advanced building techniques

Advanced LEGO building techniques: Train bumber after an original idea by James Mathis. Illustration by Didier Enjary.
A common trait of technoludic online scenes and communities are the efforts undertaken to document, preserve and redistribute specific knowledge. The afols [adult fans of lego] have developed many building techniques beyond those found in official instructions. Back in 2007 Didier Enjary collected a lot of those in his The Unofficial LEGO Advanced Building Techniques Guide [.pdf | 1.7 MB]. Didier’s guide explains the geometry of LEGO bricks from scratch, then proceeds to particular techniques. All in all his guide is a testament to the afols’ intellectual and practical appropriation of the LEGO building system.
Increasing offsets. Model by Jason Railton, illustration by Didier Enjary.

via entry at the brothers brick


The cockpit of Space Shuttle 'Atlantis'
Quite vividly do I remember when I sat in my parents’ living room on 12 April 1981, watching the launch of ‘Columbia’ on television. The first flight of a Space Shuttle into orbit. During the years when men walked the moon I was too young, and hence have no recollection of that at all. For me the Space Shuttle program was, like the Cold War, something that defined the world of my childhood. The Space Shuttles transposed what I read in comic books and science fiction stories into empirical, everyday reality. In July this year the era came to an end with the last flight of Space Shuttle ‘Atlantis.’ Once I read somewhere that the Space Shuttle orbiters are the most complex machines mankind has built to date. Since 19 December 2011 a set of wonderful photographies is online at collectSPACE, in a way giving a sense of this complexity.

Space shuttle Atlantis, which only five months ago flew the final mission of NASA’s 30-year shuttle program, is now being prepared for its public display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Its insides being pulled out to ensure it is safe for exhibit, as well as significantly lighten it for its planned steep-angled display, Atlantis is scheduled to be powered down this week for the final time.
    collectSPACE had the rare opportunity recently to tour Atlantis to photograph its preparation and capture its glass cockpit powered and lit for one of its last times.

via entry at boingboing


Seterra by Thomas Haas
Seterra by Thomas Haas
No, this is nothing out of a science fiction movie, but details of Seterra,’ a moc [my on creation], more precisley a SHIP [seriously huge investment in parts], by afol [adult fan of lego] Thomas Haas. The huge construction (not a rendition of something seen on the silver screen, inspired though, but Thomas’ own design) is 3.8 m long, approximately 1.4 m wide and 0.6 m high. He has no idea how much parts he used during the three years of building time, but estimates its weight at about 60 to 80 kg. Sadly ‘Seterra’ exists no more—Thomas had to disassemble it. Over at mocpages there is the full story and many, many more pictures.


whose arm?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #8
Whose arm?
Whose arm is that? The name of the actor will ring a big bell within the science fiction enthusiast—the story of this (today hardly known) movie a whole orchestra.
    Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the ‘Leave a comment’ at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it’s the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I’ve approved a comment, your next ones won’t be held, but published immediately by the system.]

UPDATE and solution (20 December 2011):
Well done, ryoku, and, yes, it is Michael Rennie‘s arm, or the arm of the character Garth A7 Rennie plays in the movie Cyborg 2087 (Adreon 1966). The actor’s name should ring a big bell within every science fiction enthusiast, because Rennie played ‘Klaatu’ in the classic The Day the Earth stood still (Wise 1951), later remade (Derrickson 2008) with Keanu Reeves as the lead. Before that Rennie already was made immortal in the first song of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Sharman 1975). The song ‘Science Fiction Double Feature’ begins thus: ‘Michael Rennie was ill the day the Earth stood still. But he told us where we stand.’
    In his winning comment ryoku also asked: ‘But seriously. Who would know such a movie?’
    Well, James Cameron would, I guess.
    My next hint would have been: In the scene the arm is revealed and shown in order to proof a point. But allow me to start from the beginning.
    In the year 2087 a totalitarian regime reigns planet Earth. Total social control is achieved by ‘radio telepathy.’ A resistance group manages to send the cyborg Garth (Michael Rennie) back through time into the year 1966.
    Garth’s mission is to find Professor Sigmund Marx (Eduard Franz), the inventor of radio telepathy, and to take him out of the course of history. Either by persuading him to come with Garth into the time machine, or by killing him. That way radio telepathy would not be invented, and humankind would not be enslaved later on.
    Having arrived in 1966 Garth reaches the Professor’s laboratory at ‘Future Industries Inc.’ (the company’s tag line is: ‘Research today for a better tomorrow’) Their he encounters Marx’s assistant, Dr. Sharon Mason (Karen Steele). Using the prototype of the radio telepathy machine Garth ‘persuades’ Dr. Mason that he is a cyborg from the future who has to find Professor Marx in order to save mankind.
    Time is pressing, because there is a problem. Garth carries an emitter implanted in his chest. The device’s signal allows the future totalitarian government to locate him through time and space. And indeed action already has been taken. Two other cyborgs, called ‘Tracers,’ have been sent back to 1966. Their mission is to hunt down and destroy Garth. Hence he has to get rid of the device in his chest as soon as possible.
    Sounds a lot like Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Cameron 1991), doesn’t it? But the similarities are not limited to the plot.
    Dr. Steele brings Garth to Dr. Carl Zeller (Warren Stevens), a surgeon, whom they tell the whole story, and then ask him to surgically remove the emitter. Naturally Dr. Zeller is reluctant to believe in the phantastic tale. So Garth roles up his sleeve and shows Dr. Zeller that he indeed is a man-machine hybrid.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day' (Cameron 1991), proofing that he is a cyborg
Dr. Zeller removes the emitter, alas, the Tracers already are too close. A dramatic showdown unfolds, but in the end Garth overcomes the tracers—and develops romantic feelings for Sharon. An unheard of thing for a cyborg.
    Meanwhile Professor Marx has returned from a lecture he has delivered. He quickly gets what Garth explains to him and agrees to join him in the time machine. The very moment the machine disappears with its passengers, the time-travel paradoxon kicks in. Nothing of the movie’s story has ever happened and in consequence the memories of the events in an instant are erased from the minds of all protagonists in the year 1966—but James Cameron didn’t forget ;-)

