Monday, November 30, 2009

Notable New York, This Week 11/30 – 12/6 - The

Mike Daisey’s The Last Cargo Cult makes its New York debut at the Public Theater. Mike Daisey’s monologues are hilarious, rich and thoroughly researched narratives. With the Last Cargo Cult, Daisey tells the story of his journey to a remote South Pacific island whose people worship America and its cargo. This narrative is combined with an examination of the international financial crisis that occurred simultaneously with his trip. If you’ve never seen Mike Daisey, it’s a worthwhile outing. The Public Theater. 425 Lafayette Street. $40. Runs through Dec. 13.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Did Christianity Cause the Crash? - The Atlantic (December 2009):

America’s mainstream religious denominations used to teach the faithful that they would be rewarded in the afterlife. But over the past generation, a different strain of Christian faith has proliferated—one that promises to make believers rich in the here and now. Known as the prosperity gospel, and claiming tens of millions of adherents, it fosters risk-taking and intense material optimism. It pumped air into the housing bubble. And one year into the worst downturn since the Depression, it’s still going strong.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What's Your Christmas Card List Got to Do With the Development of the Human Brain? - Boing Boing:

The discovery has its origin in studies that compared the size of non-human primate social groups with the animals' brain size. The idea is that larger social networks are good things: Offering physical protection against enemies, shared strength and ingenuity to accomplish difficult tasks and a safety net in case you, personally, don't hunt or gather up enough food. But managing those networks takes brain power. If you don't have enough, your clique can't ever get very big.

But say you're the one guy primate with a slightly larger brain and, thus, slightly bigger social network. You'd have a better chance of surviving adverse conditions. And, you'd have a better chance of meeting women who'd be interested in your monkey butt. The fact that a larger brain means a larger social network was probably one of the evolutionary pressures that turned humans into the big-brained species we are today, Dunbar said.

In the early 1990s, Dunbar applied the ratio between primate brain size and social network size to modern humans. By his calculations, 150 people is about the largest social network each human can maintain. You might know more folks than that, but the 150 will be the ones you really have an important relationship with--the ones you really care about.
Philosophy and appeal.
Vancouver Olympics will own words like "winter," "2010" and "Vancouver" - Boing Boing:

Canadian Industry Minister Maxime Bernier recently introduced Bill C-47, the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act, through which the Vancouver Olympics are guaranteed exclusive public use of the following words: winter, gold, silver, bronze, sponsor, Vancouver, Whistler, 2010, tenth, medals, and games.

It's amazing how the Olympics have come to symbolize bullying corporate greed; overreaching, violent "security measures;" drug abuse and destruction of public facilities and low-income housing.
Mondo Lucha @ Turner Hall
Let Leftovers Be Leftovers:

The reality, however, is that you'd never consider making curried turkey salad on greens at any other time of year. So why make it this Friday? We spend weeks planning for Thanksgiving dinner. We travel great distances to enjoy it with loved ones. We postpone diets to gorge ourselves. We may even fast all day to make room for one more slice of pumpkin pie. Why not enjoy the leftovers for what they are, a delicious continuation of that feast?

In some ways, the leftover feast is as sacred as the meal itself. The guests have left, you've cozied up in your PJs, and the only remaining company is your closest family, the people you love most. There's the huddling around the Tupperware as you all seek the perfect bite of cold stuffing; the soft hum of the microwave in the otherwise quiet house as it warms the mashed potatoes; the smell of toasted bread slathered with mayo for the perfect turkey sandwich (sandwiches are, in my mind, the only acceptable use of leftovers).

Why replace these rituals with recipes that are not only ridiculous, but create more work? Let Thanksgiving live out its natural life—you'll know when it's time to move on.

Slashdot | What the iPod Tells Us About the World Economy:

"Edmund Conway has an interesting article in the Telegraph where he analyzes where the money goes when you buy a complex electronic device marked 'Made in China,' and why a developed economy doesn't need a trade surplus in order to survive. For his example, Conway chooses a 30GB video iPod 'manufactured' in China in 2006. Each iPod, sold in the US for $299, provides China with an export value of about $150, but as it turns out, Chinese producers really only 'earned' around $4 on each unit. 'China, you see, is really just the place where most of the other components that go inside the iPod are shipped and assembled.' Conway says that when you work out the overall US balance of payments, it shows that most of the cash for high tech inventions has flowed back to the United States as a direct result of the intellectual property companies own in their products. 'While the iPod is manufactured offshore and has a global roster of suppliers, the greatest benefits from this innovation go to Apple, an American company, with predominantly American employees and stockholders who reap the benefits,'

Friday, November 27, 2009

707 and 880
"Lied Without Lying" - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

A formal investigation of Dublin’s Catholic Archdiocese concludes that there is “no doubt” that child sexual abuse was covered up by Church authorities over four decades.

