December 14, 2009

dish network pirate tv

"Dish Network will continue to secure additional channels until only authorized subscribers can view Dish Network programming..."

[embedding is once again disabled; watch the pirate channel here]

September 21, 2009

2008 human development index

I'm not really going anywhere with this, but I thought it was interesting that the United States is ranked 15th by the UN's Human Development Index (the aim of the Index is to report a broader range of factors than GDP, the most common method of comparing the relative development of countries, using "normalized measures of life expectancy, literacy, educational attainment, and GDP per capita" -- more detail here), after (in order) Iceland, Norway, Canada, Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Luxembourg, Switzerland, France, Denmark and Austria.

August 18, 2009

my august vacation in monumental infrastructures which i observed and/or utilized

Jess and I always make a (masochistic) point of visiting the deep South during the hottest month of the year.

atlanta-airport.jpg
hartsfield-jackson international airport

atlanta-water.jpg
the city of atlanta bureau of water's hemphill complex

birmingham-coal.jpg
alabama power's miller steam plant

atlanta-freeways.jpg
the intersection of I-20, I-85, and I-75 in atlanta

July 13, 2009

enviro-bear 2000

I think we can be fairly sure that Enviro-Bear 2000: Operation Hibernation is the world's most advanced game simulating being a bear trying to drive a car. I hear the control scheme is kind of difficult, but surely the frustration is all worth it when the command "Hibernate!" flashes on the screen and you successfully steer bear and car into the cave.

[via Rock, Paper, Shotgun]

July 8, 2009

June 8, 2009

twits

Jess pointed me to this article on Slate which catalogues single-post users of Twitter; the lone posts range from the cryptic ("pmosterday Director of Advancement 12:55 PM Nov 20th, 2008") to the useless ("kttheet Wearing a gigantic t-shirt (2XL). 9:56 PM Apr 22nd, 2008") to the somewhat poetic ("mundial marching backwards toward the source of the four winds 9:45 AM Jul 17th, 2007").

Since everything on the internet should have a winner, I nominate DouglasAllen:

"I am writing an email to the makers of Spray N Wash to thank them for making a product that got the blood stains out of my new PJs and robe. 7:40 PM Aug 27th, 2007"

May 25, 2009

you know what? power to joe the plumber at that point.

Maybe I have lived in DC too long, but I think this is the raddest thing ever. Considerably better than the first two, which aren't exactly shabby.

May 8, 2009

treadarounds and other surprisingly accurate absurdities

treadarounds.jpg

[from a New York Times blog on "Searching for Value in Ludicrous Ideas", about the cartoons of Steven M. Johnson; link via Pruned]

April 29, 2009

"this is a more serious business than it looks"

I am having a very hard time deciding which paragraph/anecdote in this piece on the emerging subculture of 'superheroes' (or 'reals', as some apparently refer to themselves) is the most humorous. Maybe you can help me.

[via Old is the New New, whose post title, "The Desert of the Reals", I badly wanted to steal; should've been "Welcome to the Desert of the Reals", though]

April 15, 2009

a memo to prince concerning the 1990 album "graffiti bridge"

Sasha Frere-Jones:

Dear Prince,

I got your note about the font. I think you'll agree that it's hideous enough now. Oh, and I'm not sure if I understood exactly what you meant by "let's get a hella-slammin' different thing going each time--new power!," but I tried to distinguish this significantly from the "LoveSexy" font we used on the last album. I didn't deal with the "Batman" soundtrack, of course, because, well, that's someone else's deal, and it's fine enough if you like elegant, iconic design.

O.K. So that's the font. Now on to the image. I have listened to the phone message about your wishes regarding the content of the illustration. (I guess technically it's a song rather than a phone call, but you left it on my answering machine, so I'll refer to it as a call, even though it was "written, arranged, composed and produced" by you and features verses, a chorus, and a guitar solo.) So I did the effect where the sky is peeling away to show the wall beneath. I did the thing where the top of Ingrid's hair blurs into the sky. I'm worried about the stubble, though. I am not sure I got it exactly right. I tried. It took me about fifteen hours of airbrush painting. My shoulder was killing me. But does it look like "a newly born faun / or the dew before the dawn" -- You'll have to be the judge of that.

March 2, 2009

a visual representation of my morning commute

the sea of ice.jpg
"The Sea of Ice", Caspar David Friedrich, 1823-1824

I was late to work this morning because my bus driver stopped to help another bus driver who couldn't get up the hill. He managed to get up the hill, but he also managed to impale her bus on a no parking sign, which, last I saw it, was being dragged behind the westbound AT-2 like some poor soul drawn and quartered in the fifteenth century.

February 27, 2009

commentary by david simon, creator of the wire, for the he's just not that into you dvd

DAVID SIMON: I like to tell everybody that the real subject of this film is Baltimore. Its particular set of social problems drive the romantic conflict here. Baltimore is a medium-sized city, as East Coast cities go. It's a stand-in for every place like it, these ports whose economies were just hammered by the collapse of the New Deal. Even so, there's an appealing human scale to the place. To a certain extent, that old-school solidarity still characterizes the social life of the city, if not the culture of local institutions. In Baltimore, everyone is one or two degrees removed from everyone else, more or less. You have these characters' social entanglements interfering with weaker professional or institutional ties--but which tie really is weaker? Are people more committed to their partner or to their institution? And that uncertainty breeds a natural suspicion. It's a culture where people live with a fundamental lack of trust in the goodness of other human beings. So it's not like he's not calling because he isn't into you--it's not about you! It's not about anybody, specifically. You never know who's talking to whom, or what anyone is up to. It's about this idea that the personal needs of an individual are not worth as much of a time investment as they used to be.

[link]

February 16, 2009

i'm always checking my back for cars

42,836 number of people killed in US traffic accidents, 2004
16,137 number of people killed in US by murderers, 2004

February 12, 2009

obnoxious new york times article of the week

Is it:

(a) "Trying to Live on 500K in New York City", in which we read an apparently sincere account of the plight of executives forced to live with such meager compensation.

or

(b) "Wife/Mother/Worker/Spy", in which the bold host/obnoxious columnist (1) dares to invite (well, accidentally invites) both Republicans and Democrats to a dinner party and (2) congratulates herself for the monumental achievement of hosting this gathering of electrical engineers (you see, the dinner party is part of a long tradition and traces its proud heritage to "Greenwich Village bohemians, and salons").

