Monday, December 26, 2011

Madrid Río

Apparently, since I moved they got it right with this massive project. For a while it looked like something on the scale of burying pyramids . . . with really bad traffic jams. I am still not sure massive tunnel projects are the best solution, but this was indeed an unloved part of the city dominated by highway overpasses; and such changes with well thought out public spaces inevitably improves living in such a dense urban environment.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Deterritorial Support Group

Over several hours they dispense praise for radical designers and propagandists such as Atelier Populaire, Grapus, The Designers Republic and Class War, and have harsh words for almost everyone else, including the Labour left ("2011's real utopians"), the Lib Dems ("trepanning on the brain of social democracy"), Adbusters ("hipsters are the abortion of the vanguard"), and the Trotskyist SWP ("how endearing to base your entire political outlook on a text written in 1921, under very specific conditions"). They seem equally in love with radical theorists such as Gilles Dauve, and lolcat pictures . . .
. . . This all sounds wonderful, of course. But DSG isn't that optimistic about the imminent arrival of a new world – at the very least, it's sure change won't come from the TUC, or from Westminster. "Capital has already smashed organised labour, and now it's going to work on parliamentary democracy: across southern Europe, there's this slipping into a state of exception," Pablo says, reflecting on the recent appointments of "technocrats" to head the governments in Greece and Italy, and concern about a resurgence in fascist parties ("the fash"). "This postwar argument that capitalism and democracy go hand in hand; well maybe that was just a transition period before capitalism reaches its actual zenith, which is ... China?"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Culture Stalled?

We seem to have trapped ourselves in a vicious cycle—economic progress and innovation stagnated, except in information technology; which leads us to embrace the past and turn the present into a pleasantly eclectic for-profit museum; which deprives the cultures of innovation of the fuel they need to conjure genuinely new ideas and forms; which deters radical change, reinforcing the economic (and political) stagnation.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Let's Dig a Tunnel to Hell - Together!

I know we're all super busy with, well, all the crap we're busy with - That said, anyone interested in giving this a shot? We could set up a dedicated Terraria server to turn on one night per week (or during a dedicated weekend time-slot), fire up some sort of voice-chat server to go along with it, and jibber-jaber away while digging deep - too deep! I think it might be a nice way to do some gaming together/catch up. Anyone interested?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Urban Planning Post

The pundits are thinking about urban infrastructure this week . . .
and of course "the new urban groundswell" happened because of Rachel from the television show Friends.

Death to the suburbs!

DRIVE through any number of outer-ring suburbs in America, and you’ll see boarded-up and vacant strip malls, surrounded by vast seas of empty parking spaces. These forlorn monuments to the real estate crash are not going to come back to life, even when the economy recovers. And that’s because the demand for the housing that once supported commercial activity in many exurbs isn’t coming back, either.

Occupy: Pepper Spray Edition

For the archive.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy: City by City

Police crackdowns.

It feels awkwardly distant and isolated here in Germany from the political winds of 2011.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My New Keyboard

Three weeks ago, I started getting numbness and stinging in my wrists at the end of each workday. I hadn't been drinking any coffee for a month; an experiment to see if I would somehow become a more effective person without it. Life without coffee was surprisingly similar. I'm afraid that  without a steady coffee intake my circulation is exceedingly poor, however, and this started giving me RSI symptoms.

Anyhow, it's three weeks later. I've been sleeping in wrist supports, and I've bought a couple of trackballs for work and home, as well as the rather pricey keyboard pictured below. The symptoms have decreased quite a bit. Before any of this had come up, I'd read plenty of bio's that mentioned animator / programmer types not being able to work for years at a time because of RSI. So being overly cautious is how one avoids this sort of thing.

