Friday, May 30, 2008

It's raining cranes, hallelujah, it's raining cranes

I suspect that my good friend the HMS "Monkey Dawg" (also known as "back that ass up in some circles) performed a bit of frotterism on a large, industrial crane on Manhattan's upper east side. Yet another has just collapsed. Happy Birthday you deformed, lovable man.

I'm putting together: Collapsing Cranes: The Soundtrack. I've got a few so far but I'm looking to flush out the list. Your help is needed in this time of crisis. So far Ive got:

Chilli Peppers: (If you see me getting high) Knock me Down

They Might Be Giants: They'll Need a Crane

In all seriousness, WTF? Was there a knowledge and skill exodus in the crane industry last year?

F is for Friday
F is for "keep it foolish"
F is for well fucking futile

Peep show and Nathan Barley

Thanks D! Keep it foolish!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What evolution can teach us about the value of music (and content in general) in the digital age.

Back in 2006 I wrote a multi-part series on social media and consumer generated content. Part 4 was a titled The Relative value of Content (is Dropping). This is a expansion on those thoughts and that prediction.

Popular music, perhaps more than any other cultural product uses an evolution like means of reproducing new forms and advancing its existence. It may also be the most clear example and easily observable form of memetic structures and cycles.

Like all systems that employ replication and variation to propel, grow and spread, the more efficient it becomes the greater its output and the less valuable or critical the individual articulations become.

In biological evolution if a species numbers are low the life and well-being of individual creatures is very high. For a species that is endangered the life of every single one becomes a critical factor in the overall survival of the species, let alone its evolution and advancement. Think whales. When a species numbers are high, the value of the individuals is low and each becomes more important in terms of its potential ability to introduce traits that can positively shape the future of the species. Weak individuals with bad traits or poor health can be disposed of and disregarded very casually. Think cockroaches.

If we apply this perspective to popular culture there is a important prediction that we can make about the value of content, particularly music. It is going down and at some point may plummet. The pricing may not yet reflect this but the problems of piracy and distribution are clear signs that there is misalignment.

The amount of new music produced, the channels through which people are exposed to it, and the methods by which it can be stored and consumed have expanded exponentially. The shelf life for its use and enjoyment is looking more and more like the life cycle of a fruit fly. it used to be closer to the life of cat kept as a house pet.

Digital technology, both consumer side and on the production side has put the production, distribution and consumption of music on steroids. What was once a laborious process that kept a species of cultural output alive and growing at a healthy pace is now churning out byproduct that makes rabbits and cockroaches look lethargic.

The music industry should have thought about ways to transform their industry by getting involved and finding profit centers within those disruptive technologies a long time ago. More on that some other time.

(posted via iPhone from the comforts of my decadent and idle escape. Forgive the misspellings and pig knuckled keystrokes)

What my iPhone says about Apple Computer

The closed architecture and opposition to having people "hack" their iPhones to add features and functionality says, in effect, "we know what you should have better than you do". There is another example of something on the iPhone which says "we know better than you do" even more strongly, the spell suggest/correct. You actually have to opt-out to reject the iPhones suggestion as opposed to opting in to accept it. Really annoying given how frequently people use abbreviations and shorts when text messaging. Not only is it presumptive, its overly aggressive.

The other big problem I have with the iPhone is the lack of cut 'n paste. Cut 'n paste is one of the most powerful and important cultural forces in the last 100 years. See my essay: The Frankenstein Aesthetic: Cut n' Paste.

Digitally empowered "Cut 'n paste" has made possible the emergence of what Larry Leesig call's "Read/Write Culture". If you haven't seen his TED talk, do so, right now. The current omission of this feature reinforces my belief that these days Apple Computer is less of a company devoted to "thinking different" and empowering the creative class than it is about the efficient delivery and sales of old world media products like movies and music that are intended to be passively consumed by well behaved consumer.

Fuck that.

(This is such a sore point for me right now becuase I am away an blogging remotely with my iPhone. Adding links and embedding oics and videos is nearly impossible.)

Accidental Branding

I read Accidental Branding by David Vinlanuri yesterday. In the book he tells the story of a number of brands that were created and successfully developed by people with no background in marketing and branding. Included are the stories of J Peterman, Cliff Bar, The Art of Shaving, Baby Einstein and Burt's Bees.

Overall its a good read but the cases he present are uneven. There are a lot of insights and the rise and fall and re-rise story of J Peterman is full of insights and a colorful read. The chapter on Baby Einstein is flat and lacking.

The story he's selling is the "outsider's advantage", that there are rich lessons to be learned from those who forged brands from the depths of their character and passions.

Far from being the exception I believe that almost all great brands are the result of a single individual with a clarity of vision and a piece of steel pipe in their right hand. A quick listing bears this out: Steve Jobs, Martha Stewart, Andy Grove, Henry Ford, George Eastman to name a few. None of the great one's were MBAs or McKinsey wanks. Behind every great brand is a giant asshole raging againt the universe pushing their vision through the painful birthing process of creation and assasinating anyone who steps in the way.

(posted via iPhone from the comforts of my decadent and idle escape. Forgive the mispellings and pig knuckled keystrokes)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spirits in the Material World

Since childhood I've been fascinated my the idea that there might be ghosts, spirits or demonic forces amongst us. Hell, I'd settle for a UFO sighting. Like Mulder "I want to believe" but my best efforts to conjour up Satan or get an alien craft to land in the backyard have turned up bunk.

There is, however, a sense in which there are disembodied beings amonst us. The arise from the modern worlds use of specialized skills and assembly construction. Take for example a commercial you hear on the radio. The voice belongs to no one. One or more people may have crafted the strategy that another person uses to write the individual ads, a copywriter. The resulting scripts are handed to another human being, voiceover talent, to read. The words you hear are supposed to represent a corporate entityor the owner of a product. By the time you hear the words come over the radio dozens of people may have been in involved in their creation and the ultimate responsibilty and ownership belongs to something and somewhere in between all of them and no one at all.

We are surrounded and live with millions of the ephemeral spooks created unwittingly, sometimes begrudgingly from small bits of energy cast off by the hosts that contribute to their existence.

I am still on vacation, attempting to post via mobile phone from my decident and idle escape, please forgive the typos and keystroke error.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Today marks the 2nd Anniversary of The Sherman Foundation Blog

2 years ago I spent a strange and lonely Memorial Day weekend hosting a conspiracy theory film festival, all by myself. I believe the lineup included David Ike's "Secrets of the Matrix" a film about the moon landing hoax and many many other strange titles. I always seem to find myslelf in peculiar circumstances this time of year.

Anyway, happy aniversary to the blog, big thanks to the small but lovingly appreciated body of readers. Now, more than ever, our side is winning!

The Lucifer Principle (A selection from The Sherman Foundation Dangerous Ideas Reading List)

The Lucifer Principle
author: Howard Bloom

Despite current circumstances barring mefron wireless web access I though I might try and post via iPhone. (cut n paste would be very helpful right about now)

Howard bloom's theory in that nature, in its constant evolution of higher forms of order and complexity uses destruction as its primary means. All forms of life destroy and consume other forms of life in order to grow, reproduce and cast off its evolutionary replicants.

Through 400 pages of short essays on history and science he demonstrates the impact that 3 powerful concepts have on individual psychology and human history: 1. The superorganism. 2. Pecking order. 3. Memes (idea)

Everyone throws the concept/word Meme around these days, read this book for a real understanding of what of means. Dawkins "selfish gene" scratches the surface and is woefully incomplete.

I just finished reading this book for the third time. Ot may be the most important thing written in the last 30 years. It elucidates so many aspects of psychology, politics and history in a way that gives true insight into the mechanics of human existence and corrects so many of the distortions and flaws that exist in our shared conceptual frameworks.

Howard, you rock, thank you.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

off the ranch

And off the radar.

Sorry for the hiatus. I will be back sometime next week I hope.

