Mimesis and Violence


epistle to the americans
June 30, 2007, 7:53 am
Filed under: Friends, Sex, Thailand, Travel

Last night was the 20th anniversary of the first Koh Phangan full moon party. Having been woken at 5am by our British bunganeighbors (neighbalows?) Dave and Carrick I was really fucking tired when we set out to start drinking at 10pm.

Walking along the beach on the way to the center of Haad Rin we (Dave, Carrick, and I) ran into a potbellied man who offered to sell us hashish. “You know how all of this started?” he asked us, pointing to the beach. “That devil, the Buddha did it.” Not having a clue what he was talking about we politely turned down the crazy man’s hash and continued down the beach. A few minutes later we ran into Eta.

The shemales were out in full force; like Homer’s harpies they appear as simularcra of femininity from afar while up close they are beastly angular things – beaks and glaring eyes – their masculinity mangled by cheap surgery and zealously applied makeup. You can tell that Koh Phangan is poor (even by Thai standards) in many ways, but especially by the obvious maleness of these faux-women. They call out to passing boys; they want to get fucked. ugh.

Before we hit the beach we go to a local bar for a snake show. Given the non-table-tennis nature of the so-called ping-pong shows in Bangkok, I wonder whether this show will contain real snakes or metaphorical ones. There are cobras. Let’s be clear: actual cobras, not penises. A man tames them. Kisses one of them on the head. It spits venom at him angrily, hissing all the while.

On the beach the drink of choice is the whiskey bucket: a sickly sweet combination of Red Bull, Coke/Sprite, and Thai Whiskey. Dave, Carrick, Eta and I split 4 over the course of the night, each with coke and double Red Bull. Rumor has it that the Thai Red Bull and whiskey both boast amphetamines in their ingredient lists; I don’t read Thai but I believe it.

Each bar on the sand plays it’s own flavor of music and sells buckets en mass at its own price. We spent some time standing in between a housemusicplaying bar and a poppy one. The time signatures did not match and the blend was not pretty, but I was the only one who seemed to notice. I got drunker and stopped caring.

Eta ran off merrilly to dance to pop music, and dance she did – sandwiched between Thai prostitutes she swears were women.

Eventually us boys tired of repeating Rihanna and set off for one of the many technoplaying places along the sand. I danced my fill (less self-consciously than ever) and watched the gyrating bodies of British girls and Thai whores atop the massive bass-booming speakers. Having drunk my fill as well I joined the throng of men peeing in the ocean.

Drunk enough and danced out my only unsated desire by 3:30 is food. I eat a chicken sandwich at Mr. K’s Chicken Corner and we drunkenly stumble home to Bird Bungalows, our little Dublin of Irish tourists.

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exalted in translation
June 23, 2007, 2:36 am
Filed under: Friends, Humor, Thailand, Travel

In a 7/11 in Bangkok, right near Khao Sun, I took out my camera to collect evidence of American economic imperialism. A slight employee approached me quietly but urgently telling me “no picta, no picta.” I put away my camera.

After my sister purchased her cooling slushy beverage, our erstwhile guide to the wonders of Bangkok (and my longtime friend) Sratha said to me:

You know that guy who told you not to takes picture? The manager asks hims, “why didn’t you kick that guys with the cameras outs?” He said, “are you kiddings, did you see him? he’s huge! he’d kills me!”

Inside my 5 foot 8 torso my black heart skipped a beat. I wasn’t even a big guy for my brief stint on the Princeton Sprint Football team.



Hubbard Hechsher
June 16, 2007, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Humor, Judaism, Mathematics, Rants, Religion, Scientology

It recently came to my attention that Scientologists don’t believe in calculus. Something having to do with Xenu and Thetans and integrating over extended perfect fields taking over our immortal souls and preventing us from reaching enlightenment or somesuch. By recently I mean that I found out about 10 months ago, though I only recently found proof.

Rate of change is this mathematics known as Calculus. Calculus, it’s a very interesting thing, is divided into two classes — there’s Differential Calculus and Integral Calculus. The Differential Calculus is in the first part of the textbook on Calculus, and Integral Calculus is in the second part of the textbook on Calculus. As you look through the book, you’ll find in the early part of the book on Calculus, “dx” over “dy”, a little “dx”, and a little “dy” — and one’s above the other on a line — predominates in the front part of the book, but as you get to the end of the book you find these “dx” and “dy”s preceded by a summation sign, or are equating to a summation sign, and the presence of this shows that we are in the field of Integral Calculus.

