At The Brain's Gate

Not long ago, I discussed the sports videogamer as postmodern puppeteer:

What is interesting is that instead of strings controlling the puppet, there is a stream of digital bits travelling back-and-forth down the controller cord (and perhaps soon wirelessly?) to control the virtual character. Instead of the puppeteer using a complex series of arm, elbow and wrist movements to position the puppet, the code or combination of movements required to position the virtual character is now enacted by one's fingers and thumbs — one's digits.

So the controller's movements have transformed from originating in the core trunk muscles, down the limbs, to the digits. Perhaps in the future EEG signals will prevent any muscular movement from being necessary at all.

As it turns out, it was a future with a very short time horizon. Meet Matt Nagle, a 25-year-old C4 quadriplegic (paralyzed from the neck down), who is the first human fitted with the BrainGate Neural Interface.

Relevance: he can beat you at PONG, that early videogame representation of tennis, without lifting a finger but rather by thinking the moves, which is perhaps the most vivid example to date of the shift from the analog to the digital.

Priming the Pump of War?

I am wondering about the NBA All-Star Game: can anyone possibly explain to me the half-time show featuring Big & Rich, with a country singer wearing what appeared to be a Confederate army tunic, the black rapping cowboy, and the dancing short midget?

Courtesy of Ann Borowski/Big and Rich Fan Photos

Is this sportocratic evidence of a society heading towards a "Post-Ethnic, Post-Racial Fascism"?

The Mark of the Beast?

I have talked quite a bit recently about identifying athletes in databases with primary keys, so the humour was particularly dark and relevant when SportsFilter pointed me to the web page for the NHL's Miroslav Satan.

Parsing the Small Print

Now, of course I realize that we never read the small print on the back of our tickets, most likely because there is so much of it and it is so small … that is, we are drowning in the excess of difficult jargon and dammit, we are here to be entertained!

So I thought it would be useful to take a look and parse the legalese — or break the ticket down, to use the sports vernacular. Here we go:

  • This ticket is a revocable license.
  • You don't own anything. You are licensing the use of their space for a limited period of time, and that right can be taken away from you at any time.

  • The holder, on behalf of the holder and any minor accompanying the older (individually and collectively, the "Holder"), agrees to all of the terms hereof and all arena rules and standards of conduct posted in or about the arena.
  • Even though you didn't read this, and even though the constant barrage of advertising at the arena prevents you from seeing any posted rules, you agree to our terms.

  • The Holder agrees not to transmit, distribute, or sell (or aid in transmitting, distributing or selling) any description, account, picture, video, audio or other form of reproduction of the event and any surrounding activities (in whole or in part) for which this ticket is issued (the "Event").
  • This seems to lead a lot of credence to the fact that the true purpose of the sports stadium is to act as factory for the I3-manufacturing process. Not coincidentally, it is the first major sin listed in the legalese of the ticket.

  • This ticket may not be used for any form of commercial or trade purposes, including, but not limited to, advertising, promotions, contests or sweepstakes, without the express written consent of the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club and the NBA.
  • We'll control that, thank you very much.

  • The Holder may be refused admission or expelled if his/her presence or conduct is deemed objectionable, in which case this license is cancelled and the Holder waives all claims, including any claim to a refund of the ticket price.
  • It is interesting that despite the precise language used in all legal contexts to specifically outline something, they leave in an extremely ambiguous phrase such as "is deemed objectionable". What does that mean? Who decides? When I was at the Raptors game last week, an usher barked at a patron to take off his hat during the national anthem. Is that behaviour (leaving the hat on), which was objectionable to the usher, sufficient grounds for ejection? What about if the guy had mouthed back to the usher to mind his own business? What about if such an act of "non-patriotism" took place right after a terrorist attack? What about if he had brown skin? Just wondering …

  • A valid ticket must be produced upon entering the arena and at any time thereafter upon request.
  • We have discussed this type of Deleuzian control a great deal recently.

  • Restricted items, including the following, are prohibited from being brought into the arena: alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, bottles, cans, food products, air horns and all forms of audio/video recording or transmitting devices.
  • You will not cut into the rents we earn through our concessions, which the average patron would consider grossly overpriced, but which the economist would believe are priced just right given the time and location utility they fulfill.

  • Breach of any of the foregoing, or the refunding to the Holder of the printed purchase price of this ticket, shall automatically terminate any rights that the Holder may have hereunder; shall render illegal and unauthorized the Holder's use of the ticket for any purpose; and shall authorize the Toronto Raptors or the NBA to withdraw the ticket, refuse admission to the arena, or eject the Holder from the arena.
  • Break our rules and you're gone. We can also keep the ticket so you cannot even see in retrospect what your rights were.

  • Breach of any of the foregoing shall also subject the Holder to all legal remedies available to the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club, the NBA or their respective affiliates.
  • Plus, we'll sue your sweet ass if we feel like it.

  • Resale or attempted resale of this ticket at a price higher than that printed herein is grounds for seizure or cancellation without refund or other compensation.
  • Once again, don't even think about trying to undermine our monopoly rents by scalping these tickets.

  • The Holder grants permission to the NBA and the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club and its affiliates (and their respective licensees and agents) to utilize the Holder's image, likeness, actions and statements in any live or recorded audio, video, or photographic display or other transmission, exhibition, publication or reproduction made of, or at, the Event without further authorization or compensation.
  • This is the one that completely blew me away. Were you aware that, despite how closely they guard the image rights of their own assets (ie. the players), they can take your image or voice or whatever, and do whatever the hell they feel like with it — all without having to pay you a dime? But we want to be on camera …

  • THE HOLDER OF THIS TICKET VOLUNTARILY ASSUMES ALL RISK AND DANGER of personal injury (including death) and all hazards arising from, or related in any way to, the Event, whether occurring prior to, during, or after the Event, howsoever caused and whether by negligence or otherwise.
  • Pretty self-explanatory.

Weird Sports-Related Images You Find On The Internet #4

Courtesy of Czerka Industries

Q Scores

Another important component of the information networks that modulate the professional sports matrix: the Q Score. Researched by Marketing Evaluations, Inc.,:

Q Scores are the industry standard for measuring familiarity and appeal of performers, characters, sports and sports personalities, broadcast and cable programs as well as company and brand names. Based on our "One of My Favorites" concept, Q Scores actually summarize the various perceptions and feelings that consumers have, into a single, but revealing, "likeability" measurement.

A short excerpt from one of their sample reports is included below.

Courtesy of Marketing Evaluations, Inc.