I've been promising a few people a list of some of my favorite podcast for some time.
On the top of that list recently is wnyc's radio lab show.
they do amazing, thoughtful radio drama type investigations into topics like: emergence, contact, time, deception.
Absolutly fantastic stuff. Sorry I can't provide the link, I'm blogging via phone.

The SciAm podcast are excellent as well.

Cheers y'all

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Questions vs Answers

Questions rule. Answers are for insecure, over-reaching disabled people.

Questions are really the defining parameters and the smell of sex.

Think about it. Is Jesus coming back or isn't he?

Ever notice how most films (especially comedies) start to suck when they have to resolve plot point (give answers).

Every smart artist, musician and poet dies young and leaves questions on the table.

The stuff that captivates us about our lovers are the things we don't understand, the questions.

The world is filed with retards that vehemently know the answer, just watch Fox News or listen to the hypocrisy of liberal democrats.

I really felt shorted by the final episode of the Sopranos when it aired. We all speculated in such grand, concrete terms how it might end, Tony gets wacked, the Soprano sings... and what Chase delivered was Schrödinger's cat.

For eternity Tony and his family hover in the probabilistic space between life and death. As time passes I like the ending more and more. Seeing Tony riddled with bullet holes or testifying to a grand jury would had satisfied and suck.

Trying to answer unanswerable questions is what what most of our lives revolve around. Does he/she really love me? do I have enough money? Is Jesus coming back? is Darwin right or does the Bible have the answer. People who cling to answers too vehemently suck no matter what side their on. With answers thinking stops, with questions it begins.

There is no note.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hillary's Downfall

In my heart of hearts I felt that these Hitler remixes had played themselves out. Then I push the play button and start reading the subtitles... and laughing my ass off.

Monday, May 12, 2008

U2 and the Aersosmith Formula

My friend Eris laid this bone crushing take on what U2 has become, Aersosmith. Each album has 1 hit and 4 ballads and 4 fillers.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sense of Smell: Mandles

Mandles: Manly Man Candles come in scents like meat, Chuck Norris sweat, Mickey Mantle, Urinal Deoderizer, charcol, peel out, wet dog, burrito fart, and the A-Team.

See also:
Mancations: Vacations for men.
On Men. A Sherman Foundation Whitepaper

Fact of the day: Satanic Sex

Viagra has a molecular weight of 666.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Its like the movie Very Bad Things, without the dead hooker.

Here is the Urban Dictionary definition. Mancation: It's when you plan a vacation with all your bro's and leave the nagging wives, girlfriends, late night bootie calls all back at home and get piss drunk, hook up with some strange, bust ass and hot box the hotel room.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Booty Dance Videos

One of my goals with The Foundation is to identify points on the cultural grid that don't get noticed or talked about. I also pride myself on my ability to tease out tacit meanings and the mechanics of culture.

Booty dance video are a cultural phenomenon that deserves some analysis but I admit that I am at a loss to reframe these in a way that makes them comprehensible.

These videos are created by teenage girls, often shot in their bedrooms wearing little more than shorts and a tshirt. What makes them a difficult subject to address is the fact that they are extremely sexually suggestive and the girls are often young teens. That said, these video number in the thousands.

The stylistic mannerisms of these dance videos is straight up mammalian display behavior, boogie "presenting".

I understand and why some men might find viewing such video enjoyable. I find the age to oversexuallization ratio uncomfortable.

What I don't understand is why young girls make these? There isn't an immediate payoff like you get when you dressed up, are looking hot, and you go out in public.

I would really be interested in seeing someone interview these girls and ask "why???"

Fashion and Display Behavior

What's a Zune?

This is a dope little spot.

Whatsazune from TheShermanFoundation on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Home Video

I'm not really sure how to process this.
Its quite disturbing.

Its all about the nonverbals

One of the many things that obsessively fascinate me are nonverbals.

I was in San Francisco a few years ago and there was a homeless guy with a cup hustling for change. A man walked by and when accosted by the homeless guy did the shrugging to indicate that he did not speak English. The homeless guy shot back indignantly "everybody know cup, cup is universal". It was a great moment.

Learn your nonverbals.

Love in the time of texting

See Also: I give great txt (Courtship Revisited)