Friday, May 30, 2008


Amazingly, a heretofore unseen, unknown, uncontacted Amazonian tribe has recently been discovered and photographed--but only by a plane flying overhead. Not quite as surprising, massive logging in the area threatens their way of life, which has apparently gone unchanged for thousands of years. The Guardian has an article and blog post about it, and the BBC deconstructs the pictures.

on design alone

Hillary Clinton's campaign has introduced a t-shirt design competition. Unfortunately, the five finalists' designs are all remarkably awful. See for yourself here. (via murketing via UnBeige)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"a lot of scotch tape"

Who knew that Louis Armstrong made cool collages on his reel-to-reel cases? The Paris Review knew. (Link, via BB)


Ted Sorensen is eighty years old. He worked for John F. Kennedy as an adviser beginning in 1953, when Kennedy was still a senator. Sorensen continued to work for Kennedy until his assassination and then Sorensen worked briefly for Lyndon Johnson. He never held any official position of influence, but he was apparently extremely influential in Kennedy's administration. He also wrote the majority of Kennedy's Pulitzer-prize winning book, Profiles in Courage. Despite his age and lawyerly manner of speaking with excruciating precision (you can see Charlie Rose's exasperation at this habit a couple of times during the interview), he gives an unexpectedly compelling interview.
(Link to video on Charlie Rose's site)

"less about the famous concert and yoga in the mud"

Something about this picture from the New York Times article about the opening of the Woodstock museum, dedicated to preserving the memory of the concert and increasing revenue for Sullivan County, suggests that the reporting therein won't be of the highest caliber. For instance:
So about 60 percent of the museum is about the politics and culture and music of the ’60s: pillbox hats, Elvis, the Bay of Pigs, the Beatles, civil rights, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. And the rest is a quite vivid re-creation of the chaotic and unlikely process that led to 500,000 people shouting, “No rain, no rain, no rain,” during the summer downpours, Jimi Hendrix’s legendary performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and all the rest.


Friday, May 23, 2008

stars of track and field

might that be a balk?

As amazing as this pitch is, it's hard not to feel that it's slightly unfair. Also, that couldn't have been a strike.

not quite steampunk

This contraption looks quite delightful for reasons that are difficult to pin down. (via BB)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

true love

A friend has pointed out that Chris Cooley is a professional football player who also maintains a presence on the internets. He loves his fiance and isn't afraid to show the world why on his personal weblog.

pleased to meet me

23/6 News has done an excellent job of describing the Obama rally in Portland earlier this week, at the end of which "75,000 Oregonians disperse from the park feeling just a little bit more inspired, and a little bit more satisfied with themselves." (Link, via murketing)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The 2008 Columbia Journalism Award was presented to Terry Gross, host of Fresh Air, today.
This is the highest honor bestowed by the Journalism School. It is given to a person whose body of work over a sustained period of time has made a significant contribution to journalism.

Perhaps 2008 was a thin year for significant contributions to journalism.

shared sentiments

(via Salon)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

the choir

Broadsides hide nothing, as their name implies. Meant to induce action or rekindle loyalty to one specific cause or another, they dispense with subtlety and appeal to the strong emotions people have already developed about the subject. They do not induce analytical thinking. A performance, say, of political speeches and songs curated under the auspices of Howard Zinn in Portland, OR, would be unlikely to change anyone's mind because such a performance, naturally, attracts like-minded thinkers.

Carrie Brownstein writes about this event in her NPR blog, Monitor Mix. She cites "a brief excerpt from Eugene Debs' incredible 1918 court speech" as a highlight. Here is an excerpt of the excerpt:
And here let me emphasize the fact-and it cannot be repeated too often-that the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace.

There is nothing wrong Eugene V. Debs or what he has to say here. It just seems so obvious. Later, she says that she was "happy to think that in exchange for a picture with the actor after the show, these fans had to sit through two hours of fiery speeches." Perhaps, she thinks, "this should always be the price we pay for frivolity."

