"Books, Records, Films -- these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the damn truth." - High Fidelity

June 29, 2012

A Call for a Distributed Wikipedia

I'm tired of seeing Jimmy Wales's face when I go to wikipedia.  He's not the subject of the article Bridges and tunnels in New York City and when I go there, I shouldn't see his picture, I should see a picture of a Bridge or a Tunnel, preferably in New York City.

It's time for wikipedia to grow up and leave the webpage model behind.  This same arguement also works for facebook, but I'm going to talk about Wikipedia today.  Now first, be forewarned.  I don't really know how to actually do any of this.  I'm sure there's some very complicated technical reasons why my solution shouldn't be implemented immedately, but then again I'm sure there's also some thought laziness and entrenched ideas trying to keep the genie locked in the bottle. Forewarned, I'm technically a historian who dabbles in technology, but I've also studied a bit of english, so I'm full of the bullshit, lock stock and ready to go.

First let's talk about the problem.

1. Wikipedia uses a lot of web traffic.

2. Web Traffic costs money

3. Wikipedia feels the need to put Jimmy Wales' face on every wikipedia page, annoying myself and countless others.*

I'm bored with the problem.  Let's talk about the solution.

What is a Distributed Wikipedia?  
- A distributed wikipedia is an encylopedia that you share.  
- You download a copy and then host the copy for others.
- An "open graph" for wikipedia articles.

How would I make one?  
 - Package the wikipedia into individual article packages.
 - Package the wikipedia into subject based packages.
 - Create a program where users could torrent and host the packages.
 - Create a browser plugin that would search the local wikipedia first and when the information is current, direct the user to their local copy of the wikipedia.

How would I use one?  
You would use the Distributed Wikipedia just like the normal one.  You'd search, and the computer would direct you to the local copy.  When breaking news is occuring, you'd be directed to the live wikipedia, although at some point the torrent updating program could be so fast that it wouldn't matter.  (in fact you'd probably be downloading valueable information as more people would be able to track and store the changes as they occur.)

How would it be different?
Wikipedia would not have to buy so many servers and use so much web traffic.  Most importantly they could stop putting Jimmy Wales's face on every single page (which itself is an ironic waste of web traffic).

Other solutions, how would this work for eliminating facebook?
Once the distributed "article" (information) publishing system has been created, an encrypted version will be able to easily rise up and kill facebook.  A true social network, where you store a copy of your friends information (even "blacknet/dark information" that they could encrypt and you couldn't see) is the obvious solution to the facebook privacy problem. (yes, there are risks in new software and could be viruses and breakins, but the current situation where one company owns all of your information and it's not encrypted isn't really acceptable in the long run while encryption technology still exists.  At a certain point, people will wake up from the spell of post-privacy and demand a return to reasonable privacy, or at the very least the technology will present itself that will make the change transparent to them, and perhaps all the advertising data generated in this period will be used for graduate studies into turn of the century Americana.)  

Again, I'm not a computer scientist, but I would like to start a process of describing this until someone invents it.  Thank you.  (this has worked before when I started describing an app that would allow me to check off habits everyday and keep track of streaks and then found the incredible "Habit App".)

* This is due to their totally awesome and lauditority stand against advertising.  Advertising is the worst kind of anti-information and Wales & co. have a bold and righteous position in their anti-anti-information stand.  Wikipedia should be about information first and foremost.  Fuck Advertising.  (that said, everything I've got is covered with ads right now because I'm unemployed and poor and begging for pennies.  please click away and buy from my sponsers whoever the great google chooses them to be.  Full disclosure I've been totally and adfree and unpopular for over a decade.  If all those pennies I ignored could have turned blogging into a second job and made me understand how to generate page views and audience like the Oatmeal, maybe I wouldn't be so poor and I could just sit and think and help people for a job, explain things.)

Clipping Limits Delenda Est!

June 22, 2012

Cody goes to Burning Man 2011

In the year 2011, my friend Cody went to Burning Man wearing a GoPro camera on his head. Burning Man will never be the same.

