Hobbies for the Sane: How to be a Blend-nerd

Crafted from my own handiwork - note that any abnormalities represent disfigurations of the artist and not faults in the program.

The image above represents the product of the several tutorials I have gone through in the last few months since I discovered Blender, a free, open-source 3d design program. All told, this piece took about 90 minutes from start to finish. While there is a steep learning curve for the product, the weeks spent getting to this point are due more to the other things going on in my life –  I’m not a graphic designer of any kind and have no formal training. I would estimate a combined total of fifteen hours reading and mucking around to get to the final model which I produced just this afternoon. While I do have a fairly capable computer (AMD Phenom, 6GB Ram, Radeon 5770), I think the earlier versions of Blender (v.2.48 for example) would run on most contemporary machines.

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On the Phone with a Sexologist

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Fred Berlin, MD PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore and founder of that same institution’s ‘Sexual Disorders Unit’. I had wanted to keep our conversation short as I felt somewhat unjustified taking up a renowned doctors time when I myself have absolutely no credentials, but found him so attentive and willing that I wished I had prepared a set of more focused and detailed questions. Below I’ll paraphrase his responses to the general topics I inquired about while my memory is still fresh. As a quick disclaimer: I do not propose or intend that these views be taken as those of Dr. Berlin, of Johns Hopkins Medical School, or of any affiliated institutions. These are simply my own interpretations from a brief telephone interview.

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Sex and Violence? – Ask the Duke

**Also posted on :Game/States:**

With the pending release of the much delayed Duke Nukem Forever, we find ourselves at another one of those highly frequented intersections of video games and society, that of sex and violence. Duke Nukem is once again following the same old premise; aliens have come to take our women and impregnate them. Only the Duke can save them.

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Integrative AI

What I wish to explore today – in a rudimentary and truly exploratory way – is the idea of incorporated artificial intelligence, which I will explain in a minute, and its philosophical, psychological and physiological implications and impediments. A couple of working definitions are necessary before we begin. Let ‘artificial intelligence’ refer to an entity capable of independent thought yet not of evolutionary genetic origin. When I speak of ‘incorporation’ or ‘integration’ I mean the inclusion of an artificially intelligent agent acting in close conjunction with a human actor. This, I believe, is not only a technological possibility but highly likely within the next one hundred years. In referring to ‘integrated agent’ or simply ‘agent’ I mean this theoretical entity that is inferred from the above. The ‘actor’ or ‘host’ is the being in which the entity is embedded. I leave my definitions intentionally vague because I cannot pretend to know how the intricacies of development will proceed. It is still possible and useful to examine the implications of this without knowing the details of how it will come about, or even if it will. Think of this essay as a diving board of unknown height into murky water of unknown depth.

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Shame Harper – Vote Rhino!

Harper’s Shame: For the first time in the history of the Canadian confederacy, and in the history of the entire commonwealth, a Prime Minister has been found in contempt of parliament. This means the Stephen Harper government has abused the parliamentary privilege, which is the partial legal immunity we give to our legislators to help them do their jobs. Why does this matter? It basically means that the government (meaning the elected ruling party) has shown a flagrant lack of consideration for the right of the Canadian people, via their elected representatives, to government transparency.

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All Art is Ekphrasis

The difficulty of originality is often lamented by those who endeavour to create, regardless of the medium. While it isn’t true that no art is original, there is no possibility of creating without drawing upon the awesome cannon of existing works. A human child left to their own devices would not be able to develop language let alone the fine crafts of verse, prose and rhetoric. Similarly a three year old with a high hat will not be able to derive the processes that drove the compositions of Schubert. (But Jonah might have a good chance.)

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