[A] report in May sought to document the scale of abuse as well as the reasons why church and state authorities didn't stop it, whereas Thursday's 720-page report focused on why church leaders in the Dublin Archdiocese – home to a quarter of Ireland's 4 million Catholics – did not tell police about a single abuse complaint against a priest until 1995. By then, the investigators found, successive archbishops and their senior deputies – among them qualified lawyers – already had compiled confidential files on more than 100 parish priests who had sexually abused children since 1940. Those files had remained locked in the Dublin archbishop's private vault.

The investigators also dug up a paper trail documenting the church's long-secret insurance policy, taken out in 1987, to cover potential lawsuits and compensation demands. Dublin church leaders publicly denied the existence of the problem for a decade afterward – but since the mid-1990s have paid out more than euro10 million ($15 million) in settlements and legal bills..."

If the Catholic church were a secular institution in Ireland and had been found guilty of child abuse to the massive extent the Church has, it would be forced to close. Its top officials would not be issuing statements of apology and regret, but serving sentences in jail. The name of John Paul II would not be a revered mantra; it would be synonymous with the head of an international organization that had to be dragged kicking and screaming to acknowledge its own long-running, institutional brutalization of generations of defenseless children.
A Brief History of Black Friday:

If you ask most people why the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, they’ll explain that the name stems from retailers using the day’s huge receipts as their opportunity to “get in the black” and become profitable for the year. The first recorded uses of the term “Black Friday” are a bit less rosy, though.

According to researchers, the name “Black Friday” dates back to Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. The Friday in question is nestled snugly between Thanksgiving and the traditional Army-Navy football game that’s played in Philadelphia on the following Saturday, so the City of Brotherly Love was always bustling with activity on that day. All of the people were great for retailers, but they were a huge pain for police officers, cab drivers, and anyone who had to negotiate the city’s streets. They started referring to the annual day of commercial bedlam as “Black Friday” to reflect how irritating it was.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hacked Climate Science Emails | Climate Change | The American Scene:

A set of very damaging e-mails have apparently been hacked from the Hadley Climate Research Unit; they purportedly show climate scientists there manipulating and deploying historical climate data to reach predetermined conclusions, coordinating messaging, and attempting to control the definition of expertise in order to marginalize those who disagree with them.

I have not read the full set of e-mails, nor have I seen authoritative evidence of their provenance, but for the sake of argument let’s assume the allegations are correct. None of this surprises me. I argued over two years ago that: 1) Long-term climate reconstruction was one of the two key trouble spots in climate science; 2) mathematically sophisticated critics had debunked the methodology used to reconstruct long-term climate evidence that is the basis for the famous “hockey stick” increase in global temperatures; and 3) excellent evidence had been presented to the U.S. Senate that, in climate reconstruction, academic peer review meant, in effect, agreement among a tiny, self-selected group of experts. The root problem here is not the eternal perfidy of human nature, but the fact that we can’t run experiments on history to adjudicate disputes, which makes this less like chemistry or physics than like economics or political science.

Cool POTUS Watch - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

You see this in the almost clinical way Obama has assessed the politics of taking on the Bush administration's interrogation, detention and rendition policies. The way in which both Greg Craig and Phil Carter have been dispatched for insisting that Obama live up to his campaign promises (no, I don't believe the personal reasons line) is chilling in its raw political calculation. Ditto Obama's disciplined refusal to fulfill his campaign pledges on civil rights any time soon. And his rhetorical restraint during the Green Revolution. The determination to figure out the very best and most detailed way forward in Afghanistan, even during a war in which allies are waiting and enemies are watching, and to take his time ... well this is also a sign that we are dealing with one very, very cool character here.

Since I've always had a soft spot for cold fish in realpolitik - which high Tory (pun fully intended) doesn't get a frisson from Bismarck or Kissinger? - this impresses me. Since I'm also a red-blooded Irishman, eager for a fight and a little romantic about my ideals, this also angers me at times.
The Fate of Obama's Turkey Pardons - The Atlantic Food Channel:

A little background. Beginning with George H.W. Bush in 1989, Presidents have been sparing the lives of two White House turkeys at Thanksgiving time and sending them to various farms across Virginia. George Bush the Younger, however, bucked tradition in 2005 and sent the birds to either Disneyland or Disneyworld. There, they were crassly paraded about as holiday attractions, fed a conventional diet of cheap feed, and medically ignored. Half the birds died within a year. Writes Farm Sanctuary: "Disney's track record shows that it simply is not able to provide the level of care necessary to keep these birds healthy, happy and comfortable for years. "

Modern turkeys are not bred for longevity. To the contrary, they're genetically manipulated to fatten as quickly as possible and die.

The reason is interesting, if disturbing, and it lends a bit of insight into the bizarre nature of turkey farming. Modern turkeys are not bred for longevity. To the contrary, they're genetically manipulated to fatten as quickly as possible and die. Breeding for commercially desirable traits--mainly large breasts--has created turkeys that are so top-heavy they can hardly walk. Sex is equally out of the question, as distortions make it physically impossible for the birds to mate (all commercial turkeys are artificially inseminated). And what's been done to them externally has an internal counterpart. Heart attacks, for example, are common in young turkeys, something that never happens in the wild. Bottom line: past a certain age, it takes a lot of work to keep these biological oddities alive and well.

The top 10 reasons to be thankful for New York's wild and wonderful theater scene | Metromix New York:

Mike Daisey

Alone onstage with a legal pad, a glass of water, and his voice, Mike Daisey spins a free association of savage cultural analysis, poignant personal history, and well-researched fact. He soothes your ears one moment and cauterizes your brain the next. I can't wait for his next monologue—in which he describes his three weeks with a tribe on a South Pacific volcanic island and investigates the fallout of Wall Street's financial meltdown—at the Public Theater's cavernous Newman space in December.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Brody Condon: Case ::

An ambitious new work by Brody Condon, Case is a reading of the classic cyberpunk novel Neuromancer by William Gibson in a rehearsal-like setting. Combining Gibson’s 1980s dystopian techno-fetishism with early twentieth-century abstraction, faux “virtual reality” scenes will unfold via moving Bauhaus-inspired sculptural props accompanied by the Gamelan ensemble Dharma Swara.

The event at the New Museum is the premiere of Case, which will also be performed at a small outdoor community theater in rural Missouri in summer 2010. The New York production of Case will feature many of the ten cast members from the upcoming Midwest event, such as political activist (and notorious local hell-raiser) Ray “Bad Rad” Radtke, who stars as the main character Henry Dorsett Case, a drug addict and computer hacker hired to execute an impossible cyber crime. Case will also feature Brooklyn-based performance artist Sto as Lupus Yonderboy, leader of the techno-anarchist gang the Panther Moderns, and the actress Sasha Grey as the street samurai Molly. The script has been prepared by the writer Brandon Stosuy, with sound design by Peter Segerstrom, and graphic props by Breanne Trammell.

Matt Taibbi - Taibblog – Sarah Palin, WWE Star - True/Slant:

With Going Rogue, the 2012 reality show has already begun. As brainless political theater, she can’t be topped. It’s just too bad for conservatives that she happens to be unsustainably divisive and, as Newsweek points out, a really good bet to permanently marginalize the Republican party by reducing it to a pissed-off, semi-coherent mob that repulses independent voters on a visceral level. To paraphrase John Doman’s Deputy Ops Rawls character from The Wire, she’s “brilliant — fuckin’ shame it’s gonna end our careers, but still.”
The curious economic effects of religion - The Boston Globe:

A pair of Harvard researchers recently examined 40 years of data from dozens of countries, trying to sort out the economic impact of religious beliefs or practices. They found that religion has a measurable effect on developing economies - and the most powerful influence relates to how strongly people believe in hell.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New York City Just Gives Up on Subway Service - New York - Gawker:

But, yes, it is insane that our mass transit is operated by a rotating cast of idiot millionaires with free E-Zpasses for life (and beyond!) beholden to absolutely no one, at all, operating with two sets of books, and yet we have to actually sympathize with them because the people who profit from the way an efficient mass transit system allows for the mobility of cheap labor don't think they should be forced to pony up any money to keep transit affordable. Fares are simply taxes—incredibly regressive taxes, just like the sales taxes that New York City residents suffer to fund our own transit while suburban New Yorkers bitch about the prospect of being charged to clog our streets with their cars, and Jersey dicks bemoan the tolls they have to pay to enter the city where they make all of their money while contributing nothing back.