But how would wading through two hours of stuff like this help anyone think for themselves? It wouldn't. They would just become zombies, riding their bikes to rallies.
Lastly, on Sunday, Barack Obama held a rally at Portland's waterfront. Over 70,000 people attended, a record number for his campaign. I rode my bike downtown and merged with a crowd of unfamiliars. My friends were far behind me in the audience or way towards the front and I floated in the middle, feeling perfectly content to experience the event on my own, mostly because I was hardly alone at all. I admit to getting chills when the Obama family took the stage, the crowd surging and cheering and allowing ourselves to imagine a new set of possibilities. Certainly that's been the part of me, of us, that needs rebooting when it comes to politics: optimism, and the will to fight.

oh great

Apparently, the U.S. military is getting tired of threatening war in just one continent. A reconnaissance plane on a "counter-narcotics" mission flew into Venezuelan airspace last Saturday. The Venezuelan government called the fly-over of La Orchila, where "President Hugo Chavez has a residence," "'just the latest step in a series of provocations.'" The U.S. government was more conciliatory and euphemistic:
"Support of Venezuelan air traffic control was greatly appreciated as they rendered assistance in guiding the US aircraft to international airspace," the US Joint Interagency Task Force South said in a statement.

"A US S-3 aircraft conducting counter-drugs operations lost navigational situational awareness causing it to fly into Venezuelan airspace off the mainland coast," the statement added.


too fat

According to the BBC, many police officers in Mozambique "are too fat to run after criminals." To rectify the situation, the officers, many of whom "have very large bellies and drink too much alcohol and smoke cigarettes," will have to take part in a new fitness program:
The physical training involves, among other things, running, gymnastics and simulating the chase of criminals.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hot Poop

Santa Barbara has spawned several ground-breaking artistic creations, such as Kinsey Millhone, Lew Archer, and Jack Johnson. In the late sixties and early seventies, it also incubated a strange crew of people that started a band called Hot Poop. Though they were living in Isla Vista, which was churning in the wake of the burning of a Bank of America, they were not hippies, as they explained to WFMU's Beware of the Blog:
We were never hippies. We were much too cynical. We could see where it was all headed. People don't change and you can only run around waving flowers for so long. In retrospect I really wish that whole movement had figured out a way to get some real power and had changed society. There's too much war, too much violence, too much fear. Whatever happened to make love not war? [....] That [having his head bloodied by police] happened when I was learning about the deep corruption in law enforcement and government up close and personal. I was cooking a baked potato and was dragged from my house and beaten by riot police and then charged with felony attack on a police officer performing his line of duty. A campus newspaper photographer got the picture. I appear so much the martyr in this shot that it appeared in many books, etc., about the Isla Vista riots. Did I mention that this all had to do with a bunch of boneheads burning down the Bank of America?

They also explained the "remarkable" album cover, shown above:
The album cover was my concept. I'm surprised that more people don't get the front cover. It seems rather simple. Hot poop, poop also meaning crap. So Larry's taking a crap, it's being carried over to the others by Jim, Lisa is heating it up (cooking it) in a spoon, I'm shooting it up (doing it) and Bruce is passed out. Hot Poop, doing their own stuff (shit). The photograph was taken in an empty building in Isla Vista. The building actually had no front on it but the photographer drew in the front window shadow to give the allusion that it was a complete building with four sides. The back cover concept I came up with in it's entirety. I wanted us standing in a field of donkeys (I get donkeys and mules mixed up. I said a field of donkeys but I meant a field of mules) with two pictures, one clothed and the other with switched genitalia. In one more amazing Hot Poop moment I stumbled on a field of donkeys/mules almost the second I came up with the idea. We got the photographer and drove out there. The mules were nice enough to crowd around us for the pictures. As we were wrapping it up a helicopter started flying over as I think the land belonged to Union Oil.

(Link, via BoingBoing)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

Garrison Keillor also discussed Cinco de Mayo, Marx and Kierkegaard on "Writer's Almanac"?

August Klenizahler apparently felt the same way.

