Rover Finds Methane, a Clue That Mars May Harbor Life →

The presence of methane is significant because the gas cannot exist for long. Calculations indicate that sunlight and chemical reactions in the Martian atmosphere would break up the molecules within a few hundred years, so any methane there now must have been created recently.

An amazing discovery that is getting virtually no attention in the mainstream media. What an exciting time for Space discovery we are living in.

Robot will beam live Moon pictures to Oculus users →

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a robot which they plan to land on the Moon to act as eyes for Earth-bound space enthusiasts.

The robot is being entered into Google’s Lunar XPRIZE. The contest awards $30M to the first team who can land a robot on the moon, drive it more than 500 meters, and send HD video back to Earth. But rather than just send video, they hope to provide a live feed from the robot to VR headsets on earth.

“The vision was simple - let anyone on Earth experience the Moon live through the eyes of a robot,” explained team leader Daniel Shafrir.

“We weren’t just going to go to the Moon. We are going to bring the Moon back,” he added.

The telepresence robot, nicknamed Andy after university founder Andrew Carnegie, can be controlled by an operator’s head.

Using an Oculus Rift headset, the movements of the user’s head are tracked and sent back to Andy’s camera so that it will match where the user is looking.

“Imagine the feeling of looking out and seeing rocks and craters billions of years old. Turn your head to the right and you see the dark expanse of space. Turn your head to the left and you see home, Earth,” said Mr Shafrir.

Totally awesome. I want to get an Oculus Rift so badly.

The word “essay” comes from the French verb “essayer” which means “to try”. An essay, in the original sense, is something you write to try to figure something out.

  • Paul Graham Hackers and Painters

Vacationland

Biological Boot Loader

Elon Musk wrote this earlier this week after mentioning Nick Bostrom’s new book.

I’ve often wondered the same thing, but never summed it up so cleverly. Now I am really excited to read Superintelligence.

I’m not sure if Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweet today is related, but I sure hope he’s right.

Tsekeleke by Nozinja →

Who was the me that did that? →

Sasha Frere-Jones profiles Brian Eno for The New Yorker:

“I have a trick that I used in my studio, because I have these twenty-eight-hundred-odd pieces of unreleased music, and I have them all stored in iTunes,” Eno said during his talk at Red Bull. “When I’m cleaning up the studio, which I do quite often—and it’s quite a big studio—I just have it playing on random shuffle. And so, suddenly, I hear something and often I can’t even remember doing it. Or I have a very vague memory of it, because a lot of these pieces, they’re just something I started at half past eight one evening and then finished at quarter past ten, gave some kind of funny name to that doesn’t describe anything, and then completely forgot about, and then, years later, on the random shuffle, this thing comes up, and I think, Wow, I didn’t hear it when I was doing it. And I think that often happens—we don’t actually hear what we’re doing. . . . I often find pieces and I think, This is genius. Which me did that? Who was the me that did that?”

Bittersweet Reminiscences of The Life Aquatic →

In this new, online-exclusive video for Criterion, Wes Anderson, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, and Willem Dafoe reminisce about the challenging conditions under which they made The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Man I love The Life Aquatic. See check out Criterion’s behind the scenes photos from the set.

Why You Should Embrace Surveillance, Not Fight It →

Kevin Kelly for Wired:

A massively surveilled world is not a world I would design (or even desire), but massive surveillance is coming either way because that is the bias of digital technology and we might as well surveil well and civilly.

And then it gets really interesting.

But if today’s social media has taught us anything about ourselves as a species it is that the human impulse to share trumps the human impulse for privacy. So far, at every juncture that offers a technological choice between privacy or sharing, we’ve tilted, on average, towards more sharing, more disclosure. We shouldn’t be surprised by this bias because transparency is truly ancient. For eons humans have lived in tribes and clans where every act was open and visible and there were no secrets. We evolved with constant co-monitoring. Contrary to our modern suspicions, there wouldn’t be a backlash against a circular world where we constantly spy on each other because we lived like this for a million years, and — if truly equitable and symmetrical — it can feel comfortable.

There is no question that a “massively surveilled” world is coming. I would argue it’s already here. I too am nervous about it. KK giving it (ancient) historical context is both fascinating and oddly reassuring.

Someday World - Brian Eno and Karl Hyde →

Someday World”” is collaborative record between Brian Eno and Underworld’s Karl Hyde. Warp records is releasing it on May 5th, but in the meantime you can stream it on NPR.

I’ve listening to it twice so far. While I like it, I much prefer the harder, more krautrock instrumental jams that they feature in this studio film.

Raster-Noton is an Avant-Garde Institution →

If you can get past the cringe-worthy introduction, “Vibe: Like you’re a few hours into a Ritalin high”, there are some interesting tidbits about the origins of Raster Noton in this VICE interview with Olaf Bender.

Also check out the two albums they picked tracks from. Both are excellent.

