Viridian Note 00205: Weird Vintages of 2000

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
privileged lifestyles, wine connoisseurs, climate, Neologue Contest
Attention Conservation Notice
Even a little alcohol can impair judgement, while alcoholism is a serious illness. Contains reams of hilarious wine-speak. A whole lot of Neologue stuff here as well. Over 2,500 words.

(((As bourgeois-bohemian, virtual-intelligentsia types, we Viridians enjoy a fine California vintage, whether or not it is solar-powered. (See Notes 00104, 00109.) However, even the most febrile and detached boozing rich-idiot should raise an eyebrow over the effect of Greenhouse weather on the vintages of 2000.)))


"Harvest 2000 Dispatch, Part One: North Coast California Zinfandel and Pinot Noir

"The first results of the 2000 Northern California harvest are in, and the judges (that is, winemakers) have pronounced it ... weird! Very good, in fact, and potentially excellent. But weird.

"Things started swimmingly last spring, when a warm, dry flowering period was agreeably followed by a moderate summer (jarred only by a two-day, 100-degree spike in June). A scarcity of marine fog, combined with reasonable air temperatures, bestowed unusual maturity on the grapes by late August.

"Then came the weirdness. Around Labor Day weekend, the normal kickoff time for harvest, unexpected rainsqualls disrupted the previously placid weather. Next came scorching heat, igniting a furnace under early-ripening grapes, which started pouring into wineries by the megaton. (...)

'We've seen more dramatic differences in ripening this season than we have in 10 years,' reports Kent Rosenblum, president and director of winemaking at Rosenblum Cellars, which makes single-vineyard Zinfandel from all over Northern California. 'Because of the long flowering period in the spring, we're getting everything from green to very ripe fruit in the same vineyard. We had to pick selectively, then come back again in two weeks.'

"Rosenblum also observes that, 'There's been no rhyme

or reason to the order of things. In a normal harvest, Contra Costa County (east of San Francisco, bordering on the Central Valley) grapes would come in first. This year, Paso Robles (Central Coast) was first, then northern Sonoma, and then Contra Costa.' Consistent with such contrariness, Rosenblum says that, 'some big-name vineyards are having trouble, but there are also some big winners. Our Dry Creek and mountaintop vineyards look great, and Mendocino looks unbelievable. It's also going to be a magnificent year for white wines == our Viognier, Roussanne, and Chardonnay are all looking beautiful.'

Joel Peterson of Ravenswood agrees that this year's Mendocino Zins are 'spectacular.' He also concurs that the customary picking progression was way out of whack, and that Zinfandel contained 'many more raisins than you'd normally expect. That means the wines will be high in alcohol, but the acids and pHs stayed within good bounds, so they're also well balanced. The colors and flavors are great; the wines are dark and spicy. Some people are comparing this vintage to '97, but I think it's more fruit-forward. In general, it's very successful.'

"That's only half the story of this eccentric harvest,

though. After the torrid September heat, early October turned downright wintry: The jet stream dropped a Pacific storm out of the Gulf of Alaska, bringing yet more rain as well as record low temperatures. As a result, unpicked Bordeaux varietals == Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc == came to a ripening standstill in mid- October. The extended hang time promised great flavor development == if the rest of October straightened up and acted like an autumn we might recognize.

"Click here:

to view our selections of California Zinfandel. "Click here: to view our selections of California Pinot Noir."

Viridian Neologue Contest This Contest Ends in Four Days: October 31, 02000

The place to find other Viridian competitions, including earlier entries in the ever-burgeoning Neologue Contest:

From:^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^*? (Alan AtKisson)

A computer that listens, and knows when you are frustrated with computer-related technology. Grunts, moans, "This damn thing ...", all elicit the immediate response: "You are being assimilated."

From:* (Daniel Smith)

The "Inner Voice" is an outrageously expensive behavior modification tool that will be used by the Hollywood types to 'help them find their way.' An example: the device would recognize the sound of a match or lighter, and direct a predetermined response at the would-be smoker. The responses could range from a gentle, verbal reminder of the dangers of smoking, to an attention grabbing coughing fit, to an electric shock.

It could also be used to count the number of times the fridge opens.

It could pick up on a favorite, but annoying, phrase such as, "uh, um, well, ya know" or any other habit that contained a simple verbal clue.

From:** (Dave Whitlock)

During my experiences in the Berkeley riots of the last decade I noticed an interesting aspect of crowd mentality. People in the crowd are hyperaware of the mood of their neighbors and thusly react swiftly to any comment that draws their attention. Concepts are generated and conveyed without being attributable to any one person.