June 18, 2012

139 Burning Man Tickets for sale by just 3 Scalpers on StubHub

This is what it has come to.  Three lone scalpers are selling 65, 49 and 25 tickets on StubHub.  139 Burning Man Tickets...

I don't know what to say about this. 

Oh Prometheus, Oh so disappointing

Spoilers ahead.

I really wanted this movie to be good.  I love the original Alien.  I love how nothing happens in the first 30 minutes and it builds the suspence.  I love the darkness of the ship and the haunting evil of Giger's Alien designs.  I really wanted to love Prometheus. 

Let's start out at the core of the problem.  The story they are telling is not the myth of Prometheus.  It's the story of Pandora.  I don't know how sucha big movie company with so many people working for it could make such an obvious mistake, but there it is.  One myth is about a god who brings fire (enlightenment/self awareness) to man.  The other is about a girl who opens a box and lets evil out.  Let's see. They flew across the galaxy to a box full of evil, opened it and let it out.  Maybe they couldn't use the name because they just used it in Avatar, but Avatar is the kind of movie where the unobtainable metal is named unobtainium.  If the myth fits, why not wear it.

The second problem is that this is a horror movie, not a science fiction/suspence film.  It's a big problem.  It's why characters who have sex are dying off in troves and why the two scientists who struck out on their own were the first to die (also they were afraid, fear leads to death), but it's not the movie I signed on for.  It's even started to get a little gory.

Other problems.  Charlize Theron is not a robot, but she should be.  It'd be a great character point, especially if she had sex with the guy anyway.  And speaking of the time she had sex with the guy so that he would be off the bridge and no one would be there when the distress signal came in from the scientists, couldn't we have seen some of that sex?  Wouldn't that have improved the scene if crosscut with the scientists death (which yes, I must agree Dave on this one, their death was horribly scripted and made no sense that the scientist would try to make friends with a hissing cobra.  Not that I think it was a good idea, but if you're going to do it, at least make the alien cute.  Give it eyes.  But again, that's a horrible road to go down, and I'm sure the designer wouldn't do it.  I don't know if HR Giger is alive (he is), but he would certainly roll over in his grave if you replaced his epic alien designs with a cutesy one eyed muppet). 

But let's get to the scene at hand.  The reason I paused the film and started this blog.  No it's not the scene where the robot starts to turn on them ala HAL9000.  That was the scene where I shut it off and went to bed to watch the second half today.  This is the scene right after the Doctor has had her space age machine abortion to get the alien out of her and is pretty much running around the stage with her stomach stapled, clearly bleeding to death.  She's just met with the rich guy who's not dead ala Contact (really, really ala Contact) and has bought his confusing nonsense hook, line and sinker.  She puts on a spacesuit and is going back to the house of death to meet with the Aliens who invented the Alien, probably for a long non-entertaining speech which will attempt to make sense of the mess of a plot that we're in.  But here's what really has me going here.  The captain busts in to her quarters.  He's never been here before and has no reason to be here.  He's not her lover or her friend.  He's the captain (he also had a ridiculous amount of knowledge that he seems to have aquired in some sort of flash of illumination, maybe he saw VALIS).  The captain then proceeds to argue about turning the mission around and taking the ship out of here.  Over the sink.  He's standing on one side of the sink and she's standing on the other.  Arguing about leaving.  This arguement should take place on the bridge with Charlize Theron who while not the captain (I think we're using the word pilot here) is clearly in charge of the ship.  Why is he not arguing with her on the bridge (they also had sex, which would add to the tone of the arguement)?  That's how out of control this movie has gotten.  You've got two dead scientists, a doctor who was infected and had to be blowtorched, another one of the scientists came back to life and attacked your ship with superhuman strength, again having to be blowtorched, the other doctor had an alien baby inside of her and then had it removed by a surgery pod (all of this happened on a ship full of computers, and presumably security cameras, but no one seemed to notice this naked girl running through the halls giving herself an abortion that turned out to be some kind of octopus squid monster).  All this has happened, but we should stay.  I feel like it's time for a classic Bill Paxton line from Aliens, "maybe you're not keeping up with current events, but we just got our asses kicked out there."  Of course this movie would be better if it was copying Aliens.  Especially with the plot.  We should know that they're weapons.  We should know that we're going there to get them.  We should have someone like Paul Riser with us, to represent corporate greed and a desire for an unstoppable army.  A madmen hell bent on wiping out planets who's heard legends of an alien force, so henious, the entire galaxy united together to build a prision.  A prison on the edge of the known universe, inside an exploded star.  A rotted out old hunk of a planet.  More of an asteroid really.  Where the universe hid it's worse creation, a species so evil....  And then they go there and let it out in the name of corporate greed.  That's a good movie.  Not what we have here, where the rich guy from Contact wants to live forever so he trusts two scienists, a few cave paintings and an issue of the Weekly World News and then goes on an space ride across the galaxy in search of his foutain of youth.  I have an idea for the rich guy, why not just stay in stasis?  If you have stasis boxes and tons of money, you might not be able to live forever, but you could take 10-20 year naps and have them wake you up if the technology changes.  If you started early enough in your life and had the wealth to set up a fool proof system to guard your chamber (and a helluva good power supply) you could stall until better medical technologies (or the ability to transfer your consciousness into a computer) could be invented.  It makes no sense to travel across the galaxy on the advice of a few tabloid scientists.  Even if you have your uptight blonde chick and nazi Lawerence of Arbia loving robot with you, it doesn't make sense.

