David Lynch and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons discuss machines and technology

Billy Gibbons Painting by Eileen Martin from Fine Art America

This is taken from today’s Guardian newspaper’s Film & Music section, which has been guest edited by David Lynch, and it makes for one of the most bizarre “music” interviews ever published:

Gibbons and Lynch – but mainly Gibbons, with the occasional “Doggone right” and “Exactly right, Billy” from Lynch – are talking about the beauty and power of industry. About the roar of factories, the growl of engines, about how the clang and clank speak to something within us. We’re meant to be talking about the block and tackle pulley system, but it’s pretty clear from the start that none of us can sustain a conversation about that, and so the block and tackle is just the key that starts the motor that in turn drives our discussion down the highway.

For Lynch, in any case, the block and tackle seems to be as much metaphor as literal device. It’s a system of pulleys, designed to enable a person to lift a greater weight than they could unaided. The pulley was invented around 2,400 years ago by the Greek philosopher Archytas, a scientist of the Pythagorean school (he’s also thought to have been the first person to invent a flying machine. Bright boy; his mother must have been proud). Then Archimedes realised the simple pulley could be expanded into something with even greater power – the block and tackle system, which he designed to help sailors lift ever greater loads, according to Plutarch. Thousands of years later, the basic system is unchanged: the block is the pulleys – the more pulleys you put in the block, the less the force you need to apply – and the tackle is the rest of the of the apparatus.

“I heard about the block and tackle and I’ve seen it work and it seems so magical,” Lynch says of his fascination. “It’s connected in my mind with the American car” – one of its common usages is to lift the engine block from the body of a vehicle – “and it’s kind of perfect that Billy talks about it. Billy had got a kind of guitar power – I always like the idea that his guitar is gasoline-powered.” That’s not quite the only reason Gibbons is joining us today. When Lynch originally asked for a piece about the block and tackle in this week’s Film&Music, we pointed out that the section dealt with film and music, rather than physics and mechanics. Lynch, though, was insistent. OK, he said, if you’re only going to do it if it’s got a film or music angle, then you can have ZZ Top talking about the block and tackle. And here we are


Read the full article David Lynch and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons dream about machines over at The Guardian.

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Paw ‘em on the glass: The Cat Scan

Have access to a cat and a scanner? Then you too could join the party at The Cat Scan! Please note - no kittehs were harmed in the making of this post.





Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Jason Silva’s Turning Into Gods

Dangerous Minds pal and Singularity enthusiast Jason Silva—you might know him from Al Gore’s Current TV—is working on a documentary on the next stage of human evolution, aptly titled Turning Into Gods.  Alongside the concept trailer below, you’ll also find him waxing philosophical on the “Extended Mind Thesis” put forth by cognitive philosophers David Chalmers and Andy Clark, as well as having an “ecstatic dialogue” with Transcendent Man director Barry Ptolemy. 

Jason will be joining Dangerous Minds as a contributor, writing (and ranting) about the intersection of science and art.  Jason recently completed a pilot produced by Bill Maher for HBO. He has written for Vanity Fair, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Big Think, and will have an article in the October issue of Playboy magazine.  Follow Jason on Twitter here: @jason_silva



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‘Look, I’m on television!’: Steve Jobs preps for the big time

Six years after he graduated high school, and four years after the LSD experiences that he’s called “one of the two or three most important things I’ve done in my life,” and less than two years after he co-founded a company named after a fruit, the biological son of graduate students Abdulfattah Jandali and Joanne Simpson prepped nervously for his first TV interview.

Ya gotta figure most game-changers have found themselves “deathly ill and ready to throw up at any moment,” right?

Thanks, Cameron Macdonald!

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Is it any wonder people are afraid of technology?
07:54 pm


Brass Eye

Technology in your face! BAAAAAM!
(via Dooby Brain)

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Africa Rising: Grassroots-Tech and The Homemade Robot of Togo

Sidewalk wrought iron artisan James Mutahi works his homemade arc welder in Limuru, north of Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Dominic Wanjihia. From Afrigadget.

Preparation for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (which starts in a couple of days) has drawn the West’s attention to the continent as a premiere sports and entertainment venue. But let’s also recognize that African countries have been quietly building a new set of infrastructures based on mobile and web connectivity, grassroots-tech ingenuity and turbo-micro-entrepreneurship.

Kenyan-raised Erik Hersman’s White African and Afrigadget are just a couple of the many blogs raising awareness about Africa’s long-running tech revolution, as epitomized by events like Maker Faire Africa. The below, from JustGiving’s YouTube channel and featured in Afrigadget, teases out some of the more everyday implications:



As a side-note: You may have read about the survivalist trend in America that mostly involves stocking up a panic room with guns, gold and Twinkies. Many populations in Africa continue to survive and innovate through the kind of emergency situations—natural disasters, economic devastation, military dictatorships, etc.—that your friendly neighborhood doomsayer can’t comprehend.  


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment