Friday, May 30, 2008

The Noble Savage

Thanks the Andy for the head-up!

A tribe of natives who have never met the modern world have been discovered in the Brazilian jungle.

This reminded me of the concept of the Noble Savage - first suggested by French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

The concept of the noble savage was inspired by European colonists' discovery of indigenous peoples in the Americas, Africa, and (later) Oceania. It captures the belief that humans in their natural state are selfless, peaceable, and untroubled, and that blights such as greed, anxiety, and violence are the products of civilization. In 1755 Rousseau wrote:

So many authors have hastily concluded that man is naturally cruel, and requires a regular system of police to be reclaimed; whereas nothing can be more gentle than him in his primitive state, when placed by nature at an equal distance from the stupidity of brutes and the pernicious good sense of civilized man. . . .

The more we reflect on this state, the more convinced we shall be that it was the least subject of any to revolutions, the best for man, and that nothing could have drawn him out of it but some fatal accident, which, for the public good, should never have happened. The example of the savages, most of whom have been found in this condition, seems to confirm that mankind was formed ever to remain in it, that this condition is the real youth of the world, and that all ulterior improvements have been so many steps, in appearance towards the perfection of individuals, but in fact towards the decrepitness of the species.

This was in stark contrast to the opposing view point held by Thomas Hobbes.

Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. . . .

In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Hobbes believed that people could escape this hellish existence only by surrendering their autonomy to a sovereign person or assembly. He called it a leviathan, the Hebrew word for a monstrous sea creature subdued by Yahweh at the dawn of creation.

A most interesting theory. Are our painted friends happy playing like children in the Garden of Eden, or if they knew about our lives, would they want education, health, and the other things commonly associated with civilisation? - war, famine, smallpox, STD's, excessive wealth? Are they really Noble Savages, or just Man without his full potential realised? Terry Pratchett said it rather well in one of his books.....

I didn't know I was downtrodden until you told me I was!

Is ignorance bliss? Hmmmmm........

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Leeds Gallery redux

I did a post last year about the Gallery Night Club in Leeds, and the re-unions they were doing. The next re-union is coming up soon, and Im off again, as they certainly know how to capture the atmosphere there. Steve Luigi (on his website) has written a little piece about the history of The Gallery - and he says it a load better than me. And yes, dear reader, I used to dance on the bar ALL the time lol. Any stage (even a bar), and the show-off in me wants to perform on it! lol

"The Leeds Gallery started out its life as a restaurant in 1986 called ‘Coconut grove’ in Lower Merrion Street, Leeds West Yorkshire. The restaurant was an upper class affair and also hosted a jazz club on the upper floor and a small nightclub called ‘Ricky’s’ in the basement. The Restaurant ran for approximately 2 years, hosting famous jazz artistes such as Ronnie Scott, George Melly, and many other jazz household names. It was ran and managed by Gianfranco and Gipinno Damone and owned by their famous father ‘Salvo’, already a restaurant owner in the City.

In 1987 the club was taken over by an ex DJ by the name of Paul Lamont who immediately turned the building into a full blown 3 floor nightclub and renamed it ‘The Gallery’ due to it’s upper floor having a balcony that resembled an art gallery with pictures that surrounded the balcony. The balcony was soon to be the main feature of the Gallery and helped change a lot of lives for the better. More will be explained later. The middle floor had a white grand piano, which actually stayed there for most of the clubs life, and there was a large bar that also played a huge part in the clubs history. Downstairs in the basement stayed as ‘Ricky’s’ nightclub, a somewhat separate affair for a time.

The club opened its doors in 1987 as an R&B club which was very successful for some 4 years, where it boasted some 1000 clubbers every Saturday night, by the day’s standards that was some mean feat, remembering that these were the days before the birth of the super club. The club ran its course as an R&B club until the owner ‘Paul’ came back from his travels of the clubs in the UK and decided that he didn’t want an R&B club anymore. I remember like it was yesterday, Paul came up into the DJ stand at the end of another packed Saturday night and said “Right Steve, as from next week its not an R&B club anymore”, I asked “what is it going to be then?” and Paul replied “RAVE”, I said “Does that mean that I have to change from an R&B DJ to a Rave DJ in a week?” and Paul replied “If you want a job, yes!” and the rest is history.
Fortunately for me, I had the year before opened a record shop, and was selling House, Rave and Techno, so I had all the records at hand, thank God!

