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Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Comic: Needs a title

I went to this awesome make-your-own comic site and made my own, below.

It needs a title. Suggest one. You can buy a bumper sticker of it here.

almost a Net Producer

I watch a lot of videos on I've also made a few of my own. Youtube keeps track of the number of videos you've watched and for each of your videos it tracks the number of its views. I think you can be said to be a net producer (as opposed to net consumer) of content if people are watching your content more than you are watching theirs. I think I'm almost there.

Update! I'm there! I just went and recounted. I'm a net producer of video content on the internet! Yay! (I can't compare blog posts similarly as I don't have an accuracte count of reading other content) When my children were babies they were net producers of excrement. Hopefully the content that qualifies me with official meme-fountain status doesn't smell the same.

Burton MacKenZie

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Today I was thinking about advertising. You have a product or service, and you want to sell the product or service to willing customers. By letting those customers know of your product through advertising (i.e. at no direct cost to them) it is a win-win situation if you have a reasonable product the customers want, selling at a fair price they are willing to pay. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Scott Adams wrote a great piece called Today I Will Improve Your Sex Life. In it, he reports on some research findings stating "researchers asked people to write essays in support of a random point of view they did not hold. Months later, when surveyed, the majority held the opinion they wrote about, regardless of the topic. Once a person commits an opinion to writing – even an opinion he does not hold – it soon becomes his actual opinion. Not every time, but MOST of the time."

I wonder if anybody has attempted to take advantage of this....hmmm....what if i google +contest +"why you love" [whatever it is we're selling]. It seems there are a lot of places holding contests where you have to write them a letter/poem/etc on why you love (their product, or whatever they're supporting). There's one where somebody named Terry Lynch in Alabama has figured out how to have their cake and eat it, too, by starting a I Love the USA Contest that ultimately uses a psychological trick to get you to love the USA if you didn't already, and also charges a $5 fee to enter their contest (as many times as you want, $5 per shot), making them smell like a Vanity Anthology.

What kind of return on investment have these "why you love our product" contests reaped in the past? Are there any case studies? Is this an underhanded and immoral way to generate sales for your company? I say underhanded, because if the aforementioned empirical psychological evidence is true, this type of contest is effectively a 1984ish corporate behaviour modification program to create a loyal customer base. If you enter the contest without knowing the behavioral effect it will have on you, you are being hoodwinked into becoming revenue generating automatons for the corporate machine. I'm looking at you, Harry Potter. Keep your dark psychological manipulating magic to yourself!

Burton MacKenZie

Sunday, March 18, 2007


I'm sure this story needs no preceedings.

My spouse came home with this MuchMusic "Dance Mix 2000" CD, and I was listening to it in the basement. One track had some woman named Rihanna singing over the backing beat sampled from Soft Cell's cover of "Tainted Love" that hooked my interest. I looked at the video on youtube, and it was what i expected, maybe a little less, but the woman singing was so obviously hot as to be using it as part of her marketing.

(Direct Link:

I then went over to a link of her singing two songs live:

(Direct Link:

and decided her singing was really not all that great live. (But hey, all things being equal, still better than mine no doubt) I still like the studio produced version. It certainly doesn't hurt that she's not hard to look at.

I was told that she's actually from Barbados and has a caribbean sounding accent. That means her top 40 singing accent is an affectation. For some reason that really escapes me, this seems to be common in the pop music industry when singers come from overseas. Instead of singing in their own accent, they sound more like Americans or Canadians. I really have to give some shout out kudos to The Proclaimers, who were the last group in my memory to have a top 40 hit here in their own accents.

(Direct Link:

Then I thought "hmmm.....what OTHER music can I hear/see on youtube. After about 30 seconds thought, I decided on some old psychedelic YES from the 70s, but thought I might try something new of theirs, given I like their old stuff. So, I searched youtube for YES and found a link that appeared to be some YES concert of material I'd never heard.

(Direct Link:

I kept thinking "Wow, this doesn't sound like any YES material I've ever heard!" It took me about a full minute into the video, to the point where 5 young Japanese guys start singing in ultragay gold and white suits (I'm no hater - go and see and judge them for yourself!! Denying that is like denying Tattoo was short, may he rest in peace. It's a fucking shovel), to realize this was not a YES concert.

The End.

Here's some classic YES (lookie that hair!)

(Direct Link:

Once I saw Steve Howe, during a concert in 1997, wandering around the stage during a long bit where he was only playing some light background guitar to Jon Anderson's singing. He discovered a crumpled up multicoloured shiny jacket crammed behind something on set, stopped playing to examine it, put on the jacket, and played the rest of the night wearing it. The jacket belonged to the lead singer with The Alan Parsons Project, who had been on the same billing with YES.