I thought I'd share the  keyboard because I think it is a a great design and I am quite pleased with it. My only complaint is that the rubber function keys stick a little. I re-mapped the 'Caps Lock' key to be 'Escape'. The two programs I use most are AutoCAD and Vim, in which you are hitting Escape constantly. Apparently, this is where Escape was on the terminal keyboards of yore, so I am using Vi as it was designed to be used. (Vi is great. How many pieces of software do you use everyday that were written the year you were born?)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

MLG Pro Circuit Starcraft 2 Live Today

If you've ever wanted to check out a Pro Starcraft 2 game, this might be the day to do it.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Moebius as abstractionist

Check out these compositions by Jean "Moebius" Giraud. They have a science fictional flavor, much like Lee Bontecou's work. (Link.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Someone should make a movie in the "thriller" genre about this.

Police in Poland have been left puzzled by the discovery of a collection of 300 paintings worth "millions of euros" in an outhouse belonging to a 92-year-old former bricklayer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


This BBC documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop makes some interesting observations about the relationship between creativity and technology. Before synthesizers, electronic music was made with tape loops. The observation is made that the tape music was more creative because it was manipulated on a deeper level, whereas playing a synth was like picking off of a menu. I see this as a expression of the modular / monolithic divide that exists in many technologies. (Link.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Proper Computing

Fuseli, Henri. "The Artist Moved By the Grandeur of Antique Fragments" 
I found these items illuminating:

  • Software Carpentry is an old site that I recently discovered. I recommend the tutorials on using the shell, if you use Mac or Linux. (Link.
  • The developer of the indie game Braid gave a talk at Berkeley about the Herculean effort that game programming requires. (Link.) (Via.)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Wonky Urban Planning Post

Effective urban concentration.

This is one of those topics that gets me all riled up.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

This is a great album!

This was released last year. I didn't really have my ear to the ground. Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks and Black Flag screams, one of the McDonald boys from Redd Kross is on base, and the other members are pretty heavy hitters, also. It goes without saying that I deeply identify with the indignation and misanthropy in this music. This isn't 1980s nostalgia, like the last post. The same blood suckers and crypto-fascists that were screwing-up America in the 1980s are still around. This is the appropriate response.

Early Exposure

I was allowed to play D&D with my big brother's friends at a community center in suburban Maryland a couple of times. (Pictured above. Not including my little brother, of course.) I think I was deemed too young. They were playing the "G" series modules, and I do remember being somewhat baffled by what was going on. This was my second D&D group. My first D&D group was my big brother and my mom. My big brother wrote and ran an adventure for us using the blue box. I have the manuscript and hand-drawn maps, but I won't bore you. For more 1980's pop culture, here is myself as mohair Chewbacca.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It looks like I may get a new neighbour.

The invitation is something of a symbolic act, but a relevant one nonetheless. Ai-Weiwei has definitely made an impact here in the German art scene, in discussions of international funding for culture, and questions of what exactly are the acute political ramifications surrounding this kind critical art.

An anecdote that I heard at the university here in Berlin to give this some context: There was a huge exhibition of his work in Beijing around the time he was detained. The exhibition was effectively black-listed, ignored by all forms of media, and boycotted by the government. The large project was almost entirely funded from Germany and it would appear was interpreted as an aggressive political act of arts patronage.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

WerkStadt - Berlin Open Call


WerkStadt Kulturverein Berlin e.V. is now looking for artists from all disciplines to submit proposals for an exhibition for the upcoming year from September 2011-August 2012. We welcome work by both local and international artists.

Each exhibition lasts one month. Please send by e-mail no more than 8 images of recent work in .jpeg or .pdf format, artist CV, a short description of you work, and which month you would be able to exhibit to

Deadline is Friday the 8th of July, 2011.

The WerkStadt is a non-profit platform for contemporary art and culture, with two locations: WerkStadt, Emser Straße 124, where we have a fully equipped dark room for photography, wood work studio, a writing studio, artist studios, project room and bar area. The second location the WerkStadt Kunstsatellit, Nogatstraße 39. consists of six artists studios.

As well as monthly exhibitions, we also organise Art Clinic where different artists present there work for discussion and critical debate on the first Monday of every month.