This is where the ‘Gallery’ that we all know and love came to fruition. It was an instant success hosting more that 1500 Ravers every Friday and Saturday night. On Friday night it was known as ‘Bliss’, a very popular night that was hosted by Tim Garbot and Gez Utah (The Utah saints), and Tony Walker (Local DJ) and myself. Paul decided after a few weeks that mine and Tim’s music styles were very much alike, and decided to split us up, Tim, Gez and Tony on Fridays, and me and Richard Simpson (local DJ) on Saturday nights. Both nights were hugely popular filling to capacity most weeks. This is really where my knowledge of Friday nights grows a little dim, as I was too busy concentrating and promoting my night on Saturday. I booked many artistes and DJs to play at the club including such names as ‘Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Simon ‘bassline’ Smith, DJ Killer (10 year old DJ), Anne Savage, Dream Frequency, Flipped out, Love Decade, Baby D, Doop and many more big names of the day. The place was just hugely popular, to the point of being voted 2nd best venue in Europe in 1992, by no other than ‘Mixmag’ an international music magazine. Pete Tong quoted on his Radio 1 show that it was the “Maddest ever club that he had ever been to or played at!”, and Carl Cox exclaimed “I’ve never seen anything like it, AMAZING!” After the vote from ‘Mixmag’ people started coming from all over the world including America, India, and Australia to see what all the fuss was about. I remember some American guy coming up into the DJ stand when I was playing and saying “Shit Man, I can’t believe it, there’s nothing like this in the States, Out of this world”. I had to agree, it was amazing.

Apart from the great music and DJs, if it hadn’t been for the crowd, the club would have not been a success at all. Thousands of kids graced the building week in week out just to hear the massive tunes that were played nowhere else at that time. They affectionately named themselves ‘The Gallery Posse’, and spent all night dancing on the bar, and leaning over the balcony railings, arms outstretched to the gigantic inflatable globe in a hand, hung from the roof as though it was their God, and buzzing from the other revellers on the floor below doing the same to them and vice versa. They all came armed with their white gloves, glow sticks, face masks and sometimes full face WW2 gas masks and air horns WHAT AN ATMOSPHERE! Nothing has ever touched it to this day and it never will, as any ‘Gallery posse’ member will tell you. Now known as ‘The ‘G’ Crew’ and still swearing their allegiance to the best club that ever existed.

There is a sad AND a happy end to the legend that was ‘The Leeds Gallery’. Before the club closed, unfortunately ‘Paul Lamont’ passed away and was and is very sadly missed, after all, if it wasn’t for his foresight of things to come…………….well you know what I mean. The club was then handed down to Paul’s brother Chris and his wife. With all due respect, the club was never the same when Paul had gone and soon ran into financial difficulty. Other financial backers were recruited and they wanted their way with the running of the club as far as music policy was concerned, and they didn’t want the style of music being played that had actually made the club what it was? So it changed name and style of music and the ‘Leeds Gallery’ was gone for good.

That’s not quite the end of the story though, is it?
Leeds Gallery resident DJ Steve Luigi, has decided that the story is far from over, the club lives on in the hearts of ‘The ‘G’ Crew’, and in the reunion nights that are to be held in Leeds. (See forum for details)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Telectroscope

LONDON (AFP) - An arresting new artistic landmark is drawing crowds in London and New York, intrigued at being able to wave to each other through what is teasingly presented as a a huge Trans Atlantic tunnel.

From its London end next to City Hall on the south bank of the River Thames, tourists and locals can see people at the other end of the Telectroscope, by the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Tourists tend to wave or hold up signs reading "Hello from London" to people at the other end of the device, which emerges from the ground like a giant tunnel breaking through the surface after passing under the Atlantic.

But those behind the device -- which is understood to rely on more 21st-century technology to relay real-time images -- say it could serve more useful purposes.

"There are all sorts of possibilities -- you could arrange to meet friends in New York or even propose marriage down it," said Nicky Webb, head of the devices' production company, Artichoke.

With a name which sounds like something from a 1950s science fiction novel, the Telectroscope is the brainchild of 53-year-old British artist, Paul St George.

The website publicising his device, which opened to the public this month, includes spoof diagrams of how the "tunnel" was built, and explaining how a system of mirrors brings the images from either end.

Telling an imaginative tale of how his great-grandfather began the Trans Atlantic project, there is even a picture of the artist with shovel in hand in an underground tunnel.

"Hardly anyone knows that a secret tunnel runs deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean. In May 2008, more than a century after it was begun, the tunnel has finally been completed," it says.

More mundanely, the Telectroscope is thought to use a broadband Internet connection to provide high-resolution video of those looking into it, for a charge of one pound (two dollars, 1.25 euros) at the London end.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Sphynx cat

I came across these critters, Spooky and Leon somewhere online. I was fascinated by them and did a bit of research. Behold, the either hideous or cute Sphynx cat. I leave it up to you which it is! :)

The sphynx was first brought to Britain from Canada by Jan Plumb, 62, from Enfield, in 1988. She said: "It's a natural mutation. The first one was born in the mid- Sixties in Ontario."