Now I hope you understand this, because I’ve never been able to make head nor tail of it. It must be some sort of a Black Magic operation, started out by the Luce cult — some immoral people who are operating up in New York City, Rockefeller Plaza — been thoroughly condemned by the whole society. Anyway, their rate-of-change theory — I’ve never seen any use for that mathematics, by the way — I love that mathematics, because it — I asked an engineer, one time, who was in his 6th year of engineering, if he’d ever used Calculus, and he told me yeah, once, once I did, he said. When did you use it? And he said I used it once. Let me see, what did you use it on? Oh yeah. Something on the rate-of-change of steam particles in boilers. And then we went out and tested it and found the answer was wrong.

Calculus — if you want to know — there is room there for a mathematics which is a good mathematics. And it would be the rate of co-change, or the rate of change when something else was changing, so that you could establish existing rates of change in relationship to each other, and for lack of that mathematics, nobody has been able to understand present time — you just can’t sum it up easily — or let us say, for lack of an understanding of what present time was, nobody could formulate that mathematics. So, actually there’s a big hole there that could be filled — a thing called calculus is trying to fill that hole, right now, and it can’t.

L. Ron Hubbard (founder of Scientology and science fiction author)

Incidentally there are serious mathematicians who have taken issue with the founding principles of calculus. Philosopher George (Bishop) Berkeley (for whom Berkeley, California, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Berkeley residential college at Yale are named) criticized Newton’s and Leibniz’s calculus on the grounds that the notion of infinitesimals – infinitely small chunks of space that nonetheless sum up to chunks of measurable area – was so poorly defined as to completely lack rigor. Like any fine 18th century philosopher Berkeley launched his critique in religious terms, naming his work “The Analyst,” with the subtitle of “A DISCOURSE Addressed to an Infidel Mathematician.” Indeed, the field of nonstandard analysis attempts to develop all the analytical machinery of calculus using a rigorous definition of infinitesimals.

Hubbard never got that far, though. He just didn’t like these “rates of change,” these tools of a “Luce cult” of evil New Yorkers. And why should he? What did New York ever do to deserve L. Ron’s respect?! Fuck ’em all, those infidel New Yorkers!

In that spirit (and in the spirit of my own misanthropic religious background) I’ve come up with the Hubbard Hechsher, a sign for all the faithful that a consumer product is strictly calculess – the Scientologist’s halal or kosher. Just in time, too – Travolta could use some dietary restrictions.

I give to you the official Scientological calculess symbol:

Hubbard Hechsher

Like kosherness, calculessness certification is awarded by a central authority – the Tom Cruise Center for Kids Whos Likes to Jumps on Couches. Here are some fine products made without any calculus at all.

Calculess Plane

We built this calculess airplane on trial and error, and it flies even higher than noted Scientologist Giovanni Ribisi‘s post Boiler Room career. Keep in mind that, like Ribisi’s career, we’re still in the error phase.

Tom’s Apple

Tom’s calculess apples are guaranteed to make you inscrutable to psychotherapy and impervious to public opinion. A calculess apple a day keeps those damned doctors away and ensures that, though your recent movies are just plain awful, people will still pay nine to eleven dollars to watch you prance around and steal high-end electronics in poorly named trilogies. And we would never ever use any calculus to grow Tom’s apples, not even if it made them taste 10 times better, cost 10 times less, and cure world hunger. Such is our commitment to L. Ron.

Piggie!

One of the great advantages of calculessness over kashrut (kosherdom for you goyim) is that pigs are naturally calculess. No processing, salting, or special killing methods are required: pigs just can’t integrate. In that respect they’re very much like the distinct and insular minorities protected by current US constitutional jurisprudence. Did we mention that calculess pigs are naturally fat free but taste exactly the same as regular fatass pigs? mmmm…guiltless bacon…doubly treif

Calculess Nuke

Finally, we’ve got the clean burning calculess nuclear power plant and companion nuclear submarine. Much less dangerous than their calculating counterparts and much cheaper to maintain too (hint: that’s because they don’t work).