Friday, June 03, 2011


I really enjoyed the musicality and personality of this little art game. The musical chatter reminds me of Paul Lansky's Smalltalk & Idle Chatter pieces. The treatment is relentlessly cute, but its subject matter is the prison-of-the-self. (Link.)(Via.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 - The Flame Wars

I think this is an interesting enough topic to warrant its own thread. At least for the Linux computing geeks.

Pete said in the last comments section:
This is somewhat off topic, but have you loaded Ubuntu 11.04, yet, Jason? If so what are your impressions of Unity. I'm on Kubuntu 11.04 right now. Unity looked like it would be non-functional w/o Compiz. Compiz messes with other OpenGL processes like Blender, so I don't use it.
Ubuntu 11.04 and the inclusion of Unity as the default shell seems to have got some people's blood boiling. For my part I am still tinkering and rather inconclusive with the whole desktop environment developments lately for Linux.

I have been staying with long-term service releases for my desktop computer for quite awhile now in the interest of stability. My wife has Ubuntu 10.10 on her workhorse laptop only because it was new and had some driver issues with older releases. I recently upgraded to Ubuntu 11.04 on my netbook just to try the new iteration of Unity out.

My two cents so far: Mostly wait and see. Unity works sufficiently on a netbook computer with a small screen and has very attractive eye candy. The concept overall is good, but the implementation of inner menu structures (the application lens) is muddled and frustrating at best, if not downright fricking useless. Work-flow issues seem to have become filled with extra clicking and slow loading times. I would like to believe all these things will be worked out before the next release or at least before the next LTS a year from now, based solely on my past experience with Ubuntu and Canonical in the last five years. I applaud the move to Banshee and Libre Office as default applications for music and documents respectively. Nonetheless, I could not recommend 11.04 and Unity for big screens or primary work computers.

I have yet to tinker with other options but I am curious how GNOME 3 is shaping up. I find XFCE a bit clunky and counter-intuitive, and the tiny bit I have looked at KDE it was simply opaque and mysterious. I doubt I will have the time in the near future to muck around with something totally new like a different Linux distribution.

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS with GNOME 2 for the win!

I have been spending some time reading reviews of all the various options but cyberspace seems to be filled mostly with righteous techie outrage right now due to the changes, or measured fan-boy defences of the decision making going on in the background. One reviewer summed up Unity as a netbook platform and GNOME shell as a mobile phone interface, while all end users lose from the jostling for prominence.

Who knows . . . the "Linux Community" freaked out when KDE 4 came out. Most people did not even notice, and those that did seem to be working along with the changes just fine.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Trading Pop Art Like Baseball Cards

Another large image by Warhol, a “Self Portrait” in four parts, triggered the other epic bidding match of the day. Dated 1964, it established the auction record for any Warhol self-portrait at $38.44 million.
This article is written as if the journalist of the New York Times needs to stick their head in a paper bag to avoid hyper ventilating.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Laziness, Impatience & Hubris

I don't program in Perl, but its author, Larry Wall, is a great human being with some advice that goes way beyond making computers do things. (Link to the full interview.)

See also: This short documentary.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Another Humble Bundle

I spent several hours playing Trine, today. It's good fun, if you're willing to overlook the efficacy of shooting skeletons with arrows. (Link.)

Friday, April 01, 2011

Re-coded & Re-loaded.

With new crunchy bits of HTML5.

Please critique.

Imagining an amusing alternate dimension of popular art and music.

Music Video

Woodkid - Iron from WOODKID on Vimeo.

re-blogged from BoingBoing

I was recently watching some music videos on the inter-tubes, just to see what could be seen, and came quickly to the conclusion that this had become a redundant, irrelevant art form (if it ever really was more than an advertising spot for pop music records).

I bumped into this today which has a great aesthetic, and maybe changed my mind.

As a side note, I have noticed that more and more commercial video content made in the United States is blocked for me overseas, whether comedy, cartoon, or music . . . I do not really understand why except for some odd attempt by media conglomerates to "combat piracy" of content they have already made freely available.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Of the different types of architectural porn, this is my particular kink. I have a weakness for architectural imagery that shows the urban fabric obscenely condensed, distorted and multiplied. Enjoy the image-spam.

