best when viewed in low light


King, k-king, king

Oh, hello there.

When I was little, my brother was my favorite person on the entire planet, and I treated him like he was my own beloved child. [Not much has changed except that he's now a lot taller than me and he's more likely to win arguments.] My best friend Mara and I would carry him around on our crossed arms, and we would sing a little ditty that went "king, k-king, king" to no particular tune whatsoever.

That's completely beside the point, except sometimes I want to make my indirect references more clear.

Thanks to Levi, I watched the first two episodes of "Kings" on hulu, and I gotta say I am pretty fucking impressed. The cast is killer, the star is really cute, the premise is classic fairy tale, and the potential for parody and general hilarity ever-present.



Conservatism is dead, long live conservatism

I'm a Republican.

But before you, oh precious reader, jump to conclusions about what that means, I'd like to clarify a thing or two.

1. Republican and conservative are not synonymous, despite what the RNC might like to promote.

2. True Republicans are embarrassed by the big-spending, big-government federalism practiced by every Republican administration since Reagan.

3. Moral/social legislation is NOT the foundation of solid Republican values, and should be left to those best qualified to make such judgments - the individuals who are affected (this, in keeping with the foundational values of the party).

4. Radical Christianity is a minor, albeit vocal, segment of the Republican party from which the party's policies MUST be wrested in order to proceed into the current century.

5. He might be Black, but Michael Steele is still clueless when it comes to the future.

Happiness factories

As with all things McGonigal, I'm not really sure what to make of this.

I agree that games can change life, but serious games? Isn't that oxymoronic?

And anyway, what ever happened to the validity of play for its own sake? Being able to play without acting out some designer's agenda, or learning something, or trying to achieve something big...isn't THAT what games are for?!


Mechanical education

I've been ranting about the industrialization of education for a while now, but I have never seen it documented in such unapologetic clarity:

"Until roughly the middle of the last century, the American college was mainly a school for training clergymen, lawyers and gentlemen...The men who set the tone in these colleges were considered, and considered themselves, an intellectual elite. The training was often narrow, and it was circumscribed by often rigid standards of gentility. This narrowness led to estrangement from the social and economic realities of the country at large.
After the Civil War, when industrialization began to make major strides in America, a new type of university emerged. Instruction and research in scientific and technological subjects were required by growing industry, and they began to achieve ascendancy over the traditional academic disciplines. 'So,' to quote Veblen [I fucking LOVE Veblen], 'the university of that era unavoidably came to be organized as a more or less comprehensive federation of professional schools or faculties devoted to such branches of practical knowledge as the ruling utilitarian interests of the time demanded.'"

From "The Men of Ideas", by Lewis A. Coser

Eat it

I just received a terrified email forward from alert reader Chloe Satterlee regarding the potential outrages precipitated by the imminent passage of HR 875, the "Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009".

After an admittedly superficial review of the actual legislation, I can find no language outlawing organic farming - as was proposed by the overly sensational email.

Now, it is true that companies like Monsanto engage in devious and manipulative business practices, use their extensive lobbying funds to press their agribusiness advantage over any possible competition, and are biologically modifying plants into the equivalent of genetic terrorist cells, BUT they can't control EVERYTHING.

The problem facing organic food production is not this bill per se, but the potential influence of Monsanto and others to interpret the meaning of the legislation in such a way that organic farming CAN NOT be legal under the law. And then that extremely vocal and invested community can lobby for an amendment.

If this very caring community wants to really change the game, I suggest they use this bill as the vehicle for OUTLAWING unsafe use of chemicals and genetically modified foods....

Some cogent thoughts from alert reader Silas Everett:

The one size fits all approach makes the bill look dodgy, especially given the complexity of food production and already existing agencies with mandates similar enough to the one proposed. Is this the work of Henchmen of the Homeland Security of Food Safety or just the work of a few frustrated bureaucrats?

But how common are illnesses from foodborne diseases in the U.S. and where do they come from?

According to the Center of Disease Control’s website:

To better quantify the impact of foodborne diseases on health in the United States, we compiled and analyzed information from multiple surveillance systems and other sources. We estimate that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. Known pathogens account for an estimated 14 million illnesses, 60,000 hospitalizations, and 1,800 deaths. Three pathogens, Salmonella, Listeria, and Toxoplasma, are responsible for 1,500 deaths each year, more than 75% of those caused by known pathogens, while unknown agents account for the remaining 62 million illnesses, 265,000 hospitalizations, and 3,200 deaths. Overall, foodborne diseases appear to cause more illnesses but fewer deaths than previously estimated

How many of these diseases are known to come from organic food production? From food handlers versus growers? Big growers versus small growers? Local or foreign? Etc. A quick web search in a CRS report from 2005 read…

Safety of Fresh Produce. The Florida State officials asked FDA on June 3, 2005 to look into whether gastrointestinal illnesses caused by a parasite Cyclospora were related to fresh basil. So far there were 293 laboratory-confirmed cases of illness in 32 Florida countries.61 This is only one example of recent outbreaks linked to fresh produce. In fact, CDC estimates that about 12% of foodborne-outbreak associated illnesses were linked to fresh produce. Contaminated fresh produce may pose a risk of microbial illness because it is often intended to be eaten raw.

