MonthOctober 2010

Images From David Cronenberg’s Forthcoming Film About Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung

Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud in a Dangerous Method

David Cronenberg is directing a film about Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, starring Viggo Mortensen as Freud and Michael Fassbender and Jung. The film is based on “The Talking Cure” by Christopher Hampton. Ace Showbiz has some stills.

Aceshowbiz: First Official Images From Keira Knightley’s ‘Dangerous Method’

(Thanks James K!)

Future Shock Turns 40, Plus New Forecasts From the Tofflers

Alvin and Heidi Toffler

Future Shock just turned 40 years old and Alvin and Heidi Toffler gave some new forecasts at a recent dinner in their honor:

Many of the new Tofflerian predictions are merely predictable: China will rise; cities will grow; Social Security will cease to exist, and Iran’s leaders will remain irrational. Oh, and “work will continue to expand to fill whatever time and space is available.” We should have known.

Other scenarios are the breathlessly blue-sky, cornucopian forecasts you’d expect from the Tofflers and their acolytes: nanotech factories; quantum computing; resource wars giving way to limitless fresh water and clean energy, and bio-implants further blurring the line between man and machine. The Singularity may not be near, but it’s coming. The remainder bears testimony to the opportunities and vulnerabilities of a relentlessly networked world.

Fast Compay: Future Shock at 40: The Tofflers Stir Up “Cyberdust” With New Scenarios

(via John Robb)

See also:

Charlie Stross on Future Shock and Religious Tolerance

Future Shock documentary narrated by Orson Welles

“Limited Government” and the Tea Party

If my modest education isn’t getting in the way of my understanding, Peter Berkowitz’s argument is that the reason liberals don’t understand the Tea Party is because we somehow haven’t been taught that the United States is all about limiting the size of government.

See, according to Berkowitz that’s all the Tea Party is about: limited government. And all that stuff liberals have written about how the Tea Party is bankrolled by billionaires or how the Tea Party doesn’t reflect the views of the majority of Americans? Well, that’s non-sense because all we really need to understand is that government is supposed to be limited.

Here’s a particularly interesting bit from the column:

Mr. Dionne follows in the footsteps of progressive historian Richard Hofstadter, whose influential 1964 book “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” argued that Barry Goldwater and his supporters displayed a “style of mind” characterized by “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.” Similarly, the “suspicion of government” that the tea party movement shares with the Anti-Federalists, Mr. Dionne maintained, “is not amenable to ‘facts'” because “opposing government is a matter of principle.”

Berkowitz of course is only proving Dionne’s point. Berkowitz isn’t interesting in boring shit like facts or economics. He’s only interested in the ideology of “limited government.”

And is that really all the Tea Party movement is about? It doesn’t appear to be so:

Based on exhaustive research, a new report “Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the Size Scope and Focus of it National Factions,” demonstrates that despite Tea Party claims that its solely concerned with budget deficits, taxes and the power of the federal government, Tea Party membership and actions are permeated with radical views about race, national identity and other so-called social issues.

Why, in a “limited government” ideology is there room to spend millions of federal dollars on a border fence? Or to spend state resources enforcing racial profiling laws? Or for the government to prohibit a religious group from practicing their religion on their own private property? Or telling private citizen who should and should not be allowed to get married.

I think some people don’t understand the Tea Party because it makes no sense, even on the subject of “limited government”:

And nearly three-quarters of those who favor smaller government said they would prefer it even if it meant spending on domestic programs would be cut.

But in follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.”

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”

What people like Berkowitz can’t understand is that people like me want limited government too. We want to limit the government’s ability to harass and detain racial minorities. We want to limit the government’s ability to prevent people from practicing their religion. But, like the Tea Party and like most Americans, we also want to the government to do a few things. Where we disagree with the Tea Party is what limits we want.

Unprecedented Amounts of Money Spent to Attack Democrats This Year

NPR is doing a series on this election cycle’s spate of anonymous attack-ads. Here’s the jist of the problem:

Two such groups advertising in Pittsburgh are Americans for Job Security and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both are 501(c)s, organized under the tax code as nonprofits. The law says they can’t engage in politics as their primary purpose. It also says they can accept unlimited donations and don’t have to report their donors. Couple that with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, and you have a wide-open path for corporate money to flow into partisan politics.

Here’s an interesting tidbit buried at the bottom of the story (emphasis mine):

The ads in Pittsburgh attacked candidates of both parties, but the ones attacking Republicans were all from Democratic candidates or party committees, groups that have to disclose their donors. Not one ad from the supposedly nonpolitical groups attacked a Republican. All of those ads are aimed at Democrats.