Super.Trigger by Frank Bretchneider
Recur by Emptyset

Wes Anderson’s Artful World →

It's All Too Much By Peter Walsh

ISBN: 0743292650 Finished: 2014-03-11

I hesitated to read “It’s All Too Much” because I figured it was for people with very serious clutter problems. I spend a lot of time battling clutter and generally win. But while my house usually appears clean and straightened I secretly manage several caches of papers to scan, magazines to review, and clothes to donate. My hope was that this book would offer up some strategies for dealing with those last bits of clutter. Unfortunately it didn’t.

The first chapter presents a quiz to determine the reader’s position on a clutter scale. There are a possible 20 points. Your score places you into one of three clutter groups.

00-02 points - Clutter free
03-09 points - Clutter Victim
10-20 points - Hard Core Hoarder

I scored a 10. That’s right, according to Peter Walsh I am a “Hard Core Hoarder”. That my friends is absurd.

Instead of closing it right then, I was actually encouraged by Peter Walsh’s outrageous mis-categorization of me. Surely as a “Hard Core Hoarder” I would find some useful information to help me deal with my sickness, right? Nope.

Walsh spends most of the book describing his interactions with people who sound like borderline if not actual hoarders. He destribes people who haven’t used their dining room table to eat dinner in decades. People who have trouble sleeping in their beds because they are filled with their kids toys. People with serious problems. Not only were his strategies for dealing with those problems worthless to me, but I was now really offended to be in the same clutter group as these people.

I also took issue with Walsh’s ambivalence toward recycling or reusing all the junk he helps people remove. He touches on recycling and reuse but notes that most shelters could use cash instead of items. Of course they could. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep as much of your junk out of the waste stream as possible. I can understand not wanting to complicate the removal process for people who have real issue detaching. But he never mentions listing things for free on Craigslist which has been an excellent strategy for me. I’ve had lamps, furniture, clothing, books, all picked up within an hour of listing. Plus once you’ve agreed to give the item to someone else it’s gone. I think it’s irresponsible to just throw everything out.

While I didn’t get much from the book it wasn’t entirely useless. Walsh touches on some of the issues I’ve started dealing with now that I have kids. For instance it’s hard for me to recycle my daughter’s artwork even thought I know I can’t keep everything. So I’ll scan it all right? Then it piles up. Then I get a goddamned 10 out of 20 on the test even though the drawings are in a neat pile in my office. These are real issues.

Thinking about my (hopefully normal) emotional attachment to those drawings made me feel really bad for actual hoarders. It must be horrible to feel the same way about junk mail as I do about my daughter’s drawings.

Hopefully this book is helping people with very serious issues. The kind of people whose possessions are limiting the way they can live their lives. But if you’re like me and already fairly conscientious about what comes into your house and what you choose to keep, I doubt you’ll find any groundbreaking revelations here.

Also this book doesn’t have a index. It should have an index. ALL BOOKS NEED AN INDEX.

Brian Eno’s Selected Books for the Manual for Civilization →

My Favorite Albums of 2013

2013 was a weird year in music for me. The last albums by My Bloody Valentine, The Knife, and Zomby are some of my all time favorites. I was super excited that they all released new work this year, but the followups were kind of meh, pretty much unlistenable, and just not very good, respectively.

Luckily some really amazing records were released this year. I’m not a music critic, so I’m linking to the review that best summarizes each album for me as well as a representative (not necessarily my favorite) song.

R Plus Seven

Oneohtrix Point Never - R Plus Seven

I’ve really liked everything Daniel Lopatin has released as Oneohtrix Point Never, but R Plus Seven is the first album I have loved. Absolutely incredible.

Review: XLR8R
Listen to: Boring Angel


Immunity

Jon Hopkins - Immunity

When I first heard Immunity I thought it sounded too “techno-y”. Then I listened again, and again, and again. Immunity is a beautiful, mesmerizing album.

Review: XLR8R
Listen to: Collider


Rival Dealer

Burial - Rival Dealer

A long term favorite of mine who snuck in an EP right at the end of the year. There are more of the dark, sparse cityscapes he is known for, but Rival Dealer adds a surprisingly heartfelt and deeply personal narrative this time.

Review: Stereo Gum
Listen to: Rival Dealer


Exai

Autechre - Exai

Autechre is my jam band. I can never get enough. I would pay a lot of money for high quality recordings of their shows. I love them. So when they released Exai, a double album, last February I was elated. It is incredible. I’ll be listening to this record for the next 30 years.

Review: ResidentAdvisor
Listen to: prac-f


Virgins

Time Hecker - Virgins

Tim Hecker turns in a more acoustic direction and the result is an album of incredible depth and space. He keeps getting better with age. I love this record.

Review: Spin
Listen to: Amps, Drugs, Harmonium


Nothing Was The Same

Drake - Nothing Was The Same

There’s some garbage on this album, there’s some funny stuff on this album, and then there is “Hold On, We’re Going Home”. I’ve listened to it multiple times daily since I heard it this summer. It is absolutely brilliant. The best song of the year without question.

Review: Time Yeah I just linked to a hip hop review on Time.
Listen to: Hold On, We’re Going Home

Warning: Whatever you do don’t watch the official video. It’s beyond horrible.