As the appropriate response to (a) is "I hope the Grey Lady ends up living in a rusty Winnebago without windows in Upstate, shivering in her three $35,000 gowns" and the appropriate response to (b) is "Well, that's obnoxious", I'm going to say that (b) wins, as (a) is disqualified on a technicality (it goes far beyond obnoxious).

January 30, 2009

pride and prejudice and zombies

Honestly, just about anything would be better than a Jane Austen novel (except for a novel by a Bronte sister, or that awful book with Owen Meany in it), but this is much, much more promising than merely 'better':

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton--and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers--and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Complete with 20 illustrations in the style of C. E. Brock (the original illustrator of Pride and Prejudice), this insanely funny expanded edition will introduce Jane Austen's classic novel to new legions of fans.

Somehow I doubt that the end result will actually be "insanely funny" -- but the concept is. Also: check out the cover. Classy.

January 23, 2009

masal bugduv

I was going to say that this would replace my Friday McSweeney's, but it won't, because thinking that sent me scurrying over to the rss reader and when I saw that Dan Liebert had a new joke... well... you'll see in a minute.

So the point of this post is, like a typical Friday McSweeney's post, to point out something (a) clever and (b) humorous on the internet, in this case the curious tale of Masal Bugduv, which I have been following for the past week or so (note: the point is to point out). I was pleasantly surprised to read a quality summary of the whole affair on Slate today and even more pleasantly surprised when I realized (when he referred to The Run of Play as 'my blog') that the summary was written by Brian Phillips. I suggest reading the whole story in the original rather than the quotes I am about to pull, but, in case you are too lazy to click that link/suspicious that I am forwarding you to my insidious malware site:

Earlier this month, the Times ran a feature called "Football's Top 50 Rising Stars," which featured at No. 30 a 16-year-old attacker named Masal Bugduv, whom the paper, never one to fear irony, described as "Moldova's finest." A bright future seemed to fill Bugduv's windscreen. The young player had been "strongly linked," the Times said, with a transfer to the London club Arsenal, had already earned a mention on the popular soccer news site Goal.com, spawned excitement in online forums, and been portrayed as something of a savior by the magazine When Saturday Comes, which introduced him as "one bright spot" amid Moldova's nationalist strife.

But as the old scout's adage says, even the most talented young striker will struggle if he has no corporeal being. Blogger Neil McDonnell, who writes about sports under the name Fredorrarci, suspected something might be amiss after picking up a hint from a Russian blog commenter about a "fanny misteak" in the Times feature--the spelling presumably the result of complex transliteration from the Cyrillic for "dude, what?" After a bit of rifling through Wikipedia history pages and an exchange of e-mails with the editor of Soviet Sport magazine, McDonnell discovered that not only was there no such player as Masal Bugduv, Masal Bugduv wasn't even a Moldovan name...

After SoccerLens blogger McDonnell broke the story, Bugduv fans in Ireland noticed that the player's name was a phonetic twin for m'asal beag dubh, which is Irish for "my little black donkey." A second Irish ass pun, sure. But "My Little Black Donkey" is also the name of an Irish-language short story by early 20th-century writer Pádraic Ó Conaire. And the story, about a man tricked into overpaying for a lazy donkey based on some vivid village gossip, can be read anachronistically as a parody of the culture of soccer transfers, in which the flaming rings of hype around a player--about how good he is, where he might go, how much a club might pay for him--often seem to overwhelm the minor matter of what he does on the pitch.

The story becomes doubly fascinating once Phillips gets into contact with someone claiming to have set up the hoax:

Our hoaxer, then, was likely an allegorically inclined Irishman. This theory gained steam when, not long after the hoax was revealed, I got an e-mail via my Bugduv-obsessed blog from someone claiming to be the instigator of Bugduv mania. He said he was a newspaperman in Galway. Some of the fake AP stories had, indeed, been posted under the pseudonym "GalwayGooner," and the e-mailer's IP address did, indeed, match Galway. Now writing under a different pseudonym, he confirmed the prank's "Little Black Donkey" origin and passed along some entertaining anecdotes, including one about hearing Bugduv's name in a pub conversation before the Times piece went to press. He said he dreamed up Bugduv as a "social experiment."

What was strange, though, was that while I worked to confirm his identity--the more brilliant the hoax, the less you trust the person who takes credit for it--my quarry kept sidestepping every request for evidence. He knew the details of the hoax inside out and even sent me a rollicking narrative account of the work he'd done to create it. (You can read the alleged hoaxer's lengthy explanation of the Bugduv-creation process--and whether the fictional footballer is more like Borat or Forrest Gump--in this sidebar.) But whenever I pressed him for more definitive proof, he'd get skittish and threaten to cut off contact. Either this was another hoax--a counterfeit hoaxer trying to become the real thing--or else the actual hoaxer, like all good magicians, preferred to maintain an element of doubt.

The tale of Bugduv can be followed in a good bit more depth on the Run of Play; I particularly recommend this comment, presumably left by our Irish hoaxer.

Oh, and, since its Friday, Dan Liebert:

For years, I worshipped the ground she walked on, until I finally got fed up and told her: "I want a divorce. I'm tired of you walking on my Sacred Lawn."

January 9, 2009

friday = mcsweeneys

Critique of Your Powerpoint Presentation Titled "Sales Forecast, Third Quarter":

Upon receiving your ambiguously titled invitation, "Sales Meeting," I did not expect to witness the birth of a new mixed-media art movement. On the contrary, I suspected that it would be another narcolepsy-inducing event, for what typically passes for a presentation from the people within your division is bland, static, and with little redemptive or motivational value. It was, then, something of a shock to see your PowerPoint piece titled "Sales Forecast, Third Quarter" presented with little fanfare. The subtle downplaying of expectations only heightened the shock and amazement this tour de force eventually triggered in the minds of everyone lucky enough to view the production.

I must first address the obvious and less far-reaching elements of your presentation, which in most other PowerPoint presentations would be considered journeyman work. Yes, you offered a high degree of data with little information, a cavalcade of whats with a complete absence of whys that's typical of the genre, but you also included a devilish smattering of clearly contradictory data sets. Thus, by moving from information to disinformation without any of the traditional markers, you raised the work from mere Dadaism to a new form of surreality.

...


December 30, 2008

limits/no limits

Saw Michael Phelps interviewed by Colbert about his book "No Limits" (currently No. 11 on the non-fiction bestseller list, if I recall something I read somewhere earlier correctly); Colbert tried to get him to admit that it was possible that he had been endowed with physical gifts that made him peculiarly capable of achieving the athletic feats he has, but Phelps refused, saying (I'm paraphrasing) that he believes anyone -- anyone -- could, with sufficient dedication duplicate his feats.