NPR: ‘Nonpolitical’ Groups Target Democrats In Ad Blitz

And yes, attack ads do work. Read Everything You Think You Know About Politics and Why You’re Wrong for some insights into political campaigns.

A Treasure Trove for Autodidacts

dissecting a circle

Trevor Blake sent me this:

References & Resources for LessWrong

LessWrong is “community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality.” I’ve occasionally dipped into the blog, but never made much of a habit of it. But this reference page is excellent – the section on mathematics seems particularly useful. There are sections on artificial intelligence, machine learning, game theory, computer science, philosophy and more.

And via that resource page are two other amazing resources:

Khan Academy: A massive collection of free self-paced math and science lessons.

Better Explained: a site that, y’know, explains stuff. Like calculus.

Grant Morrison is on Twitter

Grant Morrison

The unofficial Grant Morrison Twitter account has been turned over to Grant Morrison and his wife Kristan. Or at least that’s what’s been tweeted from the account. There’s no confirmation on the official Grant Morrison web page, but that site hasn’t been updated in a couple years. Arthur Magazine tweeted about the new account, so it seems legit. Let’s just hope they keep the Twitter account updated!

And via that Twitter account, there’s a new interview with Mr. Morrison up on Wired now.

Update: Bleeding Cool also reported this.

RIP Benoit Mandelbrot

fractal by Grafika

Benoît B. Mandelbrot, a maverick mathematician who developed an innovative theory of roughness and applied it to physics, biology, finance and many other fields, died on Thursday in Cambridge, Mass. He was 85.

His death was caused by pancreatic cancer, his wife, Aliette, said. He had lived in Cambridge.

New York Times: Benoit Mandelbrot, Mathematician, Dies at 85

(image by Grafika)

Science Tarot

Science Tarot: 7 of Wands - Expansion

Science Tarot: 2 of Swords - Action

Science Tarot

Unlike so many of the cool tarot decks I’ve seen online, you can actually buy this as a full, printed deck.

(via Boing Boing thanks to Chris)

Green Cities and the Urban Operating System

PlanIT

PlanIT is building a city in Portugal as a test of its “Urban OS” concept, hoping to sell “instant cities” in China and Inida in the future.

“It’s a bit of a bloodbath really,” says Lewis, who began studying it while still at Microsoft. “They’re using techniques older than God. All of the technology is being used on the design end. No one can look into the future and ask ‘If I put better glass into this building, what does that do for energy efficiency down the road?’ You have developers building to do a quick flip, and eventually the building becomes so inefficient and so expensive to fix they have to knock it down. There’s no process and no lifecycle management. The industry is fragmented and the consolidation that’s happened everywhere else hasn’t happened here.”

A Harvard Business School case study (pdf) published earlier this year echoed this view. Despite being a $4.6 trillion global industry, construction firms have had little incentive to integrate, consolidate, or otherwise become more productive. While non-farming industries have made productivity gains averaging 80% since the 1960s, the construction industry has become 20% less productive over that span. “Studies suggested that up to 75% of construction activities typically added no value,” the authors noted.

A City in the Cloud: Living PlanIT Redefines Cities as Software

PlanIT plans to make constructing buildings, and cities, as efficient as manufacturing automobiles.

Buckminster Fuller, thou art avenged.

PlanIT will have competition from open_sailing‘s open source SwarmOS, which open_sailing co-founder Cesar Harrada considers a spiritual successor to The Walking City.

See also:

Cybersyn

17 Steps to Instant Success as a Lifestyle Designer

Colin Wright

1. Get a poofy haircut that only a rockstar could pull off.
2. Get rid of every thing you own, and make up for it by purchasing as much boutique yuppy clothing, shoes, and apparel that you can fit in a large backpack.
3. Use the backpack full of clothes and move to a foreign country with great beaches where you can feel wealthy by being around desperately poor people.
4. Talk about how many desperately poor people are around and how you wish you could help them.5. Take advantage of desperately poor people by leveraging your powerful American money against the pitiful local currency.
5. Take advantage of desperately poor people by leveraging your powerful American money against the pitiful local currency.

Read the rest: Beyond Growth: 17 Steps to Instant Success as a Lifestyle Designer

See also:

Lifestyle Design Sucks

My interview with Duff McDuffee and Eric Schiller of Beyond Growth

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