David Byrne's trip report from Berlin's Stasi museum is really smart and insightful. I love reading Byrne's blog -- the way he skips among subjects and ties it all together in the end. There's no musician whose work I admire more, and it's wonderful to see him producing such good work in other media. This is one of the things I love most about blogs: getting to shoulder-surf thinkers who make me smarter.
The Stasi Museum is inside one part of a former massive compound that enclosed many city blocks. Parking and entrances were inside the compound, so no one could see who was coming or going. And the whole complex is now for sale! For one Euro! Well, I’m sure there are conditions. I think the city is trying to sell it to the country if they will turn it into a proper museum. As is, it’s rudimentary. One floor of former offices displays clunky spy devices: cameras in logs, behind buttons and in fake rocks. Here’s one in a birdhouse – a little obvious, I think.
Maybe the intent was NOT to hide this surveillance gear too well, the idea possibly being to make people aware they were being looked at and listened to. If you’re not aware you’re being observed then you won't live in fear, so what’s the point? Sometimes buildings here in the U.S. put up fake surveillance cameras in the hopes of discouraging perps. Of course, it wasn’t all just nutty surveillance stuff – people’s lives were ruined, destroyed, their careers came to a dead end at the least suspicion, there were prison terms and torture without stated reason (where have I heard that one before?) and information and culture was heavily censored. And the food wasn’t that great, either.
Neglected public payphones in New York City are being turned into “GuyFi” stations: a place where one can rub one out for the sake of “stress relief.” Annalee Newitz reports on the wank booths from a company named “Hot Octopus”… The company reported that at least 100 men used the booth on its opening day […]
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company’s consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are […]
Remember back to the time when people thought java was just a hip way to talk about coffee? Or you vaguely remembered from geography class that it’s an island in the South Pacific? We’ve come a long way since then and now that we’ve rocket blasted into the tech future, you’re going to need to […]
Plastic is so 2013. You don’t want to buy something only to throw it away or lose it and barely care. You like nice things and want to hang onto them. The Plazmatic lighter here is a high quality, high tech alternative to the typical cheap, plastic lighter you get at the old gas station. […]
Real engineers build things. Super cool engineers build things with their hands and fingers, like our engineering forefathers did. No idea where to even begin to do that? This step by step Arduino course is now 92% off and is going to get you up and running, from zero to hero, in no time. So […]