Obviously, he doesn't really believe that. No paraplegic, for instance, could, no matter how hard he believed that he had no limits, swim like Michael Phelps, and I am sure (hopeful?) that Phelps would agree.

But I do think Phelps' adamant insistence that anyone -- anyone -- could, with sufficient dedication, duplicate his feats reveals a simple and important fact about people: we want to believe that our successes (though probably much of the time not our failures) are dependent solely on our own effort, even to the degree that we are willing to believe that our talents, our gifts are merely the accumulation of our efforts, not something that we possessed prior to any effort. This helps us to maintain an illusion of autonomy, which is ultimately destructive, as it is largely false and, like all delusions, leads us to great despair when it is punctured. Which is not to say that our efforts are not important -- stewardship of talents and all that -- but rather that they pale in importance relative to exterior/prior factors in determining our successes.

December 29, 2008

new years writing resolution

Minimize the use of the words:

"just"
"almost"
"nearly"
"somewhat"
"perhaps"

and so on.

I (and others) use them where the words needed to precisely articulate a thought are [insert: almost, nearly, etc.] but not quite available. Overuse makes a paragraph contrived and/or too clinical. I will probably continue to overuse them.

Minimizing my use of words in general might be a good secondary goal.

December 19, 2008

daruma-otoshi skyscraper demolition

From the Times Magazine's Year in Ideas:

"Cut and take down" -- also called daruma-otoshi, after a Japanese game in which a small wooden hammer is used to swat disks out of a stack -- is a modification of a technique the firm previously used to erect a high-rise building. Using computer-controlled hydraulic jacks in place of supports, they'd build the top floor at ground level, then lever it up, build the next, lever that up and so on until the project was finished.

This approach was easily adapted for use as a demolition method. The support pillars of a building's lowermost floor are replaced with a series of jacks until the entire weight of the building rests on them. Next, workers come in, smash the interior, remove the walls and cart the rubble away for recycling. Finally, the building is lowered to the ground, one story shorter than before. And then the process is repeated.

December 17, 2008

if you want fruit, eat fish liver or a puffin

Very well written piece by AA Gill on Iceland and the financial crisis, in the Times Online:

Down by the container port, where the derricks droop idly, is a car pound the size of half a dozen football fields, circled by defunct iron boxes. It's full of hundreds, perhaps thousands of cars. Behind them, across the grey fjord, black pumice crags are scarred with snow. The cars are going nowhere, dumped here at the end of the world: a great, windswept, conceptual monument to the hubris of Mammon, laughed at by black-backed gulls. These testaments to excess are now the most tasteless things to be seen in. They call the puttering Range Rovers "Game-Overs".

...

Outside Reykjavik, there are suburban developments for new commuter suburbs. They put in roads and street lights but the houses have yet to be built, or stand blankly unfinished. Outside, a little girl plays in the gloaming with her sheepdog. It's a strangely surreal image: the silent cul-de-sac, like a model of the middle-American 'burbs, with just this child, a character snatched from an Edward Hopper painting.

December 2, 2008

foreign policy in a box

I've been convinced for a while that the foreign policy debate in the US is unhealthly accepting of the obvious rightness of interventionism. That is, the debate is dominated in the Republican party by conservative interventionists, interested in and convinced of the effectiveness of using military power to spread American values across the globe (which is how both GWB and John McCain presented themselves), and in the Democratic party by liberal interventionists, perhaps a bit less likely to support military endeavours aimed at securing resources and more inclined to support those aimed at advancing humanitarian goals, but nonetheless interventionists (see both Clintons in particular; Obama presented himself as less interested in military endeavours, but, I think, still falls into the liberal interventionist camp). The labels that I've used, though, to understand how to name these camps (liberal interventionist and conservative interventionist) are inadequate, because they name the tendencies of the camps but not the underlying principles that push the camps in those directions.

millmanchart.jpg
The Millman Chart

So I was pleased to discover (via Douthat) the (Noah) Millman (of The American Scene) Chart, which labels these camps in a much more productive fashion, by using Walter Russell Mead's analysis of foreign policy schools. Roughly, liberal interventionists are Hamiltonians and conservative interventionists are Wilsonians. Jacksonians are probably the third best represented corner of the chart -- think foreign policy West-Virginia-style (this is no slam on West Virginia, though I do not endorse Jacksonianism). The Jeffersonians, alas, are massively underrepresented; I suppose Ron Paul would be the closest thing to a national Jeffersonian figure, though Paul was a massively flawed candidate for a number of other reasons. Millman explains this more clearly than I do:

"The horizontal axis runs from introverted to extroverted. By this I mean: is foreign policy driven primarily by domestic or foreign factors? (Or, more plainly, how much does the outside world "matter" very little, or a great deal?) The vertical axis runs from realist to idealist. By "realist" I mean that interests are the dominant factor in determining foreign policy; by "idealist" I mean that values are predominant. And the corners represent the four schools of foreign policy as articulated by Walter Russell Mead.

The Jeffersonian school is introverted idealist: it is primarily concerned to insulate the United States from being sullied by foreign entanglement. It is idealist because it is our republican virtue that we are trying to preserve. If the central neoconservative insight was that a nation's political systems affects its foreign policy (totalitarian systems derive their legitimacy from war, and hence must be aggressive), the central, and much older, Jeffersonian insight is that a nation's foreign policy affects its political system (a republic will lose its republican character if it shoulders the burdens of an empire). Daniel Larison is our resident Jeffersonian, I believe.

The Jacksonian school is introverted realist, by contrast (although this school is not associated with Kissingerian "realism" in foreign policy), because it is primarily concerned with interests (counting honor as a kind of interest, something you keep in an account that can be depleted or replenished), and not especially concerned with having relations with foreigners.

The Hamiltonian school is similarly realist, but extroverted; it is also focused on interests, but understands these interests (being predominantly commercial) to be intertwined with those of other players in the international system.

And the Wilsonian school is similarly extroverted, but idealist; like the Hamiltonian, it is also intensely interested in what happens in far-off lands, but not because of a perception of how our interests are bound up with such doings, rather because, for a Wilsonian, America is betraying its values if it does not act to defend and promote those values abroad."

If I were forced to categorize myself, I think I would be some sort of blend of Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian impulses (apparently contradictorary, I know), though that is not a particularly important exercise since I have little to no influence on foreign policy.