I'm now going to try and watch the rest of this movie and hopefully not be disapointed more by the alien's speech that sums up the movie.

(live blogging more or less)

Now the captain is worried about brining the alien on the ship.  Minor concerns.

Big speech with Charlize and the old guy.  Fingers crossed that she's his daughter.  Twisted messages.  I think she was gonna suck him off.  There it is.  Father.  Predictibilitictable.  And the robot is the son he always wanted.  "I didn't think you had it in you."  Now the scientist is joking with the robot that infected her boyfriend and tried to grow an alien in her belly.  Now the robot is talking like a creepy child about killing his parents.  This thing gets worse all the time.  All this money.  All these sets and their goofy glowing helmets that light the actors faces, what a waste.

It's a ship, of course it's a ship.  It wasn't a city was it?  They found it because it was square shaped and stood out from the natural landscape.

Now the alien they traveled so far to meet just ripped the head off their robot (not a good idea to greet aliens with an athromprophic robot, just seems duplicitious on the face of things) and killed the old rich guy.  The entire movie for a fight scene?  "It's nothing", the old man's last words to the decapitated face of his robot son.  Now the captain just agreed to leave his doctor friend behind without a second thought and teh alien guy is launching a big weapon seat.  I recognize this scene, I think it was one of the production stills from back when I thought this was going to be a cool movie.  O that was such a long time ago.

Lots of cool graphics and animations as the spaceship becomes active again and the doctor is blown out the exhaust ports.  I've seen this scene as well, in the terrible Indiana Jones and the space aliens movie that the shouldn't have made.  Now the doctor can breathe on the surface?  I thought the environment was created by the ship.  "If you don't stop it, there won't be any home to come back to."  I think I had that on my cliche bingo card.  How can they destroy this ship anyway?  Guess the captain is a scientist now.  He's really a jack of all trades. Good thing the minor characters who were never properly introduced are staying with the captain.  Charlize's brilliant idea to live on an escape pod still leaves her running through the ship during the emergency and now it looks like she's in a small crappy pod that took her to the surface where I think she's going to have a fistfight with the doctor who recently had an abortion and an alien baby.  Maybe she should have landed her pod further away from the where the ship they planned to run into was obviously going to crash.  That was really awful and gory and uneccessary.  Wow.  Epic stupidity and all of the remaining characters are crushed by falling ships.  I know you have to kill everybody in a horror movie, but what a lame way to do it and the whole time we never see any classic aliens walking around killing people.  I don't even know if this is supposed to be the same planet where Ripley finds the alien.  Suddenly oxygen is a problem for the doctor who aparently wasn't crushed.  She found some sort of ship.  I guess it's the captain's lifepod.  No idea why this movie is still going.  Why not kill them all and get it over with?