Johannes de Silentio

Today is the fifth day of May, which is also known as "Cinco de Mayo" in some circles. A nineteenth-century Mexican victory over a colonial power provides the pretext for much celebration and consumption of Mexican beer in America.

There are other causes for celebration today as well. Both Karl Marx and Søren Kierkegaard were born today.

Mr. Kierkegaard preceded Mr. Marx by five years, causing his mother to shriek like a dying man in 1813. He left just 42 years later, in 1855. He doubted whether the time between ingress and egress was something to be enjoyed.

Mr. Marx did not trouble himself as much with the same question. Rather, he sought to describe the larger societal causes of the unhappiness of the mass of people. He was finally divested of materialism in 1883.

A party in honor of all three points of this happy confluence would not be unwelcome.

Friday, May 2, 2008

"In 27 years, I've drunk 50,000 beers"

This line from the Silver Jews' song "Trains Across the Sea" has always intrigued some people. But what are the logistics of this claim? Is it realistic? How many beers per month, week, day would it take?

On the face it, not all that many:

50,000/27=1,851 beers/year
154 beers/month
35 beers/week
5 beers/day

But was he drinking all 27 years? Generously assuming he started at age 15, credulity weakens slightly:

50,000/12=4,167 beers/year
347 beers/month
80 beers/week
11 beers/day

If he was scrupulously legal and started drinking at age 21, however, the schedule acquires another magnitude of rigor:

50,000/6=8,333 beers/year
694 beers/month
160 beers/week
23 beers/day

critical nap

not fired

An office worker in Japan accessed anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 porn sites daily over a nine month period. Apparently, no one noticed until "his computer became infected with a virus," reports the BBC.
His habit reached its peak last July when he surfed for porn more than 177,000 times during office hours.
That works out at almost 10,000 pages a day, or more than 20 each minute he was at his desk.
He has not been sacked but he has been demoted and his pay cut by about $200 a month.


"they all want cake"

Someone has found five pictures of cats that uncannily resemble five pictures of Wilford Brimley. (Link)

blackout poems

Austin Kleon, a "writer, cartoonist, and designer living in Austin, Texas" (and owner of an enviable name) creates poems from pages of a newspaper by blacking out all the words around the ones he wants to use. (Link)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

a forgotten joke?

"Yeah, she wrote me a Dear John letter."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah, and that ain't the worst of it, neither."

"Oh no?"

"Nah, my name ain't even John!"

the gross

Not one of the great interview-based shows, "Fresh Air" nevertheless delivers fairly consistent entertainment on a daily basis.

Occasionally, the interviews, even with unfamiliar guests, merit attention. Yesterday's interview with Lloyd Schwartz, who was discussing the work of the poet Elizabeth Bishop, was truly intriguing. Bishop's poems were read with care by Mr. Schwartz, and, even if the poems were well-known, his readings made them seem new again, and still fresh.

More often, unfortunately, the show trades in the basest of interviewing techniques: biographical equivalency ("This song is about divorce, did you just get divorced when you wrote it?").

Sometimes the interviews are just awful. An example of the depths to which the show can sink came when Terri Gross asked Chiwetel Ejiofor what he was wearing while filming a certain scene in Kinky Boots. The enlightening answer: a green dress with sequins! (Link)

"not universal love"

May Day

The longshoremen of the west coast are striking in order to protest the war on Iraq. The Vermont AFL-CIO has expressed their solidarity with this action as well as "the New York Metro National Association of Letter Carriers who have resolved to conduct two minute periods of silence on May 1st, 2008, at 1PM, 5PM & 9PM in protest of the war and in support of the Longshoremen." (Link)

always already

This is funny, sure, but the claim that Sappho "argubly [sic] defined lesbian ideology" makes one wonder where Louis Althusser would fit that into his ideological schemata. Perhaps he would add LSA to his list of acronyms? Melissa Etheridge would be a mechanism for interpellation then and not a tired reference to set up an easy joke.

corparation attitude

Everything comes from something.