Meanwhile, though, the MTA lies, about everything, all the time. They are saving just enough of the money from the emergency bailout earlier this year to allow them to not threaten to raise fares again for one (1) year (while fighting transit workers' promised wage increase in court). And thanks to that bailout, we only had to endure a slight fare increase with no service cuts! Except that not a single goddamn line is running on schedule anymore, ever, and that's been the case all year and it only gets worse every week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Sarah Palin Is Using Her Newsweek Cover to Trick You Into Taking Her Seriously:

It was recontextualized by Newsweek into the real world, a world in which a staged photo of the woman who hijacked the 2008 presidential election beaming goofily into the camera and holding her two Blackberries and American flag like random iconography thrown in to justify the fact that she's modeling her legs is frightening and laughable. The reason Palin posed for the Runner's World photo is that she wanted people to see her legs and think of her as youthful, vibrant, fit, and in control, and she thought that a good way to do it was to just throw any old American flag around and let those gams loose. The reason Newsweek chose it for the cover was to communicate that this is how Sarah Palin sees herself. Sarah Palin likes the imagery, and her adherents like the imagery; the problem emerges when people who don't reflexively and unthinkingly love Sarah Palin encounter the imagery. Then it's sexist.

It was also sexist when Newsweek ran an unretouched photo of her in closeup where you could make out her facial hair. And it will be sexist next year when they run another photo that references the fact Palin is a human being with a body, and it will be sexist so long as Newsweek, or anyone else who dares gaze at Miss Sarah, isn't sufficiently deferential to her image of herself. She wants to be the hot mom, and she wants to be the emerging political power center. She wants those two identities to reinforce one another, but she doesn't want anyone to screw with the messaging.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Slashdot Apple Story | Apple Patents 'Enforceable' Ad Viewing On Devices:

"Its distinctive feature is a design that doesn’t simply invite a user to pay attention to an ad — it also compels attention. The technology can freeze the device until the user clicks a button or answers a test question to demonstrate that he or she has dutifully noticed the commercial message. Because this technology would be embedded in the innermost core of the device, the ads could appear on the screen at any time, no matter what one is doing."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

YouTube - Invitation to the Future:

Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen's message to the future, inviting time travelers to join the show at WNYC's Greene Space on Nov. 17, 2009. Other guests include: singer Janelle Monae, storyteller Mike Daisey, and physicist David Goldberg.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Consumerist Hotline: Citi Doubles Your Interest Rate Unless You Transfer $5000 More Onto Card:

The message, edited for style and clarity, goes:

"My name is Kent, and my husband yesterday we got a mailing from Citibank.

They're basically threatening to double the interest rate, or, not threatening, they were doing it. They're saying the only way he could lower it is if we transferred $5,000 in balances from any other card we may have. We have a balance on the card, but we haven't used the card in over a year.

So, basically, here, run up more credit. My husband say, this isn't acceptable, and he negotiated with them, and was just kind of hard with them.

They kept saying over and over again, "It's the increasing cost of doing business, it's the increasing cost of doing business." It was their constant refrain. The people were very well trained to stay on their message points.

It was interesting, they were basically saying "here, run up more debt." Obviously that's their business but it's irresponsible for anybody.

And it's just insane. The woman even said, "Well, we can do this." Well, we'll see."

So let's get this straight. Bankers have to increase credit card interest rates to "price for risk," which, supposedly, is the increased risk that debtors will default in this economic client. But here, Citi is saying, become a riskier customer by putting more debt on this card, or we'll punish you by doubling your interest rates.
"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured."

- Twain

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You Want a Social Life, With Friends

You want a social life, with friends,
A passionate love life and as well
To work hard every day. What's true
Is of these three you may have two
And two can pay you dividends
But never may have three.