This Alan Parsons Project tune sounds a lot like Pink Floyd, which is no surprise as Alan Parsons Engineered Dark Side of the Moon.

And there you have it.

Burton MacKenZie

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Here's some Junior High Art.

This kind of haphazard binder art is cultural icon representing the indifferent boredom (real or affected) of youth. It's now available on a T-Shirt at a vendor near you! (and let me know if you want me to create any different apparel versions)

I find the style of this one reminiscent of that early-mid 70s geometric bubble art.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I was thinking of an old popular electronics from the mid-90s, in which it provided a schematic for a white noise generator....for communicating with the spirits of the dead. Some people believe that you can communicate with spirits via white noise.

I was thinking, "yeah, what a bunch of crap", but then my mind wandered off and I started pondering implications of the universe being deterministic or not. If it is determined, then we're brains in a jar and we are who we are, some set of variables in a temporal-solving equation that can perceive themselves, but are too stupid to realize we have no free will in the matter (Punocchio!). I have no problem with that.

If the universe is inherently random, maybe we are in a high ground "Island of Determinism" in a polydimensional sea of randomness. The randomness only laps at the shoreline of determinism, giving us a horizon with an unknowable beyond.

[Tangent Side Conversation: Is there only one island of determinism (i.e. us), or an infinite number of them? Could we make a deterministic artifice (a simulation) to somehow carry us to other deterministic universes via the sea of randomness, just as islanders could build boats to get to the neighboring islands? Can we emigrate to other seperate deterministic realities via a deterministic artifice? Is it possible that humans will not only attempt to spread across the globe and spread into space, but they will also take to other realities! Now go mention that to the 7-11 clerk at 3 a.m.! They'll think you're experiencing an auto-titrated alternate reality that still, unfortunately for the clerk, has 7-11s in it. (see "Self-Adjustment of Dose" at drug library)]

What if intelliences existed in this "outer" random universe. Could they communicate with us? How? As I pondered this, I thought, "if you want to communicate with a bat, you need to go ultrasonic - we have to encode our messages in their perceptual band, even if it is outside of ours." With us, you communicate via our five senses, or via machines we have created to translate information that is inperceivable to humans (e.g. FM radio waves) into something that IS perceivable (e.g. 20Hz-20kHz audio from decoding FM radio waves). We can easily capture some arbitrary finite bandwidth of physical-based random noise source and translate it into sensory input for us. For example, you could take Shot Noise and turn it into audio information to be perceived indirectly by hearing it. The machine's perceptual transformation of information becomes a cyborg synesthesia of a random process for us.

It only makes sense that if an intelligence from outside our deterministic universe wished to communicate with us, it would have to do so through the boundary of its universe that we can perceive. That is, we must look for patterns in sources of human-instrument-perceivable randomness (such as Shot noise or other hardware-based sources of physical randomness). If messages from them were anywhere, they'd be there. From where else could you perceive a random universe while within a deterministic one?

The tragic end to this is that if there is a truly random universe outside our own deterministic one, it would necessarily have other intelligences in it - in fact, an infinite number of them! Truly random (full spectrum) noise contains all signals. "Decode" any message you want. The tragedy is that the "real" messages are meaningless because in the infinite random universe, they're all real, even the fake ones.

To receive a message from the random universe, first defy causality by writing yourself the message you wish to receive from them. Save it as a text file (and maybe compress it, which will make the contents of the file look more random). Declare the "number" created by the file contents in hexadecimal to be the random number. This "random number" magically contains a message, which of course, is your original one. You can claim it is a message from another reality, even if the message itself denies it (now this would be a satisfying implementation of irony. (I'm looking at you, Alanis Morissette!)

Here's a message I just decoded from the random universe:

Hi Burton. You have a nice shirt.
Would you like some candy? It's made with irony!
Yummy irony!
Everybody should send Burton money.
And ride your bicycle.

At first I wasn't sure what to make of it, but then I realized a) it greets me, b) it compliments me, c) offers me resources (with an ingredients list!), d) offers favourable opinion on said resources, e) suggests sound economic policy, and f) encourages us all to stay healthy. I think they're trying to sell us something!

If you believe you have free will (which requires unpredictability/randomness), then you should get right on that sound economic policy. That's what it means to have true randomness exist in this universe. I have no problem with that, either. Twenties are fine. Thanks, Spirits of the Random Universe!

Burton MacKenZie


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