Allow me to conjure up a vision of the device we might build upon this phenomenon: the CROWD MORALITY BARNACLE.

This would be a device as small as possible, powered by something as ecofriendly as the piezoelectric quartz microphone (there is PLENTY of ambient sound at a riot). The barnacle is programmed to respond to key riot phrases with other, counter-phrases. EXAMPLE : phrase " smash" = result "be careful"

phrase "burn" = result "it might explode" phrase "get them!!" = result "where are the kids?!"

Thousands of cheap, tiny CROWD MORALITY BARNACLES could be rained down upon violent protests, thus defusing the

hostile dynamics of a "crowd mentality" in riot mode.^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^**
(Matthew Rubenstein)


Mounted in pictureframes, pedestals, and ID tags, Kibbitzware listens to people talking about the art objects to which they are attached.

When people talk about what other people said about art, audio/video of other people talking about art is replayed. When people talk about how they feel, they can be connected with other groups of people whose feelings are related to theirs. When people talk about other art, other

art is displayed on a screen or played from speakers.

From:* (Emmett Shear)

Automatic Schedule Repeater.

Ask, "Where do I have to be next?" As you have previously entered your schedule into the memory of the small device, it replies "The next class/event/place you have to be is <place you have to be>."

From:* (Emma Baillie)


Ever had that problem of having a nifty invention, and no snappy label to pin on it? Need someone to brainstorm with, but can't get any of your friends to sit still long enough?

The <Insert-Name-Here> device possesses a voice recognition chip, an encyclopedic and thesauric knowledge of the English language, and limitless patience. Simply bounce your ideas off its free-associating brain and see what comes back.

In a reversal of the usual cliche, in this partnership it is the machine which is the creative side, while the human acts as the rational, sensible, BS-detecting component.

For instance:

"I need a name for this machine .... ummm ...what it does, right, is it helps people brainstorm their ideas"

>brain, mind, lightning, thunder, thoughts. Rain, rain, go

away. Raining cats and dogs. Image, imagination. Imagicreation. The ThunderThinker. BrainRain

"No, I don't want anything soggy. Something hip and up-to- the-minute"

>hip, cool, groovy, snappy, sharp. Sharp mind. So sharp

you'd cut yourself. Self-sharpener. Thinking... thinking... electric thoughts. Electric Unconscious. Eclectic electric unconcious.

"Yes, I think we're onto something there"

>on, off, in, out, up, down. Brain On. Have you tried

adjusting the "on" switch? On target. On track. On-track- mind. The wheel's still spinning, but the hamster's dead in a shoebox under the rosebushes...

emma baillie

From:* (Rak Razam)

IDEA #1> A voice-activated device reads the electrical synapses of your brain, maps and graphs them, and sends out preset pulses that have a calming effect. Can be triggered by a spoken word command.

IDEA #2> Voice-activated microdisplays. EMagin and InViso are coming out with eSHADES that use microdisplay screens. The visors are your machine interface between you and the baseline reality. Voice activated screen visors could allow you to control the stream of incoming visual data and remix it. Your personal organizer, DVD, MP3 player, Digicam could be wired by bluetooth, so simple commands like PLAY> STOP> RECORD> etc function and load onto your headset visor.

If the visor is loaded with say, Photoshop or DVD editing software and a head mounted camera, all incoming signals could be remixed on the fly by voice activated triggerwords, turning your world into a morphing self reflexive video clip. Add soundtrack. Choose from the hundreds of MP3 files on your RIO which is also voice activated and networked to the visors.Cut n paste reality.

Command> SHAZAM! It might take more than one chip to get the full gamut of editing software onto the visor, but imagine walking down the street with your eSHADES on, streaming video feeds of what's around you, then uttering triggers like >GAUSSIAN BLUR, and the street shimmering and blurring, or >INVERT and everything going black to white, >FINE EDGES, >MEZZOTINT, or simply >RECORD, >PLAYBACK, etc. Interactive art breaks down linearity and the static monotone of mere reality.

From:^* (Jonathan Blocksom)

  • A book which remembers what page you were on, and can verbally tell you if you ask it when you pick it up again.

  • Roller blades which turn on the brakes when you say "brakes", or maybe just when you start screaming.

  • Here's one with serious commercial potential: The Harry Potter ancillary-products wand. If you're holding this wand and you say the spell "Lumos" and flick it, it "magically" lights up.