There isn't time enough, my friends --
Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends --
To find the time to have love, work, and friends.
Michelangelo had feeling
For Vittoria and the ceiling
But did he go to parties at day's end?

Homer nightly went to banquets
Wrote all day but had no lockets
Bright with pictures of his girl.
I know one who loves and parties
And has done so since his thirties
But writes hardly anything at all.

Kenneth Koch

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lynndie England by Errol Morris - Accidental Celebrities - Newsweek 2010:

People focused all their hatred of the war on this one woman, almost as if in creating a hero out of Jessica Lynch, they needed to find the ultimate depraved antihero in Lynndie England. In a perverse twist, these “bad apples” of Abu Ghraib actually helped secure George W. Bush’s reelection as president. The day those photos became public was the worst day of Bush’s presidency, and everyone knew it. But showing publicly how shocked and outraged he was distanced him from the ugliness overseas. It gave him someone to blame—and it worked. Instead of looking at connections between Abu Ghraib, the war, and the White House, we just looked at those pictures. They deflected attention away from the policies that had produced them. But the fact of the matter is this: the United States was operating a concentration camp in the Sunni Triangle, and these people were following orders. I remain convinced the worst of it has still not been released to the public.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Google fails to address app storage issue with Droid and Android 2.0 – Android and Me:

The Motorola Droid will be the most powerful Android phone to date when it launches on November 6, 2009. However, the device still features the same shortcomings of all other Android phones. The Droid ships with a 512 MB ROM which contains only 256 MB available for app storage.

Google does not support installing apps to the SD card (and likely never will), so developers are limited in what they can create.

Have you seen all the awesome iPhone and iPod Touch games? Hardly any of them would fit on an Android phone. It is not uncommon for popular titles to easily exceed 100 MB. For example, the game Myst takes up a whopping 727MB.

It's Not in the P-I - Features - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

The play traces some structural weaknesses of the newspaper business; putting the play together revealed some weaknesses in the theater business.

The fateful drinking session between Paulson (the science reporter) and Mullin (the playwright) happened on March 26, 2009, about a week after the P-I closed. Mullin and Nichols quickly assembled their team of playwright-reporters and hoped to cover the story, in Mullin's words, "with something approaching the speed of journalism."

Five days after having the idea, Mullin began approaching the bigger theaters around town, asking if they were interested. "This project is the best kind of local theater," he says (in another bar, as it happens). "Theater for, by, and about the people of Seattle." But nobody could commit to turning the production around fast enough, not even on their smaller secondary or tertiary stages. "The big houses will never say no," Mullin says. "They'll take meetings with everyone and say yes to everything—they're fucking Hollywood now—but then they'll let a project die the death of a rag doll. I'd love to premiere this show with the same professional talent the show was written by. Of course, nobody's getting paid. But we're playwrights—we're used to working on stupid passion and alcohol."

"The big houses were very gracious and unequivocally praised the piece, but unfortunately as institutions they are piloted like supertankers," he wrote. "They can't make a turn unless they plan to do so a year ahead. We were determined to treat this project like journalism, not history. It's sad that Seattle's biggest and best-known theaters cannot respond to what's happening in the community."

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Parabasis: Riedel on Memoirs:

What upsets me more is the groupthink on Brighton's closing, from Patrick Healy to Howard Kissel to Ken Davenport to Playgoer that somehow the show was failed by its audience because we're all starfuckers or we aren't Jewish enough or we watch too much television. It's bullshit.

The producers tried to do a big Broadway show on the cheap. They decided to do two parts of a trilogy and not open them at the same time, thus robbing the show of any sense of it being special. Then they tried to skimp on advertising. Then they only had three weeks of previews, which cut out a lot of chance to build advance word. Then they didn't have enough cash reserves to keep it open after the reviews to build an audience. And they clearly had no advance press strategy whatsoever.

That's called bad producing, folks.
jake saari

Friday, November 06, 2009


November 2nd and your rent is due.
You have, what, three days
To find the funds, to use the excuse

“It slipped my mind.” Last night
You dreamt you were at your old
Office, and though it’s been a decade

Your old desk was there, old phone
With blinking red light meaning
“You have messages.” And an HR

Woman wanted to talk to you
About your long absence
And how you should have called in

And how next time there would be
Consequences. Delightful dream,
To walk into that old place

Knowing you could also walk out,
Knowing you’d just been kissing a movie star
Who’d begged to borrow your lips

Because she wanted to try something new.