A breeder of Siamese cats mated the hairless male with its mother which produced half a litter of hairless cats and so the sphynx was developed.

Mrs Plumb said: "Stroking it is like stroking a warm peach. They are very people-orientated. They talk to you. They are mischievous. If you want a lively cat, get a sphynx."

Sphynxes are said to be champion purrers, is very people-orientated and affectionate. They love attention! They will greet their owner when they come home and are very talkative. They are highly intelligent, playful, cuddly, often described as being "part dog, part child, part monkey, and part cat" - They like to snuggle next to you to sleep and they want to be under the covers. They have fun playing with appropriate cat toys and table tennis balls, most of all, they really love affection from their owner. Some owners have described the Sphynx as a "clown cat" - with it twisting and turning in mid-air and other antics it certainly can be a very humorous cat at times.

Sphynxes are essentially indoor cats as they have so little protection from adverse weather, and they do not like resting on cold surfaces. Their body temperature is a degree or two above the average for normal cats and they have voracious appetites to compensate for the heat loss.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Flying over Mars

Please paste this link into your browser . This is a digital animation of flying over Mars.

Combining data from orbital scans by the Mars Orbiter, and film taken from the ground level by the Mars Rover; they've combined them into a digital film.

As they say in Speed Racer, "Cool beans!"

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tropic Thunder

This is a movie I am very excited about. An action-comedy full of some of the best comedy actors around. It has a brilliant premise of a bunch of primadonna Hollywood stars making a Vietnam war movie when the director decides to drop them in the middle of a real war zone to make it look more real - without telling his actors!!

There are 2 trailers here. Watch the first teaser one. This gives a great set-up of the movie. Then watch the Redband trailer (the X rated one). This one really shows where they are going with it. It looks brilliant and I cant wait for this!! Robert Downey Jr is a god! :D

And a final little something for the weekend. WALL*E spotted in LA. Class!!!!

Wall-E Spotted in LA! from Blink on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Micro versus Macro

The Universe and everything in it is governed by maths. Geometric shapes are seen both at a molecular level, and at a level measured in light-years. Yet they are the same shapes.

Ah, Maths! :D

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Useless crap I must own one day # 47

Thanks to the good folk at Empireonline, I now have discovered another thing I would love to own if I didn't have bills to pay :D

"Okay, it's not news per-se but we have to make you aware of possibly the greatest piece of Star Wars-related tat ever created - the Wesco Star Wars R2-D2 Talking Ice Bucket With Han Solo Carbonite Ice Tray.

Yes that's right, for only £16.99, you could get your hands on a recpticle that re-creates the beeps and whistles of C-3PO's hetero life partner and a drink-cooling facsimilie of the Millennium Falcon owner's frozen grave. File under usless but awesome"

But even this pales into insignificance by the sheer awesomeness of the item at #1 - should I ever get some nice playing with cash and I've already bought a car, house, and had 3 holidays! lol

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Gegenschein and the Glory

So what the hell is the gegenschein, and what the hell is the glory?

"Is the night sky darkest in the direction opposite the Sun? No. In fact, a rarely discernable faint glow known as the gegenschein (German for "counter glow") can be seen 180 degrees around from the Sun in an extremely dark sky. The gegenschein is sunlight back-scattered off small interplanetary dust particles. These dust particles are millimeter sized splinters from asteroids and orbit in the ecliptic plane of the planets. Pictured above from last October is one of the most spectacular pictures of the gegenschein yet taken. Here a deep exposure of an extremely dark sky over Paranal Observatory in Chile shows the gegenschein so clearly that even a surrounding glow is visible. In the foreground are several of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescopes, while notable background objects include the Andromeda galaxy toward the lower left and the Pleiades star cluster just above the horizon. The gegenschein is distinguished from zodiacal light near the Sun by the high angle of reflection. During the day, a phenomenon similar to the gegenschein called the glory can be seen in reflecting air or clouds opposite the Sun from an airplane."

"Looking out the window of an airplane, you might be lucky enough to see "the glory" in the direction directly opposite the Sun. Before airplanes, the phenomenon, known to some as the heiligenschein or the Specter of the Brocken, was sometimes seen from mountaintops. There, when conditions were right, one could look away from the Sun and see what appeared to be the shadow of a giant surrounded by a bright halo. The giant turns out to be the observer, as in the modern version a silhouette of an plane frequently occupies the glory's center. Pictured above, several concentric rings of the glory were photographed. The cause of the glory has only been understood recently and is relatively complex. Briefly, small droplets of water reflect, refract, and diffract sunlight backwards towards the Sun. The phenomenon has similar counterparts in other branches of science including astronomy, where the looking out from the Earth in the direction opposite the Sun yields a bright spot called the gegenschein."