From:* (Andrew M. Dixon)


"Mmm he's your cash & credit chum, your money mindin' mate, your budget buddy!"

He speaks your language! "Oh, please Mikey, let me buy it!"

[technical summary][user interaction][character] [proof of concept][future][contact]

MikeyMoneyMinder is the perfect post modern consumer desirable item.

  • credit conscience (you can leave it at home)
  • a wallet with attitude! It'll change your life == it changed mine.

MikeyMoneyMinder can be:

*your financial advisor *your best friend *the devil on your shoulder *the angel at your side *your confidante *your identity you choose...

Technical summary.

MikeyMoneyMinder is a basic wallet (or billfold?) with the following additions:

*voice recognition + audio out *display *sensors *processor + memory

Voice recognition + audio using the ISD SR3000 Embedded Speech Recognition Engine audio out == speaker, headphone == radio-signal to mobile phone, MP3 player (bluetooth?)

Displays (in addition to speech audio-out): *Wad thickness (Cash): fat, modest, thin, empty *Credit Card frequency == you have used your credit card 3 times today/this week/hour (which is 1 use every 4.7 hours). *Time == home, Sydney, Laos *Messages as well as speech.

Sensors MikeyMoneyMinder senses: *the thickness of your cash wad (strain gauge or similar) *the presence and absence of your credit card(s), e.g. micro-switch operated *whenever you remove and replace a card.

Sensors in addition: *light/dark *skin moisture *temperature

Memory and processing *Memory could be added to record consumer habits, give greater variety of responses etc., or to add on *tamagotchi behavior *bank and credit details

User interaction

MikeyMoneyMinder jumps into action on hearing his name "Mikey". He then responds intelligently upon hearing key words like 'cash', 'credit cards', 'opinion' or 'think'. Responding and advising with facts, support, encouragement, or the surreal. MikeyMoneyMinder knows how much cash you have in your wallet, frequency of use of your store and credit cards, the time of day, your skin moisture, the temperature.

He communicates through a discrete speaker in the outer sleeve of the wallet, or even through your phone or MP3 player. He also has an LCD screen.

Some examples:

"Mikey, what's my cash situation?" <You have $200 dollars, and it's getting dark, let's shop!> "Mikey, how are you feeling?" <I'm fat as a cow, thank you> <I'm feeling kinda empty, feed me!> <My cards have all but seized up.>

"Mikey, tell me Honey, should I buy this?" <well, you've already spent $10K to day, maybe you should go home and rest> [senses skin moisture] <put the thing down and get out of the shop fast, you are showing strong signs of panic buying!> <well it's simply divine!> <think of the stratosphere, buddy, do we need another heatwave?> <is it organic?>

Mikey (on his/her own) <I'm bored, let's go shopping> <I want fruit!, Buy me a melon!> <Art, art, I need art to live, buy me a Picasso, a Hirst or a picture postcard, now!>


Mikey comes in the following characters with their own temperaments and attitudes.

Miser <put that card back> Credit junky <ooh, do it again> Big brother <is that legal?> Viridian <is it low-carbon and does it go zzinggg?> Eddie Izzard <llamas in tights, well, I'd have one!>

Tamogotchi-esque functionality:

The tamagotchi creature lives on the LCD screen on the inner sleeve of the wallet, it is has similar functionality to the original but the inputs are as follows: inputs: food = cash, health = card use frequency, fun = responding to Mikey's requests (built in game). You could set the cash levels and card frequency for low card use = healthy creature, or vice versa.

First stage == proof of concept

The concept could be proved. One sensor + voice recognition unit moving on to incorporate other important sensors, and then process information from all sensors to drive the interaction.

More Modules

Internet connection Home upload socket Games & more characters More sensors, voice analysis, Security = <stop thief!> Translation

The future

MikeyMoneyMinder is upgradeable. The modular concept allows the user to adapt Mikey to their own needs and personality. It can have web functionality, for online banking or communication with other Mikey Wallets. It could fit into clothing == wearable wallets. It could use Bluetooth and other developments to talk to MP3, mobile phone, WAP, LCA databases == the possibilities are Mikeytastic.

More details (can be invented/provided) and rough word- drawing sketches are available.


Andrew Dixon Research Fellow in Eco-Design School of Engineering Sheffield Hallam University Howard Street Sheffield S1 1WB ++ 44 (0) 114 225 3091(tel) ++ 44 (0) 114 225 3433 (fax)

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O