Anything is possible-ness.

Hacker poetry: Switch Thrower for the World

Sat, 10/05/2013 - 05:44 -- Andrew

Featured in Steven Levy's 'Hackers: heroes of the computer revolution', this poem is a parody of Carl Sandburg's 'Chicago'.  Written by MIT student Peter Sampson in the 1950s, It is believed to be one of the first recorded uses of the word 'hacking' to describe somebody doing something technically brilliant.  Published in a school newsletter, it refers to describes the activities of the still extant Tech Model Railroad Club frequented by many of MIT's early computer pioneers. 

Switch Thrower for the World, Fuze Tester, Maker of Routes,
Player with the Railroads and the System's Advance Chopper.
Grungy, hairy, sprawling,
Machine of the Point Function Line-o-lite:
They tell me you are wicked, and I believe them; for I have seen your
painted light bulbs under the Lucite, luring the system coolies
Under the tower, dust all over the place, hacking with bifurcated springs
Hacking even as an ignorant freshman hacks who has never lost occupancy and
has dropped out.
Hacking the M-Boards, for under its locks are the switches and under its
control the advance around the layout.

The sexyness of disability

Fri, 10/04/2013 - 08:43 -- Alex

The Disability Scoop site is running this story on American Able, a series of photos by Toronto photographer Holly Norris that very effectively spoofs-critiques American Apparel's use of similar shots of women in advertisements.

It's a powerful series that's likely to resonate with anyone who's disturbed by the very narrow selection of body types on display in advertisements in general or who have been specifically troubled by AA's narrow choice of models -  young women posing in a sexually suggestive manner while wearing the company's more revealing items. The full series is here though I wish I could see a close up of Jes' rad arm octopus tattoo. From the article:

The photos are of Jes Sachse, a 25-year-old Canadian college student with a rare genetic condition known as Freeman-Sheldon syndrome. She has unique facial features, a curved spine and her right leg is a bit shorter than her left, but Sachse is not lacking in attitude.

The series dubbed “American Able” includes 13 recreations of actual American Apparel ads. In one called “Tight,” Sachse appears in a leotard to strut her stuff before an oversized window. In another ad called “Workout,” Sachse is shown wearing nothing more than a headband and green shorts.

AORTA fall tour

Thu, 09/26/2013 - 10:50 -- Alex

The Anti-Oppression Resource Organization (AORTA), whose membership includes Philadelphia-based community organizer Esteban Kelly whom we interviewed in the second episode of the High Alert podcast is about to go on their Fall 2013 tour. The tour will see them holding workshops in Portland (OR), Bellingham (WA), Vancourver (BC) and Seatle (WA) on topics including Anti-racism for community organizers and Deconstructing ableism. If you're in those cities, do yourself a favour and check them out. Alternatively, their site holds some informative primers on what they're about and how you can think about anti-oppression in your work.

Gold teeth and 'cities of the dead'

Tue, 09/24/2013 - 08:22 -- Vijay


When you travel, you often experience sensations that bombard you constantly when you least expect them. You're then left with instantaneous memories that leave a scar (pretty or ugly) on your mind forever. It could be a simple activity as trying out a new phrase in a language you are learning and having the pleasure of making a connection with someone else, even if small and insignificant. It can also be that wallet that was stolen in a jam-packed minibus or that fermented mare’s milk that you knew would do horrible things to your stomach, yet you drank it anyway to be nice.

Brooklyn maker Chris Hackett discusses the "transmission problem"

Mon, 09/23/2013 - 06:31 -- Andrew

In this great video, Brooklyn maker Chris Hackett gives some sound advice about the obstacles inherent in building complex tools from disparate, scavanged parts.  The projects that serve as a backdrop for this discussion: Occupy NY's 'Illuminator' and it's pedicab-mounted cousin.

Link to full video

News from Кыргызстан

Fri, 09/20/2013 - 09:51 -- Vijay

I’d like to thank Alex for giving me the opportunity to blog on HIGH-ALERT. From time to time I’ll interrupt the news feed with insights from my travels ‘off the map’. For the moment, I shall speak a bit about the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. I’m here in the capital city of Bishkek for approximately two days now and will be here until the end of December carrying out a collective action game with a community nearish a large lake called Issyk-kul.

As for me, I am working on a PhD at McGill, in the study of ecological economics, or how to develop a totally new system of exchange and the associated social and political institutions that go with it which respects the capabilities of all human beings to achieve basic needs without extracting materials or waste that extend beyond the Earth’s capacity to regenerate or assimilate them.

Anything is Possible-ness: Leah Garfield-Wright answers some questions

Wed, 09/18/2013 - 14:52 -- Alex

For the past little while, a bunch of us in Montreal have been talking about starting an art coop. We've been having these lively meetings that have had us reflecting on what's involved in starting up a collectively run space. Amongst other things, we've been trying to come up with a name, have been talking about the kind of space we'd like to have and the sorts of values we'd like to express in a manifesto. During one of our brainstorms, one of the other members of our emerging coop, Leah-Garfield-Wright, came up with the tagline Anything is Possible-ness. I liked it so much, I "borrowed" it for High Alert and it's our current tagline. 

Aside from being directly involved in various Montreal-based community initiatives,Leah's work has her engaging fairly intimately with the urban environment, creating wonderful installations that get people to stop and think about the spaces they walk through. Check out her recent LIBREary project. I asked Leah what Possible-ness meant to her and also what she was up to these days. Here's what she wrote back!.

(The post photo is of Leah's neighbor Gilberte, part of the Resistance, lived in southern France for 5 years and ate too much broccoli, still hates broccoli, laughs much.)

Hacker poetry: Agrippa

Wed, 09/18/2013 - 06:36 -- Andrew

For a while now, I 've been collecting bits and pieces of poetry with that tie into a hacker theme. I've decided to post them here one-by-one in the coming weeks.

The first offering: 'Agrippa (a book of the dead)' released in 1992 by William Gibson on 3.5" floppy disk and set to encrypt itself into oblivion after a single reading.  Published in collaboration with artist Dennis Ashbaugh, the floppy disk came embedded in an apocalyptic looking art book.   A gallery of pictures depicting the book can be found here and for those that want the original 3.5" floppy disk experience, an emulation can be found on this UCSB website.

Let's read Dragon Magazine from the beginning

Mon, 09/16/2013 - 10:25 -- Alex

I recently got the hankering to get back into Dragon Magazine - which I collected steadfastly as a teenager from 1987 to 1993. After scouring the internet, I found and ordered a wackload of old issues spanning #5-#200 and also got ahold of the Dragon Magazine archive released by TSR in 1999.

One absolutely phenomenal find that I've come across is this thread on forum.rpg.net that has continuously been updated by user un(reason) since March 2008 and which provides a fairly detailed overview of every single issue of Dragon ever published, going into fairly extensive depth into the evolution of the roleplaying hobby from its birth in Gary Gygax' basement in the 1970s. I've immersed myself in this five-year-running dedicated thread and after a week or so of occasionally reading through entries have made my way to the early 1980s. Needless to say, it's a wild ride, replete with insight into a magazine that was arguably ground-zero for the hobby. Included are references to Gygax' regular written contributions to the magazine, the birth and eventual demize of play-by-mail gmaing and eventual evolution of computer-gaming, as well as the comings-and-goings of various other industry contributors and their respective forrays into the field. 


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