More:
::I ran into the chart through a series of posts by Douthat, Poulos, and Larison. They are worth reading if you find the chart a bit simplistic (which it is, though, I think, being simplistic has virtues as well as deficiencies) and want to argue with it.
::Not unrelated to the unhealthy acceptance of interventionism is our bipartisan consensus on exceptionalism.

November 25, 2008

an atlas of my childhood, limited to south carolina

825 lakeside circle
atlas_1.jpg

Please note abandoned playground located in woods across from house.

wal-mart
atlas_2.pg

Where the people went on saturday night. When the wal-mart came, it put the Roses out of business. When I was in Delaware a few months ago, I drove past a strip of stripmalls that more or less duplicated the pre-wal-mart retail ecology[1] of lancaster, right down to a still-open Roses'. The emptiness of the parking lot in the satellite photo suggests to me that the old wal-mart building was abandoned when the super wal-mart opened (on the other side of Bypass 9) and has yet to find a tenant.

church
atlas_3.jpg

Note gas station at corner, which I imagined to be a den of iniquity because Justin Lutz's father owned it and he made his money by placing video poker machines in his gas stations. The trailers are gone from the church; I am not sure what this means.

the race track, which was next to the county dump.
atlas_4.jpg

You could hear this at night in the summer while lying in bed. The sounds, smells, and light textures (not images, but conditions of light) -- the cacophany of cicadas on a hot summer night, the smell of cut grass (I was well-acquainted with our lawnmower and, like most people in Lancaster, we had a sizeable lawn), the whoosh of an attic fan and a certain temperature of air being pulled through the house -- are at least as vital to 'childhood' as particular places or events. Any of these (and a number of other sensations) can easily trigger a nostalgia for a place that I have only returned to once and may never return to again.

bowater, the paper plant
atlas_5.jpg

Smelled (and presumably still smells) awful.

andrew jackson state park
atlas_6.jpg

I have been informed that I may have knocked a few other, smaller kids over and/or pushed them out of the way in the hunt for easter eggs. I do not remember this.

jaars
atlas_7.jpg

This is where I rode in a plane for the first time. It is also where my friend Mark (who is still a treasured friend, even if we do not see each other nearly so often anymore) lived. jaars stands for "jungle aviation and radio service".

lancaster high school
atlas_8.jpg

We left Lancaster in my sophmore year of high school, but not before I had the opportunity to learn what sort of educational opportunities a state whose public educational system is perenially ranked in the bottom five in the nation offered.

lancaster county library
atlas_9.jpg

The checkout limit is ten items per person. I remember this number because I strained against this artificial limit for many years; if I read all ten books before our next weekly trip, I was in a very unfortunate situation.

the farmer's market
atlas_10.jpg

One of the advantages of a small town is a good farmer's market, because the farms are close.

landsford canal state park
atlas_11.jpg

This image makes the Catawba seem much more attractive than it actually is.

grace finishing plant
atlas_12.jpg

One of the Springs (a textile manufacturer) plants. It seems that all of them (in Lancaster) have closed now, with the Grace Finishing Plant being the last to go. Pretty much everyone's diddy worked for Springs, Duracell, or Bowater. Maybe not so much now.

[1] While on one of our field trips for Field Ecology, a friend and I realized that strip malls might be described in a manner similar to plant communities: that is, there are various sets of stores that typically occur in combination with one another (in ecology, these sets are referred to as 'associations'), and they are replaced by other stores in a manner similar to ecological succession. So a Wal-Mart association might be succeeded by a Best Buy-Barnes and Noble association if the surrounding area's income level rises, or perhaps a Family Dollar-Food Lion association if the area stagnates.

November 21, 2008

slavoj zizek welcomes you to the gym

I have mentioned before that I believe we would all be fitter happier more productive if we dedicated a slice of each week to spending time with McSweeney's. Today I suggest reading "NOTED POST-MARXIST SOCIOLOGIST, PHILOSOPHER, AND CULTURAL CRITIC SLAVOJ ZIZEK WELCOMES YOU TO THE GYM":

In 1981, singer, actress Olivia Newton-John is performing in a musical video for her song "Physical." Olivia Newton-John is in the gym, not sweating, wearing headband and leotard, doing aerobics. Why is she not sweating? To answer this question, we need to reverse it and ask: Why are we not wearing a headband and leotard? And why are we sweating?

Then, I think, the meaning is clear. We are sitting in front of the TV, being couch potato, watching the illusion of nudity--which is the leotard--and the symbolism of discipline: the headband. She is doing all the work for us. She is getting physical.

With that in our minds, today we are going to do an upper-body workout with weights and the machines. OK!

First up is "bench press." This is for the pectoral muscles, the biceps, and whatever. You, the workout person, lie on the bench, and you raise your arms upward, raising a heavy bar to an unseen god, dictator, or whatever. It is like you are offering something to someone above you.

However, it would be a mistake to see it only this way, I think...

Finish it.

November 19, 2008

November 18, 2008

the hagiography of the affluencer

I almost said something when I read this article "The Affluencer" in the Times Magazine last week, but thought better of it, as it seems sisyphean to go around complaining every time you find something vapid on the internet. But a couple of letter writers seemed to have similar complaints, so I will indulge myself and quote their letters:

I never fully understood the "putting lipstick on a pig" phrase before reading Lauren Zalaznick's attempt to place reality television tripe like "Real Housewives" on the same artistic plane as the incredible work done at Killer Films (Susan Dominus, Nov. 2). I'm not judging Zalaznick for selling out, but don't deny the choices you make. It's still a sale if your artistic merit is bought and paid for by a desirable demographic.

SAM HUTCHINS
New York

"The Affluencer" was gutsy and made me squirm. I especially liked the quote from Zalaznick about the chef contestant with seafood allergies. She thought it would be "funny" to make him cook with shellfish. That summed up her values in one line -- anything for entertainment! Maybe she was hoping the chef would have an anaphylactic reaction on film and die right there! That would boost ratings. Amazing woman.

NISA LEVY
Denver

More:
::Previously noteworthy letters to the editor here (that one is really quite humorous) and here.