Jean-Michele Gregory
I am invariably late for appointments - sometimes as much as two hours. I've tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing.

Marilyn Monroe
Be Mine
DNC Failed to Tell Anyone How to Vote For Gay Marriage - Gay Marriage - Gawker:

This should surprise no one but Obama's campaign organization, which has swallowed the DNC, failed to do any organizing for the Maine gay marriage vote, though it did email Maine volunteers asking them to make calls for Jon Corzine.

And then they lied about it to John Aravosis. (Sort of.) Which is just fucking stupid. It's one thing to not bother to support your gay constituency, it's another to insult them.

The financial and personal ramifications that come when a doctor apologizes to a patient:

In one case I still think about, Andy (I've changed his name to protect his privacy) was a healthy teenager with migraines. "Take 600 milligrams of ibuprofen to start, and if that doesn't work, I'll prescribe something else," I told him. But in the month that followed, Andy's headaches grew worse.

I found nothing abnormal when I examined him. When I reviewed his records, I noted that he was taking anxiety medication prescribed by a psychiatrist. Perhaps that could be causing his symptoms, I thought, so I referred him back to psychiatry and to a neurologist before sending him home.

The next morning, I received a message from the emergency room. After his appointment, Andy had had a seizure in a store. In the emergency room, a doctor noticed something important when he looked at Andy's eyes with an ophthalmoscope: swelling of the optic disc, located in the back of the eye. Papilledema, as it is called, is a cardinal sign of increased pressure inside of the head. Had I seen it, I would have done exactly what the E.R. doctor did—ordered a stat CT scan, which revealed that Andy had deposits of fluid in his brain. Had it worsened, the pressure could have caused Andy's brain to herniate down into his spinal cord, which may have killed him. When I had examined Andy's eyes the same way, I missed the papilledema.

There are at least 25 definitions of the word error in medical literature. But the regret, fear, shame, and self-loathing I felt were all the definition I needed. How could I have done this?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Adam Szymkowicz: I Interview Playwrights Part 88: Larry Kunofsky:

One day in fourth grade, I fell on my head after being tackled to the ground (by accident and without malice), and received a pretty serious concussion. I had to wait in the doctor's examining room in my underwear, which that day happened to be Green Lantern Underoos.

One major effect of the concussion was extreme disorientation. The other major effect was that I thought I was The Green Lantern.

I didn't realize I was in a doctor's office, I just knew that I wasn't at my grandmother's house, and assumed that someone was holding my grandmother hostage. I saw myself in the mirror, wearing my Green Lantern Underoos, and I thought, oh, this is my uniform. For I Am The Green Lantern. And I ran out into the waiting room, screaming "Bring my grandmother unto me! For I am The Green Lantern!" And then women and children screamed and ran away from the weird kid in the green underwear.

The amazing thing about believing that you're The Green Lantern while in the throes of a serious concussion is that you remember what it felt like to be The Green Lantern for the rest of your life.

End Game
Some Real Mature Women, And Some More Of They Friends... - Ta-Nehisi Coates:

I read Brooks is column and thought of the 80 and 90 year old slaves interviewed by the WPA. There is a lot in those oral histories that is, as they say, old and true. But there's a lot that's old and false. A constant refrain is the notion that the "moving pictures" were ruining young people, and the next generation wasn't worth anything. To be clear, that would be the same generation that gave us Martin Luther King, and effectively finished the Civil War.

This is a theme residing in the conservative soul--a professed, thinly-reasoned skepticism of the fucked-up now, contrasted against a blind, unquestioning acceptance of the hypermoral past. This is a human idea--most people, like those slaves, believe some point in the past was better. And indeed, in some case the past was demonstrably better. But the writer who would argue such has to prove it. He can't just accept his innate hunch. He has to bumrush and beat down his theories of the world, And should they emerge unbroken, that writer might have something to tell us. It's got to be more than justifying your prejudice. It's got to be more than those meddling kids.

