MonthFebruary 2009

Watchmen, Discovery style

watchman discovery

(via Mechangel)

Forget the Seattle PI, it’s all about the West Seattle Blog

I know I’m stating the obvious, but if I brought anything away from last night’s journalist mash-up, No News Is Bad News, it’s that West Seattle Blog is HOT, HOT SHIT right now.

The premise of the event was … well, I don’t remember. But, what it became was a chance for 150ish journalists and a few of their subjects to come together in one room, talk about the state of the industry, pontificate on how we got where we are and who’s to blame, and toss around ideas for how to save QUALITY JOURNALISM (not necessarily ink and paper). West Seattle Blog, perhaps more than any other voice in the room, is demonstrating an idea, a business model, and a way to preserve local journalism. They have skin in the game. They’re making it work. They’re not just talking about it, they’re doing it. And doing it well. But they’re not saying they’ve found the digital news solution, either. They’ve found something that works in West Seattle, not necessarily the rest of the country or even the city.

Full Story: Seattle Weekly

West Seattle Blog

(via Jay Rosen)

Quality of Life entry on Appropedia

Appropedia’s entry on happiness research and happiness economics. Lots of research quoted.

See also:

Take Back Your Time

How to Use Your Character Strengths

How to Make Liquid Magnets (ferrofluids)


How to guide at

(Thanks Nova!)

Recession Hacking: a history of alternative currency

In his book The Future of Money, Lietaer points out – as the government did yesterday – that in situations like ours everything grinds to a halt for want of money. But he also explains that there is no reason why this money should take the form of sterling or be issued by the banks. Money consists only of “an agreement within a community to use something as a medium of exchange”. The medium of exchange could be anything, as long as everyone who uses it trusts that everyone else will recognise its value. During the Great Depression, businesses in the United States issued rabbit tails, seashells and wooden discs as currency, as well as all manner of papers and metal tokens. In 1971, Jaime Lerner, the mayor of Curitiba in Brazil, kick-started the economy of the city and solved two major social problems by issuing currency in the form of bus tokens. People earned them by picking and sorting litter: thus cleaning the streets and acquiring the means to commute to work. Schemes like this helped Curitiba become one of the most prosperous cities in Brazil.

But the projects that have proved most effective were those inspired by the German economist Silvio Gessell, who became finance minister in Gustav Landauer’s doomed Bavarian republic. He proposed that communities seeking to rescue themselves from economic collapse should issue their own currency. To discourage people from hoarding it, they should impose a fee (called demurrage), which has the same effect as negative interest. The back of each banknote would contain 12 boxes. For the note to remain valid, the owner had to buy a stamp every month and stick it in one of the boxes. It would be withdrawn from circulation after a year. Money of this kind is called stamp scrip: a privately issued currency that becomes less valuable the longer you hold on to it.

One of the first places to experiment with this scheme was the small German town of Schwanenkirchen. In 1923, hyperinflation had caused a credit crunch of a different kind. A Dr Hebecker, owner of a coalmine in Schwanenkirchen, told his workers that if they wouldn’t accept the coal-backed stamp scrip he had invented – the Wara – he would have to close the mine. He promised to exchange it, in the first instance, for food. The scheme immediately took off. It saved both the mine and the town. It was soon adopted by 2,000 corporations across Germany. But in 1931, under pressure from the central bank, the ministry of finance closed the project down, with catastrophic consequences for the communities that had come to depend on it. Lietaer points out that the only remaining option for the German economy was ruthless centralised economic planning. Would Hitler have come to power if the Wara and similar schemes had been allowed to survive?

Full Story: The Guardian

(via Recession Hacking Wiki)

Ferrofluid Sculpture by Sachiko Kodama

The body of the tower was made by a new technique called “ferrofluid sculpture” that enables artists to create dynamic sculptures with fluid materials. This technique uses one electromagnet, and its iron core is extended and sculpted. The ferrofluid covers the sculpted surface of a three-dimensional iron shape that was made on an electronic NC lathe. The movement of the spikes in the fluid is controlled dynamically on the surface by adjusting the power of the electromagnet. The shape of the iron body is designed as helical so that the fluid can move to the top of the helical tower when the magnetic field is strong enough.