November 14, 2008

[welcome things magazine readers]

A few recent things that may be of interest if you were reading things:

a. the erie canal as a superhighway [an underdeveloped post on the comparative impact of canals and freeways]
b. a series of thoughts on big boxes: big box flip-a-strip and darwinian retail, big box urbanism [a guest post by stephen becker], and big box coda
c. just like honey [two approaches to compressed space in contemporary tokyo]
d. one grows rich in a year but dies in six months [on alan berger, the pontine marshes, and remediation]
e. billboards vs. trees
f. the minor landscape of glouster, ohio [on political geographies]
g. corridors of the unbuilt imagination [on drawing, representation, and landscape architecture sparked by a post by lebbeus woods; also contains incomplete thoughts]

I apologize for the brokenness (i.e. ugly formatting) of the archive pages; haven't had a chance (ok, the desire) to fix them since I restructured the blog a couple months ago. This also means that the older archives have a tendency to do shady things (like not give you a link to get back to the home page).

I might also suggest my rss feed, in xml or rdf.

April 4, 2008

It is truly disturbing that this man is the owner of a major news network

Clifford brings up an important point. If the salamanders don't get us, we'll eat each other in thirty to forty years.

March 28, 2008

War with the newts

"The idea of the cyborgisation of mankind as presented by bourgeois futurologists is anti-human, being a reflection of the anti-human essence of capitalism which regards man as an object of exploitation and a source of superprofits, which of course reduces man to the status of a living machine. This idea is based on an insiduous illusion that mankind's social problems can be solved by technological means."

V. Kosolapov, Mankind and the Year 2000

I, for one, will be joining the Virginia Institute for the Cyborgisation of Mankind as soon as humanly possible. Unfortunately, I fear that Institute may not be instituted quite as soon as Kosolapov feared. Note, for instance, the following excerpt from his chart "Forecasts of Future Trends in Space Exploration up to the Year 2030":

"1995. Samples of substances beyond the solar system. Automatic probes land on all planets of the solar system. Use of ballistic missiles as a means of public transport.

2005. Compilation of detailed maps of all the planets of the solar system. Man lands on Jupiter's satellite. [which one? I've always preferred Saturn's satellites, so I'm pretty disappointed as it is. If its not Io, I'm boycotting the remainder of Kosolapov's predictions.] Equipment for probing interstellar space.

2010. Fly-by of Pluto. Controlled gravitation. Landing on Jupiter. A laser station on the Moon to transmit energy to spacecraft. Theory on the origin of the proto-planetary cloud and the solar system."

March 10, 2008

i promised myself i would stop talking about politics but

this is a very important message which I believe we should all take note of.

[And speaking of important messages, don't miss Reihan Salam's capsule review of the Democratic, uh, fight]

March 6, 2008

A world made by hand

Reihan Salam's review of James Howard Kunstler's new book, A World Made by Hand, is, um, brilliant:

"James Howard Kunstler is very much a man of his time a crankish autodidact with a deep and abiding distaste for all things newfangled, who also happens to be a blogger, and a very entertaining one at that. If you've ever felt plagued by the profound stupidity of others, you'll find a kindred spirit in Mr. Kunstler, who is one of the most gifted "haters" you'll ever have the good fortune to read. Mr. Kunstler's ur-subject is what he considers the essential despicableness of a civilization built on the promise of abundant cheap energy, and the soullessness and vulgarity of the chintzy pseudo-affluence that comes with it. You get the sense Mr. Kunstler would feel this way regardless of the long-term viability of an oil-driven economy, but conveniently enough he at some point fell under the sway of a cultish fringe of the Peak Oil movement, a group that claims the world's oil is running out fast and that, as a result, the modern world is going to come crashing down around our heads."

And that's just the first paragraph. Maybe the best part, though, is that Mr. Kunstler appears to have responded in the comments section:

"That's the meanest positive review I've ever gotten. Thank you very much and go give yourself a hot beef injection, Mr. Salem Jim Kunstler Saratoga Springs NY"

If that's not Mr. Kunstler, its a reasonable approximation. I'm not sure I want to know what a "hot beef injection" is. [If you've never read through Kunstler's "Eyesores of the Month", you might enjoy doing so. Kunstler takes aims at America like Dick Cheney, and hits just about everything in sight.]

March 1, 2008

forbidden fruits and vegetables

times-farming.jpg
[illustration via nytimes]

Interesting op-ed from the New York Times today; a Minnesota farmer explains how Federal farm aid makes it more difficult for him to grow, well, food:

"The commodity farm program effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops (soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from trying fruit and vegetables. Because my watermelons and tomatoes had been planted on corn base acres, the Farm Service said, my landlords were out of compliance with the commodity program.

Ive discovered that typically, a farmer who grows the forbidden fruits and vegetables on corn acreage not only has to give up his subsidy for the year on that acreage, he is also penalized the market value of the illicit crop, and runs the risk that those acres will be permanently ineligible for any subsidies in the future. (The penalties apply only to fruits and vegetables if the farmer decides to grow another commodity crop, or even nothing at all, theres no problem.)"

He pins the blame for this on the influence corporate farmers have on the representatives from large farming states (Florida, California, etc.). Whether that's accurate or not, I can't say, but it certainly seems plausible. Reminds me of the rather hilariously titled "Everything I Want to Do is Illegal", by farmer/writer Joel Salatin (a (much) shorter version of which is available in PDF here):

"I want to dress my beef and pork on the farm where Ive coddled and raised it. But zoning laws prohibit slaughterhouses on agricultural land. For crying out loud, what makes more holistic sense than to put abattoirs where the animals are? But no, in the wisdom of Western disconnected thinking, abattoirs are massive centralized facilities visited daily by a steady stream of tractor trailers and illegal alien workers.

But what about dressing a couple of animals a year in the backyard? How can that be compared to a ConAgra or Tyson facility? In the eyes of the government, the two are one and the same. Every T-bone steak has to be wrapped in a half-million dollar facility so that it can be sold to your neighbor. The fact that I can do it on my own farm more cleanly, more responsibly, more humanely, more efficiently, and in a more environmentally friendly manner doesnt matter to the government agents who walk around with big badges on their jackets and wheelbarrow-sized regulations tucked under their arms."

[Incidentally, the illustration from the Times is by a fellow named Jacob Magraw-Mickelson, who makes some very nice drawings, paintings, and prints, as you can see here.]

February 20, 2008

giant sea spiders and cuttlefish

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

- Gerald Manley Hopkins, Inversnaid

"Australian experts taking part in an international program to take a census of marine life in the ocean at the far south of the world filmed and captured specimens from up to 1,981 meters (6,500 feet) beneath the surface, and said many may never have been seen before.

"Some of the video footage we have collected is really stunning -- it's amazing to be able to navigate undersea mountains and valleys and actually see what the animals look like in their undisturbed state," Australian scientist Martin Riddle, voyage leader on the research ship Aurora Australis, said.