Green Fields of Irony

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Didn't Learn Because You Grew Up in China):

After three decades of the one-child policy, you'd expect people here to know how to have sex without getting pregnant. And you'd be wrong. In July, Chinese health officials said that 13 million abortions are performed in registered medical institutions each year, largely because people lack sex education. The number of unwanted pregnancies is even higher when you take into account abortions at unregistered medical clinics, not to mention the 10 million abortion-inducing pills sold each year.

I first met Hu over a cappuccino in Beijing's Financial District, a section of town where gleaming towers and chain restaurants have replaced the old alleyways and courtyard homes where families had lived for generations. I had worried that Hu, like most Chinese people, would be uncomfortable talking about sex. But she turned out to be chatty and confident and laughed as she told me her story. When I opened the interview with softball questions, she interrupted and asked, "Don't you want to hear about my experience with sex?"
Brick Lane
The Meaning of Information Technology « Magic Scaling Sprinkles:

There is an old logical puzzle called the Sorites Paradox, first articulated by the Megarian logician Eubulides of Miletus. It predates the stored program computer by 2,000 years but it similarly concerns the production of pastries:

Would you describe a single grain of wheat as a heap? No. Would you describe two grains of wheat as a heap? No…. You must admit the presence of a heap sooner or later, so where do you draw the line?

This problem was of keen interest to the philosophical community for thousands of years, principally because the Greek recipe for tea cakes called for two heaping tablespoons of sugar. Some philosophers went so far as to vow to grow a beard and engage in pederasty until a solution to the problem was found. But all efforts were in vain; the problem remains unsolved to this day.

Unfortunately, the problem has only become ever more acute in the modern era. In fact, far from only destabilizing the fabrication of pastries, it has further undermined every area of society. Consider the process of voting. If no one voted, one vote would affect the outcome. But if millions of people vote, one vote makes little difference.

In fact, the defining characteristic of the modern era is that every aspect of society is heaping. To understand how this came to be, we must revisit ancient history.

Relax here: Speakeasy Stories at Cornelia Street Café | Own This City | Time Out New York:

One outlet for them might be Cornelia Street Café’s (29 Cornelia St between Bleecker and W 4th Sts; 212-989-9319, semimonthly Speakeasy Stories ($10 plus one drink/food item minimum), a chance for NYC storytellers to have their moment in the spotlight and spin their favorite yarns.

Host Sherry Weaver, who puts on these events out of a sheer love for storytelling, will informally audition anyone who’s interested in sharing their own winning anecdotes—just send her an e-mail at, meet her at a café for a glass of wine and gab away! Past Speakeasy Stories performers have included Mike Daisey, Jonathan Ames, and Reno, although really anyone who can enrapture an audience for twenty minutes is eligible. Official lineups can be found beforehand at

The storytellers and listeners congregate downstairs in the café from 9 to 11pm; make it a late dinner and order from the café’s menu, which is offered until 10:45pm. In fact, bring a date. The burden of conversation will almost certainly be lightened.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Nowhere, USA
GROGNARDIA: Beauty in Decay:

What does this have to do with RPGs? Nothing necessarily. However, I've noticed that many, if not most, pulp fantasy worlds have a strongly "autumnal" feeling to them. The best days of the world are over and "Winter" is coming. It's not here yet and there's a chance of a brief "Indian Summer" before the snows fall, but it is coming and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it. Howard's writing definitely has this quality, as does that of Lovecraft and Smith. Moorcock's stories exude this feeling, as do, at the opposite end of the spectrum, Tolkien's. One age is passing away and the new one that is dawning will be a lesser one, a "colder" one.

Nowhere, USA
Boo! | Slog | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

But mixed in with all the happy kids who come in costume—kids who come from all over the freakin' city (good luck finding a place to park anywhere near our neighborhood after 6 PM)—are the usual 'tween and teenagers who are too cool for costumes but not to cool for mini-Snickers and individually wrapped Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. They look embarrassed to be standing on your porch. They mumble "trick-or-treat" without making eye contact. They carry pillow cases, not plastic pumpkins. They don't come in costume. Everyone complains about older these older kids but no one is prepared to do anything about them.

Except us.

For these trick-or-treaters—older kids who aren't in costumes—we lay in a few bags of peeled-and-wrapped garlic cloves. We mix 'em into the bowl with the rest of the candy so they're handy, but we're careful to only give 'em to older kids who don't come in costume. The garlic says, "My, you're getting up there," and, "Gee, you could at least make an effort." We think everybody should do it.