ADREON, FRANKLIN ‘PETE.’ 1966. Cyborg 2087 [motion picture]. ?????: Feature Film Corp. of America.
CAMERON, JAMES FRANCIS. 1991. Terminator 2: Judgment day [motion picture]. Culver City: TriStar Pictures.
DERRICKSON, SCOTT. 2008. The day the Earth stood still [motion picture]. Century City: 20th Century Fox.
SHARMAN, JIM. 1975. The rocky horror picture show [motion picture]. Century City: 20th Century Fox.
WISE, ROBERT. 1951. The day the Earth stood still [motion picture]. Century City: 20th Century Fox.

the machine stops

The Machine Stops is a science fiction short story or novella by E. M. Forster, first published in 1909. Here is the story’s setting as Wikipedia’s plot summary has it:

The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard ‘cell’, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the speaking apparatus, with which people conduct their only activity, the sharing of ideas and knowledge.

Sounds familiar? Remember: The story was originally published in 1909!
    In 1966 the BBC aired a television adaptation (see above) as the first episode of the second season of the science fiction series Out of the Unknown.’ The episodes listing shows that for the series stories by an impressive roster of New Wave Science Fiction authors were adapted.

FORSTER, EDWARD MORGAN. 1909. The machine stops. The Oxford and Cambridge Review 8.
SAVILLE, PHILIP. 1966. The machine stops [TV series episode]. Out of the Unknown 2(1). London: BBC.
found by SAS—tnx!

call for the dead

Detail of the first edition cover of 'Call for the Dead' (le Carré 1961)

[…] academic excursions into the mystery of human behaviour, disciplined by the practical application of his own deductions. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 1)
    This part of him was bloodless and inhuman—Smiley in this role was the international mercenary of his trade, amoral and without motive beyond that of personal gratification. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 1)
    By the strength of his intellect, he forced himself to observe humanity with clinical objectivity, and because he was neither immortal nor infallible he hated and feared the falseness of life. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 1)
    For four years he had played the part, travelling back and forth between Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. He had never guessed it was possible to be frightened for so long. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 1)
    The warmth was contraband, smuggled from his bed and hoarded against the wet January night. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 2)
    A slight, fierce woman in her fifties with hair cut very short and dyed to the colour of nicotine. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 3)
    ‘My body and I must put up with one another twenty hours a day. […]‘ (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 4)
    And back to the unreality of containing a human tragedy in a three-page report. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 4)
    […] he would spend the afternoon pursuing Olearius across the Russian continent on his Hansa voyage. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 5)
    He wanted to explain why it was impossible to understand nineteenth-century Europe without a working knowledge of the naturalistic sciences, […]. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 6)
    He hated the bed as a drowning man hates the sea. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 8)
    He used to say that the greatest mistake man ever made was to distinguish between the mind and the body: an order does not exist if it is not obeyed. He used to quote Kleist a great deal: ‘if all eyes were made of green glass, and if all that seems white was really green, who would be the wiser?’ Something like that. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 11)
    Smiley hugged his greatcoat round him […]. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 11)
    Mundt had proceeded with the inflexibility of a trained mercenary—efficient, purposeful, narrow. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 14)
    Oriental dance, where the tiny gestures of hand and foot animate a motionless body. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 15)
    He was one of those world-builders who seem to do nothing but destroy […]. (Le Carré 1961: chpt. 16)

LE CARRÉ, JOHN [aka CORNWELL, DAVID JOHN MOORE]. 1961. Call for the dead. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.

cyberpunk listings update

The lists of cyberpunkish artefacts in the menu cyberpunk (see above) still are (and forever will be :-) work in progress, but I heavily updated them. The last days I was down with some kind of flu, hence couldn’t concentrate on harder tasks anyway, and so gave it a go. First I added a lot of movies to the motion pictures list—in fact every single movie Emily E. Auger calls tech noir. In other words: I cannibalized her wonderful book (2011). Next I introduced two subcategories: television and video. In consequence the motion pictures list now only features movies which indeed have been released to the cinemas.

