Yearly Archives: 2005

My Mother Was a Computer by N. Katherine Hayles and Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling

There’s been a lot of chatter, books written, and hand-waving about the merging of humans and machines ever since the computer reared its digital head. From artificial intelligence and humanoid robots to microchip implants and uploading consciousness, the melding of biology and technology has been prophesized far and wide.

Humans are indeed merging with machines, but don’t believe the hype: It’s not happening in the way those old science fiction books would have you think. (more…)

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Bomb the System Directed by Adam Bhala Lough

With its focus on graffiti and a lackluster storyline, Bomb the System (Palm Pictures) can be described fairly accurately as an update of the 80s graffiti classic Wild Style, which also rode a thin plot through the streets and walls of New York City. Its real value is in the visuals. From the nighttime shots of The City to the many pieces themselves, Bomb the System is a beautiful film. In spite of the story itself, BTS also manages to capture a sense of the energy involved in outlaw street art, a sense of the camaraderie of the crews that do it, and a sense of why they do it. (more…)

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Twentieth-Century French Philosophy: Key Themes and Thinkers

Alan D. Schrift has hereby done a great service to anyone interested in French thinkers and their thought. Twentieth-Century French Philosophy (Blackwell) chronicles the lineage, the history, and the context of all of the major thinkers and thought of France in the last hundred years. This includes a succinct chronology, brief biographies, and a lengthy historical narrative — the latter of which might seem anathema to most French thinkers, but helps glue everything together here. And when we’re talking about Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Barthes, Blanchot, Sartre, Bataille, Bourdieu, Althusser, de Beauviour, Levinas, and Kristeva, among many others, we need as much cohesion as we can find. (more…)

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LINT by Steve Aylett

Steve Alyett‘s LINT is a biography of one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood figures in modern science fiction. Easily on par with Philip K. Dick in brilliance and influence, Jeff Lint scrambled through SF and indeed his existence in a tornado of alternating “blasts of merit” and “blasts of truth.” He toiled away at otherworldly satire throughout most of the late twentieth century dodging mean and bitter critics and rivals, and maniacal, adoring fans in equal measure. (more…)

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Led Zeppelin IV by Erik Davis

I’ve never been a big Led Zeppelin fan. I completely missed their lengthy reign on arenas and male libidos. You see, my parents aren’t into music, and I have no older siblings. This left me to my own devices as a young lad in search of music, and for some reason, Zeppelin was always at the periphery of my sonic gaze. (more…)

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Why Societies Need Dissent by Cass R. Sunstein

In Why Societies Need Dissent, Cass R. Sunstein illustrates the powers and dangers of dissent through a clear and concise exposition of three basic phenomena: conformity, social cascades, and group polarization. His epistemological view of conformity shows how we tend to learn less first-hand than from what others think and believe. Social cascades occur when […]

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Dig! Directed by Ondi Timoner

Ondi Timoner’s Dig! is the story of a musical revolution, which may or may not have happened, depending on your perspective. The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Worhols were friends before either had any modicum of fame, and they were determined to change the world — or at least the world of music. They took separate paths toward this change, and the onset of two types of fame turned them into rivals of the oddest sort. (more…)

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Underground Sounds

“Big wheel, big spin, big money, no whammies
Don’t save me a seat when you get to the Grammys” — nomadboy

So, against my better judgment, I watched the Grammys the other night. This viewing experiment reminded me both of how much I love music and how far away my tastes are from “Grammy material.” I made a quick trip to Lou’s Records in Encinitas, California prior to the show, and my purchases there should prove more than my point. (more…)

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