November 30, 2007

Site that Helps You Identify Tunes by Humming

Still in beta. I tried it on something obscure; it kinda worked but obviously needs more users to help build up its database. It was fun hearing all the goofy hummings from other users around the world, though.

Warning: this is definitely another one of those sites I warned you about here; plus, you have to give it access to your computer microphone, plus since my mic is part of my camera, I had to give it access to my camera. However, at least for now, you don't have to register in order to search by humming.

Cool Czech Book Covers from the 1920's and 30's

. . . here.

Product Placement in Art Museums

The recent New York Times article about galleries paying museums to help finance exhibitions of artists represented by said galleries reminded me of a comment by David Lynch:

Also, the common view of politicians' solicitation of donations as "shakedowns."

Fine if you're an open, paid advocate for a certain party or point of view; not so fine if you purport to represent the general public or an independent point of view. The apparent conflict of interest undermines public confidence in the integrity of public institutions.

That said, I love the look of Takashi Murakami's platinum and aluminum Golden Buddha in the first pic above.

(Thanks to snarky for the tip on the Lynch clip!)

November 27, 2007

The Freeway Blogger's T.G. Blogapalooza

This guy made my day. Here's another link to his blog post about it, where you can comment and cheer him on.

Happy holidays, b.t.w.!

Internet Bill of Rights?

According to eGov monitor, Italy and Brazil have "endorsed a joint declaration committing themselves to reach as soon as possible a shared and planned resolution of network rights," to be "prioritized" at the 2008 Internet Governance Forum in New Delhi.

Issues to be addressed would include privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, free access to information and knowledge, universal accessibility, network neutrality, interoperability, open standards, the right to innovate, a fair and competitive market and consumers' safeguards.

Great idea. Who gets to write it? And how can we get it in the U.S.?

November 22, 2007

A New Game for Middle Eastern Markets & the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

I came across a new computer game, Arabian Lords, "inspired by the rise of Islam during the 7th – 13th centuries" and "targeted at Middle Eastern markets," which at first struck me as unintentionally hilarious (e.g., that demented gleam in the Arabian Lord's eye! {click on the image to enlarge}). As I dug for amusing details, things got curiouser and curiouser – the maker of the game seems to have done most of its work for the U.S. gummint or RW constituencies.

From the Arabian Lords site:

Rule a Powerful Empire in the Ancient Middle East!

Travel back in time and become an enterprising merchant lord during the Rise of Islam. Start with one palace and expand to rule an entire city! But beware the perils of power – as you gain prestige you must outmaneuver and defeat other rival factions. . . .

Craft your beautiful Middle Eastern city!
Send Beggars, Thieves and Vandals to sabotage your opponent!
Hire Musicians, Poets and Bards to keep your markets thriving!

Here’s the first round of hints and tips from the AL development team!

Residential Districts are very important to control. Taking control of Residential Districts is the quickest way to increase your population capacity (in addition to expanding and upgrading stalls within a Residential District). And if you suddenly lose control of a District, it’s the quickest way to throw your entire mercantile empire into chaos. . . .

While the overuse of personal security forces can drive down your popularity with the people, it’s important to use Bodyguards to patrol and protect your Districts. The City Guard is reliable, but not good enough. Maintaining your own defense force can be a big help, especially in Residential Districts.

(Would the desaturated guys be the Bodyguards?)

Arabian Lords is a creation of BreakAway Games. Wikipedia says , BreakAway is one of the largest developers of serious games, having developed several high-profile serious games for the U.S. military and the U.S. Department of Justice . . . . The company has strategic relationships with AAI, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, GMA Industries, and General Dynamics, among others. The company's ability to form such relationships is the direct result of many years of experience developing military models and operational PC-based warfare simulations for the military. The United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Office of the Secretary of Defense Net Assessment (OSD), the Army War College, the Navy War College, the National Defense University, the Joint Forces Command Joint Experimentation Directorate and many other governmental and military organizations have also used BreakAway-developed software.

BreakAway's site says, Our 100+ employees have collectively shipped hundreds of titles in strategy, action/stealth, and sports games—and developed a core competency in creating tools for modeling, simulation, and visualization. This technology has become the mōsbē™ desktop development studio, a strategy-based platform designed to enable military, homeland security, medical, and corporate customers solve real-world problems with the situational realism and experiential engagement of game-based simulation.

Our Clients Include:

• Microsoft
• The Walt Disney Companies
• Joint Forces Command
• Office of the Secretary of Defense – Net Assessment
• United States Air Force
• Institute for Defense Analysis
• Department of Justice / National Institute of Justice
• Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
• Rockwell Collins
• Northrop Grumman
• Boeing
• General Dynamics
• Lockheed Martin
• Booz Allen & Hamilton
• International Center for Non-Violent Conflict
• Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation
[among others.]
Clusty-ing the International Center for Non-Violent Conflict:

In a report about Bush's Freedom House speech, the Financial Times (March 30, 2006) reported that [Freedom House] had received U.S. government funding to undertake clandestine activities in Iran. Reported the newspaper: "Few in the Washington audience on Wednesday realized that Freedom House . . . is one of several organizations selected by the State Department to receive funding for clandestine activities inside Iran. Peter Ackerman, chairman of the board of trustees, who introduced Mr. Bush, is also the founder of a separate organization that promotes non-violent, civic disobedience as a form of resistance to repressive regimes. His International Center for Non-Violent Conflict has organized discreet 'workshops' in the Gulf emirate of Dubai to teach Iranians the lessons learned from east European movements. . . . Mr. Ackerman, who is very wealthy from an earlier career as a financier, says he does not accept government money. Questioned by the FT, Freedom House confirmed it had received funding from the State Department for activities in Iran. It declined to give details but said it was not involved in Mr. Ackerman's work in Dubai.


November 8, 2007

AT&T Whistleblower: Telecoms Do Not Deserve Immunity

Former AT&T technician Mark Klein says that, at the U.S. government's request, AT&T has installed numerous, massive facilities that have been indiscriminately copying all internet traffic, even that of users who are not AT&T customers but whose communications were routed through AT&T's system. As he states in this video, “These installations only make sense if they’re doing a huge, massive domestic dragnet on all internet traffic in the United States.” He also says the telcos are intimately familiar with the constitutional issues from having dealt with warrants for wiretapping, etc., and knew full well that the government's program was in gross violation of the rights of millions of U.S. citizens. (My summary includes some details from an interview with Klein aired yesterday on NPR.)

Panning for Gold in Low Places

Reported on yahoo (with photo from Reuters):

"NEW YORK (Reuters) - . . . a local restaurateur unveiled a $25,000 chocolate sundae on Wednesday, setting a Guinness world record for the most expensive dessert.

[ * * * ]

"The dessert . . . is infused with 5 grams (0.2 ounces) of edible 23-karat gold and served in a goblet lined with edible gold. At the base of the goblet is an 18-karat gold bracelet with 1 carat of white diamonds.

"The sundae is topped with whipped cream covered with more gold and a side of La Madeline au Truffle from Knipschildt Chocolatier, which sells for $2,600 a pound." (More at the link above.)

Let the poor pan?

I'm going to have to add a new quote by Norman O. Brown to my "[t]houghts for the year or whatever" in the side bar at left.

Adam and the Ants

Thank goddess for friends like snarky (via Merlin Mann) who help give me a clue re- what I missed at the time.

November 2, 2007

Maira Kalman's Principles of Uncertainty

I had no idea so many of my favorite things -- the illustrated version of The Elements of Style, (un)FASHION, so many New Yorker covers -- all came from one person (here's her TED talk):

And check out her painted blog ("plog"?) on the New Yorker site.