Personally I wouldn’t mind the 1.4 bouts of diarrhea CDC suggests per year from foodborne illnesses if it meant less legislation.


Don't hide from it

Talk about a bromance, Kevin McLeod makes out with Stanley Kubrick. You're missing the point if you care whether he's "right" or "wrong". Expand your ontology.

I love you, Man.

An ad that is an idea

Herman Miller created a chair that's supposed to help you think.

And then built a website that forces you to.

Sweet little film

"Sweet Dreams" from Kirsten Lepore on Vimeo.


Ego stroking

Media coverage of the loss of personal wealth by the world's richest .01% takes the wrong tone. Who cares how much they lost? How much do they still have and what kind of obscene luxury items are they buying with all that cash we don't have?

A boat with a helicopter, sailboat, and motor boat...on the deck

A $25,000 chocolate sundae

A $1 million phone

$30 million diamond underwear


Now showing

March 13 - 19 Angelika Film Center, New York, NY


Only getting worse

The New York Times (30th October, 1929)

"Stock prices virtually collapsed yesterday, swept downward with gigantic losses in the most disastrous trading day in the stock market's history. Billions of dollars in open market values were wiped out as prices crumbled under the pressure of liquidation of securities which had to be sold at any price.

There was an impressive rally just at the close, which brought many leading stocks back from 4 to 14 points from their lowest points of the day.

Efforts to estimate yesterday's market losses in dollars are futile because of the vast number of securities quoted over the counter and on out-of-town exchanges on which no calculations are possible. However, it was estimated that 880 issues, on the New York Stock Exchange, lost between $8,000,000,000 and $9,000,000,000 yesterday. Added to that loss is to be reckoned the depreciation on issues on the Curb Market, in the over the counter market and on other exchanges.

Banking support, which would have been impressive and successful under ordinary circumstances, was swept violently aside, as block after block of stock, tremendous in proportions, deluged the market. Bid prices placed by bankers, industrial leaders and brokers trying to halt the decline were crashed through violently, their orders were filled, and quotations plunged downward in a day of disorganization, confusion and financial impotence.

Groups of men, with here and there a woman, stood about inverted glass bowls all over the city yesterday watching spools of ticker tape unwind and as the tenuous paper with its cryptic numerals grew longer at their feet their fortunes shrunk. Others sat stolidly on tilted chairs in the customers' rooms of brokerage houses and watched a motion picture of waning wealth as the day's quotations moved silently across a screen.

It was among such groups as these, feeling the pulse of a feverish financial world whose heart is the Stock Exchange, that drama and perhaps tragedy were to be found. The crowds about the ticker tape, like friends around the bedside of a stricken friend, reflected in their faces the story the tape was telling. There were no smiles. There were no tears either. Just the cameraderie of fellow-sufferers. Everybody wanted to tell his neighbor how much he had lost. Nobody wanted to listen. It was too repetitious a tale."

Play it again

They're not kidding

Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?

Crude but true

Maybe this explains why all the super smart, sexy and accomplished people I know are - for the most part - still single well beyond their marriageable years.

Maybe being flung across the world pursuing personal interests and not staying in one place long enough to build lasting relationships has something to do with it, too.
[Or maybe that's just me.]

At least there are self-promotional t-shirts.


Mushroom print

You don't know Darth

This is just... WRONG on so many levels.

The most successful franchises are those which delve into the essence of the brand and recast it in a contemporary light. Star Wars’ Clone Wars, despite all the criticism you hear, is making a lot of money. The kids watching it today aren’t familiar with the prequels. They don’t even know that Anakin is Darth Vader.

Diggin in the crates

Hard to imagine that YouTube owes everything to these two individuals:

Carl Malamud

Tim Berners-Lee

Here they are together.

Pissing on the border

I just came across an interesting argument in the battle for private property legitimacy (not that this is seriously in dispute, but some philosophers have considered it destructive to human organization):

"property is no mere social convention or game, but a critically important evolved mechanism for the avoidance of violence." [Raymond, E. from The Cathedral and the Bazaar]

Ironically, in searching for information on the subject, I came across more articles written to teach us how to dissuade domesticated animals from doing it than I did articles to understand why we humans seem to find it so necessary.

Yeah, those pissing animals are nothing like us.

In the past...