Among the bizarre-looking creatures the scientists spotted were tunicates, plankton-eating animals that resemble slender glass structures up to a yard tall "standing in fields like poppies," Riddle said.

"Gigantism is very common in Antarctic waters -- we have collected huge worms, giant crustaceans and sea spiders the size of dinner plates," Riddle added. "

seaspider.jpg
giant sea spiders here (video here)

Meanwhile, off the coast of Australia, scientists study camouflaging cuttlefish:

To use disruptive patterning, cuttlefish need to make sure that their color blocks are on the same scale as the objects around them. Dr. Hanlon has yet to figure out how they measure that.

Theyre doing it in some magical way we dont yet understand, he said.

Dr. Hanlon and his colleagues are also puzzled by the many camouflage colors of the cuttlefish, which have a single type of pigment in their eyes. Humans have three.

Experiments in Dr. Hanlons lab have shown that they are color blind. They see a world without color, but their skin changes rapidly to any hue in the rainbow. How is that possible?

Thats a vexing question, he said. We dont know how it works.

February 13, 2008

titan descent diagram

those who find the practice of diagramming invigorating will likely be interested in nasa's titan descent data movie (with bells and whistles, as nasa helpfully notes).

cassini_diagram.jpg

what makes this diagram so interesting is that its not merely an exercise in tracking geometric data through visual cues and literally transmitted datapoints, but it also assigns audible translations:

Sounds from a left speaker trace Huygens' motion, with tones changing with rotational speed and the tilt of the parachute. There also are clicks that clock the rotational counter, as well as sounds for the probe's heat shield hitting Titan's atmosphere, parachute deployments, heat shield release, jettison of the camera cover and touchdown.

Sounds from a right speaker go with the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer activity. There's a continuous tone that represents the strength of Huygens' signal to Cassini. Then there are 13 different chimes - one for each of instrument's 13 different science parts - that keep time with flashing-white-dot exposure counters. During its descent, the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer took 3,500 exposures.

perhaps tufte's next book will be entitled "the auditory transmission of quantitative data"?

February 1, 2008

by that point, about forty percent of americans would have lived their entire lives under a president from one of these two families

Ah, democracy inaction.

1When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations." 6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us."

10So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."

19But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, "No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles." 21And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD. 22And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey their voice and make them a king." Samuel then said to the men of Israel, "Go every man to his city."

http://bushclintonforever.googlepages.com/

i promise to stop talking about politics now.

January 28, 2008

i got the shotgun; you got the briefcase

the wire is every bit as good as obama told you it was. and speaking of obama, if you haven't heard his south carolina acceptance speech, get over to youtube right now -- its worth every minute of the seventeen it will take to watch it.

January 11, 2008

in case you need confirmation of ryan's suspicions

cbs news presents this report on courting the "hipster" vote.

i don't see a single pbr in that video.

[via the american scene; here's ryan]

April 26, 2007

Alternate Titles to Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope

if it had been written by President Bush... from McSweeney's. (My favorite? The Insolence of Public Sentiment)

February 13, 2007

Today's Weather

snowpocalypse.jpg

batten down the hatches kids... we might have as much as half an inch and it might even stick (but probably not).

January 2, 2007

October 24, 2006

Right Wingers, Fundamentalists, and other items from the day of current taste

David Brooks hammers Andrew Sullivan's new book here. Sullivan responds here.

The basic thesis of Sullivan's new book is apparently (I have not read it) that religious fundamentalists have hijacked the Republican party, pulling it away from its conservative roots. I suppose that's more rational than Rush, but I find it a bit far-fetched as an attempt to describe what might be problematic about contemporary conservatism (especially when considered in light of recent revelations about the way that the religious right's agenda has apparently been treated behind the scenes in the Bush White House). For more enlightened commentary, I refer you to The American Scene:

"The religious-conservative agenda, insofar as it's been put into practice by Bush, involves increased spending on AIDS in Africa and faith-based initiatives at home, an emphasis on abstinence in federally-funded sex education, and those "conservative judges" and gay marriage ballot initiatives. And all of these projects, love them or hate them, have very little to do with 1) the Iraq War or 2) the perception, fed by everything from the botched Social Security reform to Bush's disinterest in global warming, that the GOP is in the pocket of the rich and big business, which (along with the hangover from Hurricane Katrina) are the biggest albatrosses circling the party these days."

(I, by the way, consider myself not a party in this argument, as I am loathe to identify myself with either the Republicans or the Democrats. Two sides of the same Enlightenment coin, if you ask me.)

October 16, 2006

More on TV and Autism

A while back I linked to speculation on slate that tv watching in young children might be related to the rise in autism... well now there's some evidence. The evidence is correlative, not causitive, but its definitely stronger than just speculation. Of course, the AAP has already been recommending that children under 2 not watch any television at all anyways, so its not like proof would result in a massive change in what parents are being advised to do anyways. It might, however, scare some parents into actually following that advice, I suppose.

September 27, 2006

September 19, 2006

September 8, 2006

You Killed My Father? You Have My Elephants?

2006's kung-fu is very strong.

1. Ong-bak was released in America in 2005 (2005 was a warm up for 2006). Muy muay thai.
2. District B13 was released early in 2006. Very strong kung-fu, especially for Frenchmen.
3. Tom yum goong (The Protector) released in English in 2006. Its kung-fu was very, very strong last night. Nathan Jones is insanely large. Especially compared to Tony Jaa. I need not tell you, though, that Tony Jaa's kung-fu is much, much stronger.
4. Huo Yuan Jia (Fearless) will demonstrate its massively strong kung-fu on September 22. This will be the last time Jet Li's kung-fu is displayed.

Amazing. (Each one links to trailer on youtube, whose kung-fu is adequate; if you're unconvinced about District B13 try this). Tony Jaa's kung-fu is especially strong because he does all his muay thai without nets, wires, or computer graphics.

September 6, 2006

Television: It May Be Bad For You

Actually, I'm pretty sure its bad for you (right up there with nursing homes and cars). As a child, I was permitted to watch only one thirty-minute program a day, which in my experience most people consider a draconian limit if it comes up in conversation, but I have to say that now it seems like a bit much. Who has time for thirty minutes of television a day? Think of all the things you are missing. I doubt I could convey adequately in this paragraph the depth of my occasional revulsion towards the television. I should note that I call it occasional, because its not as if I never watch; after all, some television is actually pretty decent story telling. In fact, the Simpsons really cracked me up last night when Homer said "who made you Judge Judy and executioner?" Wow what a pun. I mean you can't make that stuff up. I am pretty sure that the writer had to have heard someone who actually thought that the phrase is really supposed to be Judge Judy and executioner, because there's no way you could just make up a pun that good.