AUGER, EMILY E. 2011. Tech-noir film: A theory of the development of popular genres. Bristol, Chicago: Intellect.

bricks and games

truly transmedial to and fro
This is a moc [my own creation] interpretation by afol [adult fan of LEGO] m_o_n_k_e_y of the Vic Viper. This fighter spaceship is a signature element of the Gradius games, a series of scrolling shooters by Konami. The first game of the series was released in 1985, the latest in 2011. So over the course of a quarter of a century versions of the ship appear in more than two dozen computer games for different platforms.
    Within the LEGO scene the Vic Viper has a massive and very productive fandom, originally inspired by the late Nate ‘nnenn‘ Nielson. November, or, more correctly in this context: Nnovvember is the month of the Vic Viper. Here is pasukaru76‘s 2011 compilation of 255 Vic Viper interpretations by 135 builders:
Nnovvember 2011
Last year there were 193 Vic Vipers by 88 builders. Clicking through to Flickr you can view the posters in their original size and have a detailled look on every ship.
    But spillovers between computer games and the LEGO universe happen both ways—meanwhile with the fanbase directly involved. LEGO CUUSOO is an online idea collection system asking fans ‘to submit and vote for their favourite ideas for new LEGO products.’ If a submitted idea gets a specific numbers of supporters, the idea will be reviewed by a committee at The LEGO Group ‘composed of designers, product managers, and other key team members.’ If the idea passes the committee it will be made into an official product. As I understand it, CUUSOO, which is still in beta, first was launched in Japan: ‘It took our first launch, the Shinkai 6500, 420 days to reach 1,000 votes in Japan. Hayabusa took 57 days to 1,000.’ On the international launch the critical number was raised to 10,000. As you might know the indie game Minecraft has a substantial fanbase … the LEGO Minecraft project reached 10,000 supporters on CUUSOO within 48 hours.
    There’s yet more to and fro. Here’s a trailer for a computer game made into an animated movie by means of LEGO bricks and minifigures:

Just like to make the confusion of media and categories, the transgression of boundaries, perfect, the stop-motion movie is featured and distributed by Although ‘machinima‘ means ‘the use of real-time 3D computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production. Most often, video games are used to generate the computer animation.’


cyberanthropology reviews

Now that some reviews of my book Cyberanthropology have seen the light of day, it makes sense to begin to collect them [naturally they’re all in German]:
    The Titel-Magazin was first with Ein Buch mit System! (27 September 2011). As short as enthusiastic—and it is very short.
    Next came Karl-Heinz Kohl’s review in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Völkerkunde war gestern, Cyberanthropology ist heute (16 November 2011). Unfortunately behind a paywall on the FAZ-server, but has the full text of the review online (and posted a short notice).
    On 30 November 2011 SWR2 radio aired a review by Martin Zähringer. You can listen to it [2.0 MB | .mp3] or read it [30.4 KB | .pdf].
    And just yesterday Martin Lorber posted a review on EA’s Blog für digitale Spielkultur: Buchvorstellung: Cyberanthropology von Alexander Knorr.
    Boris Uehlinger’s review of Cyberanthropology in Buch & Maus 1/2012: 36.

ACKERMANN, ANDREAS. 2012. Knorr, Alexander: Cyberanthropology [book review]. Anthropos 107 [2012/2]: 632-633.
PISSIN, ANNIKA. 2014. Book review: Cyberanthropology. Digital China 16 January 2014.

tri knot

The above was uploaded to YouTube by McGreyling on 22 September 2010 and shows how to tie a before unknown inverse tie knot. Like Edeity’s knot, Henry Hu’s Hen Tie, and Lord Whimsy’s Merovingian it is of size 11. In the video McGreyling doesn’t stick to the convention of having the tie’s wide blade hanging to the right (from the wearer’s point of view). So, for sequencing I mirrored the movements in the video. In Fink-Mao notation McGreyling’s knot reads like this:
    Ri Co Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co TRi Lo TCi [ET]
    In order to get the nice pattern atop the knot, McGreyling does two through-the-loop movements, marked by T—the [ET] means ‘Eldredge Tuckaway,’ the method Jeffrey Eldredge devised to get rid of the excess narrow end in a clean fashion.
    McGreyling hasn’t named the knot, but asked for ideas for a name. Well, we could christen it ‘Trinity.’ That way we would stay within the Matrix-universe of tie knots … from the ‘Merovingian’ to ‘Trinity.’ But my favourite name would be the ‘Tri Knot.’

via comment by Alexander Rabitsch—tnx