Framed by Facebook in Unstable Spacetime

The BBC News that caught my attention this morning at breakfast was the picture of the universe just taken by the Hubble Space Telescope after some 500 hours of unblinking exposure, a 2D rendition of galaxies galore now and gazillion of light years away, back to just after galaxies started shining.

Galaxies 2012 rubbing shoulders with galaxies long extinct (but whose light only reached the Hubble lens now) within the confines of the same rectangle makes the picture a great piece of unpredictable spacetime, which is not the sort of thing futurists and meteorologists would get busy with, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, but an entretien of brilliant mathematicians since the crack of intellectual dawn, whenever that was.

Unpredictable spacetime (or perhaps just unstable spacetime which is a triffle less unpredictable) is also the place, or more precisely, the placetime, where Facebook briefly framed me yesterday. But whereas the Hubble picture shows a lot of different times in 2D space, Facebook put me in a lot of different places more or less at the same time, as I started filling the map feature with places I’ve been to in my life,  but without entering dates.

Messages stating that I’d just been to places as far and wide apart as Hongkong, Seattle, Nairobi, Narvik and Knysna started flooding my Facebook screen – and my friends’ screens, too. Within a few minutes, I’d been to more places all over the world than what it is possible within the current limits of avionics and light travel. A friend in Sweden asked dryly, “Globetrotting?”, while another in Frankfurt, about to cruise the Mediterranean, asked ” is it a nice place?”,  since their ship would stop there. I was momentarily clueless about the “it”, but mercifully the view of my map app was still parked in Taormina, which made sense, seconds before it moved to Sal Island, which isn’t a logical Mediterranean cruise detour.

I did end up entering one more time dimension than present time, obliging the message from a Belgium friend stationed in Bangkok urging me to “don’t forget Acapulco 1987!” Not that it makes any difference to the stability of undated Facebook placetime, triggering the first of a series of Morninglory quotes:

Time is overrated. Place is all that matters.

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Musical Musings of Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson is a boundless force of creative culture. Musician, composer, singer, performer, digital pioneer and music instrument inventor, she entered my consciousness in the early 1990s just before the Web became a mass reality, with her wildly surreal Puppet Motel CD-ROM, which the National Public Radio considered  “should do for CD-ROMS what the Beatles Sergeant Pepper did for rock ‘n roll”. Besides her own projects, the once-upon-a-time MFA Sculpture graduate and long time companion of Lou Reed – the two married in their 60s in 2008 – worked together with many notable artists and counter culture figures like William S. Burroughs, Brian Eno, and Timothy Leary.

[If a Sperm Where the Size of a Whale:Mach 20
[On the culture of oversimplification:Let X=X
[From Da Vinci’s Ethics and Wisdom series:Great Thinkers: Laurie Anderson

Stephen Fry on the Catholic Church

English actor, writer, comedian, broadcaster, and man of words extraordinaire Stephen Fry offers his take on whether the Catholic Church is a source for good in the world at the BBC Intelligence Squared Debate Series in October 19, 2009. “Sometimes the importance of being earnest is more than a moral duty – it is a pleasure”, he states when opening his IQ2 debate address on the topic, available here: Part 1/2  and Part 2/2 .

Stephen Fry currently hosts the British comedy quiz show QI, Quite Interesting, featuring extremely obscure questions and awarding points for interesting answers, even if incorrect and unrelated to the question; and rounded up by a General Ignorance topic, a mockery of General Knowledge quizzes.

Conversations with Marina Abramović

New York based, Serbian born Marina Abramović, grandmother of Performance Art, explores relationships between performer and audience, limits of the body and possibilities of the mind. In one of her most famous and daring performances [Rhythm 0, 1974], she put herself at the mercy of an audience for 6 hours, during which the audience could use any of 72 objects to manipulate her body and actions. She discovered that an initially gentle audience could kill you, and then run away.

Conversation #1 with PBS news anchor Jeffrey Brown
Conversation #2 with Harvard University professor Sanford Kwinter

On Grain: Pumping for the Kill

[Grain:] a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. The staple diet in developing nations in the form of  rice, wheat, millet, or maize. Which is why the cheaper E10 biofuel comes at a sky-high high cost: driving up the price of grain, and killing people unable to afford the higher prices, or too malnourished to wait for charity, probably from the very hands that dealt the higher crops prices. In Germany, icon and hotbed of potently masculine car making, some government officials demand the fuel to be banned; while philosophical France next door, the first EU country to introduce E10 in 2009, is currently “considering  to reconsider” expanding the use of bio-fuel. The two countries account for a big, fat lion’s share of the total European bio-fuel consumption, which has doubled since 2006 despite lots of good legislative intentions to curb the appetite for killer bio-fuel. But good news loom on the horizon: despite increases in consumption,  the trend is for Europe to decline its share in the global bio-fuel killer trend, as other regions will increase their consumption a great deal more than Europe. The Worst Biofuel Baddy crown will be worn somewhere else – guess where?

Sticky Chinoiseries

Some sticky books get the Nobel Prize of Literature; others get to go to Hollywood.  The book I just finished reading [09/2012], Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke, could score on both counts, but then again maybe not, as the book has been banned in China, and China has a sticky-upward pull in contemporary Sino-American politico-economical relations.

Speaking of the sticky-upward pull in Sino-American relations, another sticky read comes to mind: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, a hilariously absurd tale of a dystopian near future too close to reality 2012 for comfortable chuckling.

For hilarious  suspension of disbelief,  stick to the The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, who saw his debut novel at age 48 turn into an instant bestseller. The bombastic life of the 100 year old hero reads like a Who Was Whoof the 20th century, including  – and here´s the Chinese connection – a riverboat ride with Mrs.  Mao Zedong.

Smörgåsbord

[From MsMorninglory to WordPress.com:Smörgåsbord is a Scandinavian buffet of various dishes and foods originating in Sweden. The concept and word, minus the quirky Swedish accents, went viral at the 1939 New York World Fair where the Swedish Pavilion offered a smorgasbord to visitors. The word is a [1+1]+1 composite of [smörgås]+bord = [smör+gås] + bord = [butter+goose]+table. Smörgås is an open faced sandwich.