So anyways, now that you know I have that bias, you'll know why I instantly agree with this article on Slate about autism and television. Of course I think Gregg's right; he confirms my bias:

"Of the new research suggesting that defects in brain organization track with autism, Science concluded, "If a neuronal imbalance is to blame, no one knows how it arises." No one does. But the rise in autism disorders during the very period that early-childhood screen-watching has risen is disturbing. Eyes glued to a colorful tube is an intense form of "exposure" for any young child. Correlation does not prove causation, but there's an awful lot of correlation here.

Of course, most children who sit mesmerized by television suffer no harm, other than limited vocabulary and an uncontrollable desire for the latest breakfast cereal. Television viewing may even have benefits. But perhaps while TV is a wash or a good thing for the majority, a small minority of young children are seriously harmed."

August 4, 2006

July 17, 2006

Militant Pedestrian

I always promise Jess that one of these days I'm going to get a little bag (a manpurse, if you will) and fill it with small rocks, David-style; I will use this bag of rocks to stone the windshield of any car which refuses to obey the law of the road and yield to pedestrians (if this Leviticus-style punishment bothers you, the driver of cars, well, perhaps you shouldn't have parked your mammoth SUV in the crosswalk).

Well it looks like I'm not the only one filled with inordinate amounts of rage as a pedestrian. DCist has some suggestions for new traffic laws that should help soothe the pedestrian-driver conflict. I particularly like The Militant Pedestrian's Rule #3:

"3. If you are pulling out of a parking garage and you block the sidewalk so that a pedestrian must either wait for you or be forced into oncoming traffic, you will be sentenced to do community service by leading a family of Midwestern tourists on a Segway Tour of the monuments in the middle of the day during the July heat wave."

That is just incredibly annoying. Worthy of at least two rocks.

July 5, 2006

June 9, 2006

Dave Eggers on America and the World Cup

Slate has a humorous article from Dave Eggers on the topic of the moment, soccer. (He's the author of the supposedly ironically titled "Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius", which I suspect of not actually being ironically titled, despite the fact that the only thing staggering about it is that it manages to not end for about three hundred pages after the couple of ideas Dave had are completely played out.) Anyways, the article is an excerpt from The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, an anthology that came out sometime recently. Excerpt:

"American sports are, for better or worse, built upon transparency, or the appearance of transparency, and on the grind-it-out work ethic. This is why the most popular soccer player in American history is Sylvester Stallone."

June 8, 2006

Secret Italian Training Video

You've probably already seen this, but just in case you haven't:

June 6, 2006

Vamos United esta noche tenemos que ganar

dcunited1.jpg

What's better than a bicycle? Soccer. Soccer is definitely better than a bicycle. I think I'm getting nervous about the World Cup. The only sporting event in the world that makes me nervous is a Nats game (look, we were calling them Nats long before the other Nats came around), and its looking like its going to be a tough first round for the US -- first the Czechs, then Italy, and finally Ghana. Both the Czechs and Italy should beat us on paper, but, as Sepp Herberger said "The game is ninety minutes" and "the ball is round".

In preparation for the weeks I will spend camped in front of televisions in various locations, Jess and I went to a pair of DC United games this past week. United is great. The best team in MLS (when we're on, we beat you 5-1; when we're off, we beat you 1-0; we get the three points either way) has the best fans, which makes for the best atmosphere in MLS. RFK stadium is noisy with 11,000 (unlike during the baseball game I went to there, which reminded me of a masoleum) and really loud with 22,000. Yeah, its not Anfield or Old Trafford, but if you want a loud soccer crowd in the US, there are really only a couple places to go, so I'll take what I can get.

I think the reason I like soccer so much is because it is an "underdog" sport in the US (though obviously not so much in the rest of the world). Its one of the few sports in which the US has a national team that really isn't a top team (don't believe the "#5" hype), yet we still have a team that we can be proud of. I actually think this article from the Guardian ("Get ready to dislike America" -- as if that would take a lot of effort for most Guardian readers) does a great job of explaining what's so great about US soccer.

June 5, 2006

Bicycle Part Two

After a fun-filled day of playing with the bicycle, I have learned that:
1. A 17-inch frame is just too small for my long, lean legs
2. Don't trust the PSI gauge on your pump, because
3. If you overfill an innertube, it can explode. This will produce a loud sound and will startle anyone who happens to be on the sidewalk near your bike. A good way to tell that the tire is overfilled is to look up from the PSI gauge every now and then while filling the tire; if the tire has a lump on it that makes it look like a constrictor that's just swallowed a good-sized pet, then it is probably overfilled. The upshot of all this is that I learned that the rest of the tire will probably not explode in this situation, which makes it a considerably safer situation.
4. The derailers on this bike are really, really messed up.
5. The brakes on this bike need adjustment.
On the positive side, I did manage to ride it up past National and back, so it could be worse. I think it may have to spend some time in the bike shop before I really trust it, though; I wish I was confident in my ability to adjust the derailers and the brakes, but I'm not. This is unfortunate, because I really don't want to spend money on a bike that is too small.

New bicycle

As some may know, I had my bike stolen from me while I was at school earlier this spring, which was quite traumatic for me because I had only ridden that shiny thing three or four times. My search for a (cheap) replacement has been going on since then, including a trip to some random guy's house (found via craigslist) to pick up a bike he was going to throw out (which after some cleaning, I can see why he was going to throw out). I still haven't ridden that one, because the rear wheel is so ridiculously beat up that it can't possibly be ridden (I don't know if truing will save it or not, since I haven't taken it to the bike shop yet).

The good news is that I then found out that an old Blackwatch RA (who now goes to my father's church) had a bike he was going to get rid of. The folks picked it up, I drove down to Georgia for an unrelated reason, and here I am with this new bike. It looked alright. Solid, but quite light (aluminum?). Seems to be rideable as-is (which I will test today). The really pleasant surprise, though, is that in looking up the bike on the internet it turns out that its actually a quite decent entry level bike, actually a bit more expensive than the one I had stolen. I had assumed that, because I'd never heard of the company (Parkpre), that it must be a Wal-Mart-esque bike (since it clearly wasn't a ridiculously nice bike from an exotic company), but it turns it that its just a bike from a good manufacturer that has stopped manufacturing bikes (well, they still build frames, but that's it in the US -- I think you can still get them overseas). That's my happy story for the day.