“You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”
L. Ron Hubbard



give me some credit
June 15, 2007, 2:04 pm
Filed under: Economics, Internet, Money, Rants

One of the interesting side effects of living in a data driven world is that, for a price, companies can learn lots of stuff about you. One piece of information about me that is readily available is the fact that I just graduated from college. Credit card companies seem to have taken this as a sign of expected future income and began bombarding my home and school addresses with credit card offers earlier this year, the most ridiculous of which came to my home address earlier this week – the Facebook credit card.

Facebook Chase Card

Chase’s +1 Student MasterCard boasts the following amazing features:

  • 0% 6 Month Introductory APR
  • No Annual Fee
  • Earn Karma Points; A New Currency!
  • Redeem for Goods on Facebook.com
  • Huge Surprises and Exclusive Giveaways

Not being terribly familiar with credit cards (as a coddled child of suburbia, my parents took care of all of my financials beyond my school and summer jobs paying for food) I decided to check this Facebook card out, to read the fine print.

Karma Points, it seems, are new currency, freshly coined at the US Mint of Catchy Bullshit Marketing Phrases. According to the Chase brochure I will earn Karma “just by having the card.” As far as I can tell from the marketing info, Karma Points are earned not in any way commensurate to the amount of money I spend on the card, but rather proportional to the amount I deserve (which is a lot for being so awesome).

So what do I do with all this Karma I’m due? Apparently I spend them on the Facebook +1 store (which I can’t seem to find anywhere on Facebook) and buy music, DVDs, electronics and more! Personally I’d like to see this +1 store before I sign anything. I’d also prefer to buy or download the DVDs I’d like and get airline miles from my credit card, but I’m not going to hold that against Chasebook. What I am going to hold against them is that, after the Pavlovian 6 month grace period of 0% interest that trains students to pay only the minimum on time, they smack us over the head with a variable rate that is currently 18.24%. And this after all their talk about helping students deal with credit responsibly (especially when there are cards out there with longer grace periods and lower rates).

I’m not sure I take Facebook seriously enough as a company (rather than as an Internet phenomenon and an extension of Mark Zuckerbergs infamous personality) to indict them for contributing to a shitload of student debt. But if I did I would say that this move is a betrayal of their core users – students.



flamenco rhino!
June 11, 2007, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Computer Science, Dance, Internet, Princeton, Video

This one goes out to Flamenco Molly (Ephraim).

If you take a look at the YouTube page you’ll see that the video debuted at SIGGRAPH ’06 (a computer graphics conference). Flamenco rhino was (apparently) generated by capturing the motion of a real flamenco dancer (Debbie Deas) and generating a rhino that moved in the same way. They’ve even got some of the hand motions down. This is the same sort of thing they did with Andy Serkis for Gollum in Lord of the Rings and King Kong (they being those movie people).

I think it’s pretty cool. If you disagree then get your own damn blog.



sing to me
June 9, 2007, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Friends, Literature, Sex

The long and short of it is that I’m traveling for the next six weeks (Thailand for a month and then Israel). Extended periods on plane and train mean that I need books to take with me. So, dear reader, friend or e-interlocutor (stats indicate you do exist): leave a comment and tell me what to read and why. Please?

If your recommendation is good I promise to thank you profusely (perhaps sexually, depending on who you are). If it’s bad I promise not to kill your family.

Thank you muchly,
Avi



O Interwebs
June 8, 2007, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Friends, Internet, Sex

[13:38] thefram1: what should I write my prince column about?
[13:38] audrey: umm
[13:38] audrey: sex?
[13:40] thefram1: it’s a technology column
[13:41] audrey: ummm…
[13:41] audrey: sex toys?
[13:42] thefram1: not a subject I’m very knowledgeable about
[13:42] thefram1: want to ghost write?
[13:42] thefram1: you could talk about USB vibrators and the like
[13:43] audrey: um… they have those?
[13:43] thefram1: let’s find out
[13:44] thefram1: http://www.edenfantasys.com/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=15923
[13:45] thefram1: http://www.condomcountry.com.au/item/t-vib-usb-kit-10func