What a classically horrible horror movie.  The human creature attacks her, or maybe he was tryign to save her, as an even larger monster attacks.  Long drawn out death scene for the alien.  So much computer graphics blending into other computer graphics.  If only anything was real as the alien implants him.  I look at the door hinge of the ship and wonder... cgi?

The doctor cries on the planet's surface.  All this horror that Pandora has wrought.  Love how the robot is still alive.  Fingers crossed for another Lawernece of Arabia reference.  Good thing there was a working car right next to where she was crying.  Back to the pit and she wants her cross.  Why not just grab the robot head and get out of there?  (second time in this movie someone has been only a head)  Now she wants to go back to their planet and see why the creators decided to kill humanitiy?  This movie makes no sense.  Isn't it more about the alien being out of control?  Bad narration ends this trainwreck.  "I am still searching."

This movie makes no sense.

June 14, 2012

How to admire the Beats

How do you admire Jack Kerouac after you figure out that in the end he made horrible television appearances, hated his fans and fame and drank himself to death in his mother’s house? His friend Dean died drunk in a ditch in Mexico.  I forget his real name.  Burroughs probably wasted a Gastby’s worth of great novels on junk but never died and outlasted all comers.  Bukowski was a drunk.  Thompson a suicide.  

When you really come down to it, the Beat to admire is Allen Ginsberg.  Like Burroughs he lasted forever, but unlike Burroughs he didn’t allow drugs to reduce his output or his international effect.  He was a force to be reckoned with, not a former football player drinking himself to death.  

What was the real deal?  Kerouac wrote about a spirit he didn’t possess or a spirit he once had?  You read his books and are filled with a passion for another world, a world that now doesn’t exist, where you could bum from town to town and get decent jobs without identification and background checks and then be free to spend the money however you want in a multicolored galaxy of shanty towns that are now all converted into cemented over Walmart parking lots.  You can have any color you like as long as it’s black - Henry Ford.  

With Ginsberg there’s something different not only because his poem chronicled the entire group and encompassed a generation, but because he put on a sheet and traveled the world spreading his message and causing chaos wherever he went.  He spent his time with the flower children on the bus and he also got kicked out of quite a few countries for simply expressing his true being.  That’s power.  

Google search for Carlo Marx (Ginsberg) quotes from On The Road reminds me that the book is about to be raped by the movies, which they’re also doing again to Gatsby and I’m sure are lining up at Salinger’s grave to get to Catcher.  Speaking of Salinger, where’s the extra books?  Most disappointing literary non-event since Mark Twain’s autobiography (which is only disappointing because I have a copy and haven’t read it and my copy might be the wrong version).

This version seems to have an extra line. I really like it:

"America, when will your technicians wake up and abolish money?" -- Allen Ginsberg

June 9, 2012

Burners announce Anti-Scalping Strategy - Have Faith and Buy Late

StubHub Burning Man Scalpers enter Barganing Phase as Burners "Have Faith and Buy Late"

Burners stick together.  We won't pay more than face value for Burning Man tickets.  We'll wait.  We'll wait until the last minute, when the scalpers are desperate and they're forced to sell their tickets for face value or near face value.  This was our plan from the begining.  We'd discussed the importance of having faith and buying late several times at Burners against Scalpers and now our grand strategy is begining to work.  Scalpers are getting scared and dropping their prices below $1000 on the StubHub scalping website for the first time this year.  Important note:  This doesn't mean it's time to buy.  This is just the begining.  As the festival approaches, prices will continue to fall.  There's no reason to allow scalpers to double their money.  Just wait.  The desperation is about to take hold.  

Have Faith and Buy Late.  Let's drive these scalpers out of business.

Please sign the petition and Join Burners against Scalpers today!