January 17, 2010
Valentino Braitenberg's 1984 book, Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology was a seminal work for its discussion of how one might design a system (biological or otherwise) in order to generate behavior like that seen in beings with brains. He embarks on a series of thought experiments in which he creates thirteen "vehicles" through simple components that (arguably) display intelligent behavior, evolving in a Darwinian fashion to demonstrate what appears to be high-level cognition. [more inside]
Wu Tang Vs. The Beatles. You know you want it.
Today marks the 116th anniversary of the American-backed coup d'état of Queen Liliuokalani's constitutional monarchy of Hawaii. Led by a group of American politicians, businessmen and sugar planters, the coup resulted in Hawaii's annexation five years later, to a formal apology 100 years later, and to continued controversy about Hawaii's status as a state.
Wyclef Jean's charity is coming under heavy fire for being unaccountable and ill-prepared to actually distribute emergency aid, despite aggressive fundraising. By contrast, CARE had a staff of 133 in Haiti even before the earthquake hit, has a long track record of providing disaster relief around the globe for decades, and the highest rating from CharityNavigator.org, an independent site that evaluates nonprofits' efficiency and capacity. CARE staff are blogging from the field and you can follow their Haiti updates on Twitter. [more inside]
A brilliant farce (or is it) The Antichrist Conspiracy, Get ready to dig deep into the world wide web of conspiracy. Learn about the Luciferians, the Freemasons, and the Metafilter-moderator-cabal who together with the dark lord of hell and Yonkers is trying to harvest your organs for Satan. [more inside]
New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. appears close to announcing that the paper will begin charging for access to its website, according to people familiar with internal deliberations. After a year of sometimes fraught debate inside the paper, the choice for some time has been between a Wall Street Journal-type pay wall and the metered system adopted by the Financial Times, in which readers can sample a certain number of free articles before being asked to subscribe. The Times seems to have settled on the metered system. Will this be a success? A Harris poll released earlier this month found that 77 percent said they wouldn't pay anything to read a newspaper's stories on the Web. Of those who indicated they were willing to be charged for access to content, 19 percent would pay between $1 and $10 a month.
This year, ubiquitous yellow binge-eating sphere Pac-Man turns 30. At last, his traumatic origin story can be told: The Three Stigmata Of Pac-Man. [more inside]
"Title Magazine is a bimonthly online publication which collaborates with writers and artists to bring readers a collection of works that focuses on leading individuals and appealing topics in the art/design, music, and fashion culture." Interviewees include Fennesz, Richard Skelton, Aaron Ruell, Nosaj Thing, The XX, Amiina, and others.
Vulture’s Critics’ Poll of the worst movies of 2009.
WE ARE VR. When the show VR Troopers was canceled, the cast and crew got drunk, dubbed over part of an episode and threw in some outtakes. Via the Something Awful Forums.
Poochinski is a failed 1990 pilot that cast Peter Boyle as a cop killed in the line of duty who is then reincarnated as a talking bulldog muppet. A promo is here, and the full pilot has also been uploaded (parts 2 and 3).
"In 1969, Sheldon Feldner contacted Marvel Comics, asking if one of Marvel's artists would be interested in designing costumes for a production of William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar by the University Theatre Company at Santa Cruz. As luck would have it, the Kirby family had recently moved to California..." Jack Kirby's designs for the production.
Competition Competition 2010, at Architizer is an entirely new kind of architectural award that chooses its winner from the un-rewarded competition entries of 2009.
How do you explain the struggle for civil rights to a kindergartner? Pictures? Songs? Crafts? Puzzles? Construction paper in rainbow colors?
Andreas Bick's blog post about "dispersion of sound waves in ice sheets" made the rounds a few days ago. Now he has taken the opportunity "to draw the attention to some other very interesting webpages concerning the sound of ice".
Queens of Poland Long review/essay at the DRB on Michał Witkowski's Lubiewo (forthcoming in English translation as Lovetown; extract here), a book about gay life in Poland both in the days of communism and the subsequent Third Republic.
The Imperial Palaces of Tsarskoye Selo (nowadays Pushkin), near St. Petersburg, contained many invaluable cultural treasures that were plundered or destroyed during the Second World War. Most famous among them was the fabled Amber Room, whose disappearance has soured diplomatic relations between Germany and Russia ever since (the Germans can't find it back). Some claim that another, much more secret room of the Catherine Palace was also plundered. However, in this case, the Russian authorities deny that it ever existed. [more inside]
"No one guessed the truth, which was simpler, and therefore stranger, than their wildest theories: that the scared young woman so hotly pursued by South Carolina police, the Secret Service, federal marshals and even the U.S. Army was actually on a bizarre and misguided journey of self-discovery." Rolling Stone reports on the strange case of Esther Reed: The Girl Who Conned The Ivy League. (via Metachat)