My "new" Parkpre Sport Limited (I think its 2001 because that's the only year I can find Sport Limiteds from, but it could be that its a different year; I would have guessed its age at closer to 8-9 years):

June 2, 2006

May 9, 2006

Saving the Children

IMG_1150_23_1.JPG
Me saving the children by painting their walls a color that I think was blended to simulate the effects of looking directly at the sun

May 4, 2006

Oh Ryan. You Depress Me.

Reading for today...

One, a Washington Post article on Pitchfork(media.com) which makes entertaining reading, especially the Travistan Travesty. I didn't know that People Magazine had named Ryan Schreiber one of the twenty five most powerful people in the music industry. That's scary. Teaser quote:

"The disc ended as the sun was rising over Syria. Had it lasted that long? My comrades and I looked at each other, stupefied. Our only memory was of forced effects, laughable lyrics, and audio surgical scars. I sat up and began packing my duffel. I'd rather pick bananas. One comrade suggested smuggling the disc out of the kibbutz to leak to the Internet. If Metallica were such proud artists behind their music, unable to both allow downloading and refund money after purchase, then we should warn others. Metallica had become less a band leading a genre than a team soaking up payroll in a second-tier sport. This was NASCAR, WWE. Logos, sneers, mustaches, and beards. Hair grows back, but the Jheri Curl of insincerity, of contradiction, and of compromising a cause never straightens."
- Brent DiCrescenzo (one of the original writers, who left Pitchfork's permanent staff a little while ago, if I recall correctly), reviewing Metallica's St. Anger

Two, from Political Spaghetti, some follow up on the last post's oil talk. A more general post here and something on Nigeria specifically here.

April 24, 2006

Attention Computer geniuses and or star nfl quarterbacks

So the laptop is frazzled and I'm looking at purchasing a new computer. This computer will exist mainly to run three programs: AutoCAD, Photoshop, and SketchUp (although it will probably also connect to the internet; SketchUp is a 3d design program used for architecture etc). I am open to suggestions from all you dual career computer graphics geniuses and star NFL quarterbacks out there (those of you who were not raised properly will probably not get that reference, but I suggest looking up a copy of the Blunder Years). Actually I'm open to suggestions from anyone, qualified or not. Unfortunately, I cannot look at Mac's, because AutoDesk has not seen fit to publish a Mac version of AutoCAD (unless I'm totally inept at navigating their website and have missed something, which is conceivable).

Perhaps if the level of tension is palpable I will notify the internet of my successes or failures once the choice is made.

March 24, 2006

Kerlon the Seal Dribbler

I know I said I would report on the impact of the Silver Joos, but I've been lazy. However, I will bring you more unimportant entertainment: Kerlon and His Amazing Seal Dribble. Kerlon is one of the latest amazing Brazilian futbolistas; he did a decent job at the recent U-17 world championships (yes he can score goals). However, he is probably better known for his patented seal dribble, which consists of flicking the ball up onto his head and then bouncing it with his forehead as he runs through the defense. Watch it here.

March 21, 2006

Seven million hydrogen powered doctors and the western wall of the Pentagon

Well kids, sorry to abandon you so long but first there was final projects to wrap up and then there was the call of the big apple, which I could not ignore because of the promise of seeing mr. david berman and his silver joos on their very first tour. I will report back on this matter, perhaps tomorrow. In the meantime, I suggest you entertain yourself by watching this remix of the State of the Union address ("Tonight I have a message for the people of Iraq..."). What can't these kids do with technology?

In other important news the subtitle has changed from "while sitting on the front porch" (which completes the eating bark line) to "i believe the stars are the headlights of angels driving down to save us", which is unrelated but possibly better.

March 8, 2006

Washington DC: Where Your Job is Your Credit

One of the joys of living in Alexandria is that you're really, really close to the greatest car dealership in the lower forty-eight: Easterns Motors. What's so great about Easterns, you ask? I would tell you myself. But really, you should watch this video:

and let LaVar Arrington, Carmelo Anthony, Clinton Portis and friends tell you. (While that's my favorite Easterns commercial, you can watch a number of others here). Its rumored that people actually call WPGC (the 'urban' radio station in DC) to request the Easterns Motors song, as if it were a hot new song. Its so popular that a local DJ remixed the song for one of his EPs... and when they heard about it, Eastern Motors put the song on their website and sponsored a party at a local club that featured both the DJ and an appearance by the company president.

February 24, 2006

Chicago = Tall

tall chicago.jpg
Spent the past week in Chicago, where it was very cold. My primary impression, though, was of tall. Those who have not been to DC may not be aware of this, but there is a height restriction imposed on all the buildings of somewhere between eight and ten stories (roughly), so that none of them are anywhere as near as tall as the Washington Monument. Across the Potomac in Alexandria and Arlington there are small skyscrapers, but nothing like what you would expect in a major city center (these compare in scale more to suburban "node" sized skyscrapers). So its quite a change to go to Chicago, which is known more or less as the birthplace of the American skyscraper, what with Louis Sullivan and all. Although this picture was of a random (but very tall) skyscraper right next to our hotel, the buildings that impressed me most were, in order: (1) the Marina City towers (i.e. the Wilco towers), (2) the El train stations downtown (especially Randolph and Wabash), and (3) The Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building (which I consider a pair because they share the Gothic Revival style and sit on opposite sides of Michigan Ave just across the Chicago River from downtown, all sentry-like).



February 10, 2006

Cartoon thing? What cartoon thing?

Kinsley gets to the bottom of the whole cartoon thing over at Slate:

The other problem with his little joke about double standards, and with the whole supposedly mordant comparison between denying the Holocaust and portraying the prophet, is that the offended Muslims do not want a world where people are free to do both. They don't even want a world where people are not free to do either, which would at least be consistent. They want a world where you may not portray the Prophet Mohammed (even flatteringly, slaying infidels or whatnot) but you may deny the Holocaust all day long.

February 6, 2006

Life Imitates the Onion

If I had more time I'd make this a common feature, but since I was tipped off to this on Slate, I'll at least take the time to point out how life is, as it is prone to doing, imitating the Onion (warning: the Onion, as ever, features, umm, foul language).

December 31, 2005

Midatlantic and Southeastern States Plus Ohio Ranked

1. Maryland
2. Virginia
3. Pennsylvania
4. West Virginia
5. Tennessee
6. North Carolina
7. Kentucky
8. South Carolina
9. Georgia
10. Delaware
11. Alabama
12. Ohio
13. Florida
14. Mississippi