Vasco Mourão drawings look like David Macaulay's Piranesian nightmares. (link)(source)
Sashie Masakatsu condenses the Tokyo sprawl into hovering planetoids. (link)
Kazuhiko Kawahara recombines Japan's built environment into kaleidoscopic photo-collages. (link)
This slum was built in Hong Kong during British rule. It has since been demolished. It was frightening and inhumane, a structural and fire-safety nightmare, but was fascinating in its form. Follow the link to see a great sectional drawing of it. (link)
I have a love-hate relationship with cities. I think of them as beautiful super-organisms that draw sustenance by grinding-away at their inhabitants lives, one work hour at a time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Four Wonderful Python Applications

These are applications I like quite a lot, and use every day. They all happen to be written primarily in Python, which I find quite interesting. They all exemplify the do-one-thing-well philosophy, and are all fully cross-platform.
1. gPodder is a podcast subscription tool.
2. MyPaint is a cruft-free sketching program for drawing tablets. I do a lot of sketchbook-type stuff in MyPaint.
3. Exhaile is the music player I use. I find it is much faster than Banshee, which is the fully-featured Linux music player. And it has nicer playlist management than Rhythmbox. It is a young project, still, and has a few rough edges. But overall I find it highly useable.
4. Meld is a source code merging program. I code in Vim, but I like a nice friendly GUI for viewing my diffs.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Artist Unknown - Mind Fish

Too Long; Didn't Read It - Mr. Alex's Link Digest

I've decided to start posting the articles that I've have tabs open for in Firefox for longer than a week, but just never got around to reading, as a 'link digest' called TL;DR. I promise, I'll get around to reading all of this stuff eventually. I swear... I've just been really busy... You know how it is... I have horses... And I'm drunk... I'm a drunk man with horses... This is going to take a while to work out... Please stand by...

Photos of 'Expo 70'
Meanwhile, Back in the Other Gulf
Ubuntu Private Cloud Deployment Instructions
Space Stasis: What the Strange Persistence of Rockets can Teach us About Innovation

Speaking of Political Revolutions and Independent Video Games . . .

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet found on BoingBoing


P.S. - Al Jazeera English has been rocking my world while viewing Cyberspace news programming since that Astromen! post. Surprising quality of information, depth of reporting and analysis, and the first ones to the scene of every story - quoted and re-quoted across the every newsline talking about revolution in Egypt.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Teh Weekly Podcast Hoedown!

Yeehoo buckaroo! I've decided to start a new feature here at Astromen! called 'Teh Weekly Podcast Hoedown' in-which I, Mr. Alex, will provide a digest of the best-est, rootin-est, and tootin-est syndicated sound recordings I've allowed to pass into my mind-holes over the course of the past week (or so). As one of our three regular Astromen! readers, I'm sure you'll really appreciate it. Behold!

'Cyber-Lynching the Troublemakers' via Dan Carlin's unfortunately named Common Sense (rss). Dan delivers a monologue about the revisionist de-radicalization of Martin Luther King and flips the popularly accepted definition of the term 'conspiracy theory' on its head.

'On Death In Tolkien's World' via Corey Olsen's The Tolkien Professor (rss). A fascinating conversation about mortality and immortality in JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth, which explains both the current spiritual state of Dick Cheney and makes elves much more interesting than they ever deserved to be.

'Temperate Rice Permaculture' via The Agroinnovations Podcast (rss). Learn how the future of sustainable food is eel meat harvested from a duck-filled rice paddy grown with your own urine. Onward hippie soldiers!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Axe Cop

Rediscover your inner hyper-active five year old . . .

Axe Cop knew that they would need to chase the Boss to Zombie World.

"We are going to need to change Wexter into a dragon so that he can fly us to Zombie World."

"But he is already a giant lizard that can fly."

"To get to Zombie World you need a dragon with rocket wings. Plus, dragons are awesome."

This web comic was created by a five year old and his 29 year old brother.

Monday, January 17, 2011