technologies there will be a huge backlash, and the sooner we can build infrastructures for dealing with reactionary policies the better. Which ties in with the second reason this is interesting, which has to do with the development of a public discourse on the subject.

So far the ideas surrounding fabbing are best described in science fiction and by those in the field – Bruce Sterlings Shaping Things comes to mind — but they’re slowly gaining mainstream attention; Petter told me he saw 3D printing mentioned in a lifestyle & decoration magazine which usually is concerned with spring colours and feelgood food. Just as in art though, the debate will sooner or later come down to what we are printing, rather than that we are printing, and if TPB can be a platform to foster experimentation with fabbing, we’ll have another generation which is used to remix and copy and paste and mash things up, only now with physical objects rather than media. But for that to happen there needs to be practice and debate, and tpb putting it’s weight behind the issue can only accelerate that.

Categories of scat and wind, diamonds and piracy

Then, you start interpreting the high heart rate, and odd feelings, as you being *really* aroused. And lo, people end up with things like zombie fetishes, from masturbating late at night while watching horror movies. Or, your particular kink. Seriously, I wish this was something that was covered in sex-ed. Kids! Don’t masturbate to something unless you are willing to develop a fetish for it!

→ Ask.metafilter, Elysum: Comment on How does one get rid of ones scat fetisch?

The initial scale of thirteen classes (zero to twelve) did not reference wind speed numbers but related qualitative wind conditions to effects on the sails of a man-of-war, then the main ship of the Royal Navy, from “just sufficient to give steerage” to “that which no canvas sails could withstand.”[2] At zero, all his sails would be up; at six, half of his sails would have been taken down; and at twelve, all sails would be stowed away.[3]

→ Wikipedia: Beufort scale

Toward the end of the 1950s, N. W. Ayer reported to De Beers that twenty years of advertisements and publicity had had a pronounced effect on the American psyche. “Since 1939 an entirely new generation of young people has grown to marriageable age,” it said. “To this new generation a diamond ring is considered a necessity to engagements by virtually everyone.” The message had been so successfully impressed on the minds of this generation that those who could not afford to buy a diamond at the time of their marriage would “defer the purchase” rather than forgo it.

→ The Atlantic, Edward Jay Epstein: Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?

Your piracy is only ultimately ‘costing’ the overall economy anything if you then reduce your working hours and take a pay cut that exactly offsets the money you would otherwise have spent on music. If instead you do the same amount of work and take the money and do something else with it – anything else – then the overall world economy has lost precisely nothing. That money winds up going to someone, somewhere. It stays in the system. It isn’t magically destroyed.

→ Slashdot comment, AdamWill (604569): Swiss Gov’t: Downloading Movies and Music Will Stay Legal

Farming hearts and minds.

Over at Changesurfer Radio, J. Hughes interviews Erik Olin Wright about the definition of “class” and how that concept has changed the past hundred years. It’s very basic stuff, but seeing as much of the debate and polemics of the day assume so much — especially on the topic of post-industrial or post-class society — that it’s good to be reminded of what a useful tool class analysis can be, and that it’s still highly relevant. I recommend that you follow the link below.

→ Changesurfer Radio, J.Hughes: Class Analysis: Interview with Erik Olin Wright

I rejected the offer to work with Abramovic and MOCA — to participate in perpetuating unethical, exploitative and discriminatory labor practices — with my community in mind. It has moved me to work towards the establishment of ethical standards, labor rights and equal pay for artists, especially dancers, who tend to be some of the lowest paid artists.

→ Artinfo, Sara Wookey: Letter From a Dancer Who Refused to Participate in Abramovic’s MOCA Performance

Paid posting is a well-managed activity involving thousands of individuals and tens of thousands of different online IDs. The posters are usually given a task to register on a website and then to start generating content in the form of posts, articles, links to websites and videos, even carrying out Q&A sessions.

→ Technology review, KFC: Undercover Researchers Expose Chinese Internet Water Army

After I asked her scary things like what’s her reason for wanting to become a celebrity while enduring such difficulties at a young age, and hasn’t she heard of idols whose youth and talent were exploited after they signed so-called ‘unfair contracts,’ she answered me. ‘Reporter Onni, be honest. If a person like me, without money or connections, and whose grades are so-so, somehow goes to university, what is there after that? Even though it’s a little difficult now, you know that if I just get an agency, that is a real opportunity to me.

→ The Grand Narrative, Kang In-kyu: What did Depraved Oppas Do to Girls’ Generation?

Doing the RepRap #14: Updates and upgrades

Here’s something that I didn’t think about. I had skipping on extruder as well as Y & X, but hadn’t thought that the pulley grub screw needed a flat surface to press against. Here I was thinking that the heat was melting the inner bore and allowing slippage (which might still be happening) but filing the motor shafts flat hadn’t occurred to me. Lucky me there’s an instructional video on the process, which seems straightforward enough.

→ Filing flat a motor shaft:

Regardless, I’m still getting metal pulleys, and having looked at how coarse the T5 belt is and how it’s jumping on my printed pulleys, I’m probably moving to T2.5 belts. Now if I could only find a local source of the stuff which didn’t cost a fortune, I’d be set. On IRC I spoke with some guy in Poland who was buying and shipping the stuff, but couldn’t get a quote from him. And the pulleys had to be hand drilled, which seems a bother if there are pre-drilled ones available. Suggestions are welcome; the ones I’ve found so far seem too expensive for what it is, I mean, how much can diecasting pulleys cost?

Someone is starting to assemble a guide for beginners into the art and magic of building a RepRap, and it’s off to a good start. If you want an overview of the build process, check out I wish that page had been live when I started out, but you know what? Back then we didn’t have fancy e-books but read the wiki and begged in chats, and we would count ourselves lucky!

Doing the RepRap #10

Before you can print from your STL file you need to convert it to gcode. Think of it as Postscript for 3D-printers and 2D routers. The tool of choice for people working with RepRap has been Skeinforge, which has acquired tons of functionality at the expense of usability: It’s ugly as sin and has more features than are properly documented (or documented at all) so I’m happy to see that there are alternative versions cropping up, like SFACT.

Also, putting the printer together I ran into some issues with the otherwise excellent documentation put together by Gary Hodgeson, namely the parts using the LM8UU linear bearings instead of printed bushings. Because I don’t have any spare parts I’m terrified of messing up those I bought from Greg Frost (shipped all the way from Australia) so am anxiously browsing the RepRap wiki and forums in search of instructions. I’ve already managed to put the Y-motor bracket in every position possible, and finally had to email Greg to get a picture of how to do it properly. I’m documenting every step, but so far it’s more of a blooper reel…

I finally found an excellent description of how to fit all the parts together: How to build up a LM8UU Linear Bearing Prusa. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and with the exception that I’m going for a three bearing bottom plate, I ought to be able to finish the build in no time. Now, if I could only settle on which lubricant to use for the rods, I’d be set. “Light machine oil” or “PTFE spray” is the question.


Update from the comments. In the video below I’ve inserted the pins from the wrong side. The black plastic bits should go on the underside of the Polo, so that it’ll sit flush with the mounts. As it stands, the Polos work for me soldered this way as well, but it’s more finicky and there’s a risk that you’ll have too much solder left and won’t be able to push the pins far enough into the mounts.

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