More Info: Sachiko Kodama’s Web Site

(Thanks Ian!)

Turning Shipping Containers Into Customizable, Affordable Housing

shipping container house

We recently started following the development of a cool new project taking root at Clemson University in South Carolina. Architecture faculty Martha Skinner and Doug Hecker and Landscape Architecture faculty Pernille Christensen are working with their students to design livable, sustainable dwellings using the large shipping containers sent to Caribbean nations.

According to assistant professor Caitlyn Dyckman, the containers are generally considered waste because it’s more expensive to bring them back to port than to leave them in the Caribbean. But the right redesign approach could turn these large vessels into viable housing.

“Our goal for the initial start up phase of the project is to come up with a design that, like the ISO container, can navigate the many different scenarios — Haiti, Dominica, Jamaica etc. — in the Caribbean, and at the same time be “open” enough to take root and adapt so that families can take ownership of the dwelling to meet their needs but within their means,” says Hecker.

Full Story: WorldChanging

See also: Shipping container home kit.

Why the change?

I’ve been running this site since 2000. And I actually started work on it in late 1999. After nearly a decade working on the site, it was just time for a change. A lot of things have happened and changed since I started Technoccult, and I’ve changed quite a bit personally (remember, I was 18 when I started this site!) It seemed like it was time to send Technoccult to be with Stare, Irreality, and Key 23/64 in that big web site in the cloud and move on.

But I didn’t want to start all over with a brand new site – it’s hard to launch a new site in this info-glut. Besides, the site has grown and changed with me over the years. I realized I could follow the lead of Diebold and Blackwater: same thing, different name. I could keep the history, but start fresh at the same time. Well, that’s the theory. We’ll see how it turns out.

The focus of this site has been gradually changing over the years, and that evolution will continue. Don’t worry, I didn’t decide to just scrap the old site and start a barbie doll collector blog or anything. I think regular readers will still find quite a lot enjoy here. There won’t be a lot of occult/magical related posts anymore, but that’s always only been a small part of the overall package (and it’s been diminishing over time).

There will be more posts dedicated to media criticism, mobile technology, and politics than before (especially since I’m merging into this site as well). I expect to be amping up my coverage of alternative energy and other sustainability issues as well. But you can still expect to find information about obscure cults, outsider art, and other weirdness.

I want to thank everyone for reading for all these years, and TiamatsVision, Bill Whitcomb, Fell, and all the other guest bloggers that have graced these pages over the years.

Stick around, I promise to make it worth your while.

James Curcio, John Harrigan, and Joe Matheny join forces for film project

DPRGRM/Plotlite announced a project today that forges a new path in independent cinema by bringing together real world experience and film in a unique way. ‘Y’ brings an audience inside the creation of a modern myth. The audience will become actual cast members, and be immersed in the story in real time. The film crew will also be part of the story as well as part of the cast, therefore creating a total immersive experience that bridges the traditional proscenium of audience/performer.

The ambitious staging and shooting technique is enhanced by the premise that in the future, government facilities, such the as one depicted in this film, will have to turn to unorthodox means of funding, such as contracting the facility out as the subject of a reality based TV show. The actual crew will be made up of news, reality and documentary style cinematographers and the production will be filmed entirely in the Cinma vrit style.

Written by John Harrigan and James Curcio, and directed by Joseph Matheny, Y is a unique production fusing characters from Curcios second published novel, Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning and Harrigans screenplay GraveLand, currently in pre production.

Full Story: Joe Matheny’s Blog

Tearful Atlanta Cops Express Remorse for Shooting 92-Year-Old Kathryn Johnston, Leaving Her To Bleed to Death in Her Own Home While They Planted Drugs in Her Basement, Then Threatening an Informant So He Would Lie To Cover It All Up

Radley Balko writes:

Kathryn Johnston’s death is tragic. But the real tragedy here is that had the cops found a stash of marijuana in her basement that actually did belong to her–say for pain treatment or nausea–her death would have faded quickly from the national news, these tactics would have been deemed by most to be wholly legitimate, and we probably wouldn’t still be talking about her today.

These cops were evil. But they worked within an evil system that’s not only immoral on its face, but is rife with bad incentives and plays to the worst instincts in human nature.

Full Story: the Agitator

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