Tag Archives: psychology

Making a day of it – BSFA 50th anniversary bash, plus other stuff

OK, so this is primarily a kind of double-barrelled heads-up message to anyone considering going to the British Science Fiction Association’s 50th anniversary shindig on Wednesday 26th November.

Alert level 1: It looks like I’ll be going. So if that’s off-putting, best cancel your attendance; if that’s a thrilling prospect, book your train ticket right away!

poster for Battlespaces 1 (click for full size)Alert level 2: Other Stuff Is Afoot In London. Geoff ‘BLDGBLOG’ Manaugh is doing two talks on the 26th; the details for the earlier one aren’t out yet, but the evening one has been fully announced: entitled ‘Battlespaces 1’, it runs between 7pm and 9pm at the J Z Young Lecture Theatre at UCL, inside the Anatomy Building on Gower Street (which is about a mile or so from the BSFA bash venue, if my map-fu is any good). Full details are available at the Complex Terrain Laboratory, but to sum it up briefly:

Contemporary political discourse on armed violence and insecurity has been largely shaped by references to spatial knowledge, simulation, and control: “human terrain,” “urban clutter,” “terrorist sanctuaries,” “failed states,” “core-periphery.” The historical counterpoint to this is to be found in the key role the successive technologies of clock, engine, computer, and network have all played in spatializing the practice of warfare. In this context, what implications do “feral” Third World cities, “rogue” cities organized along non-Western ideas of urban space and infrastructure, and “wild” cities reclaimed by nature, have for the battlespaces of today and tomorrow?

Mmmm, Zeitgeist – and very sf-nal, I think you’ll agree; Manaugh was briefly the most interesting poster on io9 before the inevitable economics of search terms ousted his speculative architecture pieces in favour of more Ten Craziest Battlestar Who-Heroes Chronicles SPOILARZ!!-type stuff.

As you may have guessed already, it is my intent to attend this talk (and the earlier one, if it proves to be temporally and spatially accessible), and to drag Mr Manaugh along to the BSFA party afterwards if he’s not too tired/busy/sane (no kidnapping required, as he has already expressed an interest).

If this sounds like something you’d like to come to as well, drop me a line and we’ll make a mission of it. After all, days out in London should be crammed with as much interesting stuff as possible, if only so as to maximise on train fare value. AMIRITE?

Graffiti, logo design and synchronicity

I’m sure this must happen to other bloggers, too; over the course of a few days, from completely unrelated sources, a set of posts on a subject of interest to you that isn’t your normal blogging subject will arrive in your RSS reader, as if orchestrated from afar.

But I’m still too woolly-headed with a cold to make some sweeping statements about synchronicity and the Zeitgeist acting in some emergent harmony … not to mention writing anything coherent and interesting about science fiction literature (with two pending book reviews stewing at the back of my brain already).


So instead, you get a round-up post on graffiti.

First up, via Anders Sandberg, comes Graffiti Archaeology – a Flash-based site that examines the accretion and interaction over time of pieces of graffiti in certain locations. Nicely made – I generally loathe Flash sites, but this is the sort of thing it actually does really well.

Next, this is what happens when a professor of psychology and culture starts looking at graffiti with the perspective of an outsider trying to understand a body of work within the context it was made in – Bill Benzon’s series of three posts [link to first in series] at The Valve feature not just images of graffiti, but examinations of the settings and contexts within which they appear. I’ve been fascinated by graffiti culture for years, but I’ve never found myself asking as many questions about it as Benzon. [The image above is clipped from Benzon’s article.]

[As with much of what I read at The Valve – a group blog to which the wry and subtle Adam Roberts is a contributor – I can’t be entirely sure how serious an article this is (they’re way too cunning with their language sometimes) – but joke or not, it’s fascinating stuff.]

And finally, Matthew Ingram’s piece at Stylus Magazine examines the history of the band logo, which has conceptual roots in graffiti as well as political activism and typography of a more pedestrian commercial type. Nice to see a couple of obscure bands that I’m a fan of raise their heads in the images included – a VCTB gold star to the person who guesses which two I mean! Answers in the comments field, if you want to play.

In the meantime, I will post something related to science fiction as soon as circumstances permit. Thanks for your patience.

The centre cannot hold – politics and moral reasoning

A forthcoming psychology paper is bound to provoke some lively debate on matters political.

In researching the way people reach moral judgements (and finding in the process that an awful lot of it boils down to subsequent justification of instinctive decisions), the psychologists have concluded that people with conservative political attitudes have more subsystems in their moral processing brain centres than their liberal equivalents. Ample opportunity for spin from both sides with those results, I’d say. Watch closely for the first salvoes!

[Cross-posted from Futurismic]