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ding - Dong. Taser calling!

In a downtown loft apartment in Denver, Colorado, a group of 30-something women is having a party. They joke easily with each other about men, cats and botox.

It's more Sex and the City than Psycho, but party organiser Dana Shafman would have them believe they could easily be victims of violent crime.

She runs a company that sells Tasers, the electric stun guns used by security forces around the world.

In Colorado and other US states, it's legal for ordinary people to own them. Dana's marketing them to women as the ideal personal protection device.

"I've been to everyone's Avon-type tupperware-style parties, purse parties, clothing parties, boutique parties and I felt like why not have a self-defence party? Why not have a Taser party, because without self-defence you won't have any of the other stuff."

'Take it to the gym'

She gives a presentation, including worrying crime figures for Denver.

This is an unusual party, to say the least - there's food, but no alcohol, and much of the time is spent listening to disturbing statistics

But she also goes on to show off the different colours that are available (bright red, soft pink and electric blue are all on display) and the fashionable accessories you can buy, including a carrying pouch made of fake leopard-print fur.

"I sometimes carry mine with me like this to the gym," Dana says.

You can order your Taser at this party. It'll cost you US $350 to buy (about £180), and you'll have to pass a background criminal record check first.

Dana says she sold two Tasers in the six months before she started the parties. Now it's one a day.

This is an unusual party, to say the least. There's food, but no alcohol, and much of the time is spent listening to disturbing statistics.

'Deaths in custody'

The lone male party guest is Kevin Sailor, an off-duty police officer, brought in to demonstrate how a Taser works.

Tasers in leopard print and pink
The latest models are designed to appeal to women

Like many a partygoer who doesn't really know anyone, he spends much of the time on his own, slightly awkwardly standing with his (soft) drink. But he holds court later, when explaining the device and how best to use it.

He's a firm believer that Tasers are not permanently harmful - but civil liberties groups voice concerns over this.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues there have been a number of deaths in custody, following Taser use by security officials. They want the devices more strongly regulated and oppose proliferation among civilians.

But when I ask Kevin Sailor if he thinks America would be a safer place if everyone owned a Taser, he says: "Everybody that's a law-abiding citizen. Obviously cirminals or convicted felons, no I don't want them to be armed with one."

He talks of levelling the playing field, and the party guests listen patiently and ask questions, but really they are just waiting to get their hands on a Taser and have a go.

Dana talks them through how to hold one, load it and fire it and then it's their turn.

By the way, they're aiming at a target pinned to a cork board, not each other.

'It kinda scared me'

The first guest steps up, fires and runs to other side of the room, smiling, pleased with herself. Everyone else claps. The metal-coated paper target lights up as the current surges through it.

"Don't touch the wires," warns Dana, "they're live."

Later she shows everyone the vicious metal barbs: "They're even harder to pull out!" she announces.

The next guest, Amanda Moseley, puts her baby daughter in another room, then takes her turn.

She fires, squeals and says: "It kinda scared me."

Later she tells me she would consider buying one, because guns "are not really [her] thing".

Growing phenomenon

Veronica Sword looks pretty excited to have a go. "If it wasn't in a party atmosphere, I probably wouldn't have ended up learning about Tasers," she reveals.

Lena Guare, whose apartment this is, takes her turn and says: "I thought there would be more of a kick to it, because I've shot guns before, but No, it was cool."

She tells me she would consider buying one, because it might make her feel safer, especially when she goes running alone.

Parties like this are a growing phenomenon.

While national security is an important issue in the US presidential race, local elections in America are often fought on the question of personal safety - numbers of police officers, how they are armed and how secure people feel in their neighbourhoods.

In a country with about one gun for every adult, Tasers are sometimes touted as a less dangerous alternative.

While some criticise parties like this Denver soiree for putting more weapons on the streets, several people here, tonight at least, seem convinced it's an effective way to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Want to be an astronaut?

I DO!!!!!!!!

ESA (European Space Agency) is recruiting for new astronauts!! And I want to apply!! But do I have what it takes? Hmmmm?

A high level of education in scientific or technical disciplines, coupled with an outstanding professional background in research, application or education fields possibly supported by the use of computer systems and applications, is essential. Previous experience with aircraft operations is a bonus, particularly if it involved responsible tasks such as being a test pilot or flight engineer. The more skills and experience an applicant has the better, as this will increase their ability to undertake a variety of tasks.

Equally essential is excellent physical condition. Astronauts have to undergo intensive periods of training and may participate in spaceflights that last for months. During this time their body will be subject to a great deal of stress and good health and physical endurance are essential.

I guess thats a NO then. Looks like I'm waiting for commercial space flight to become cheap as chips. :(