Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Prof. Michael Lebowitz: The Socialist Alternative

Continuing with our several days of great biting from DangerousMinds, here's another clip worth watching with Metzger interviewing:

Due to increasing competition for scarce natural resources, a barbarism haunts the planet. In the drive for expansion and profits, the endgame of the capitalist system promises imperialism, domination of impoverished peoples and an ecological nightmare. The capitalist path is a death trap, but there is a just, people-based alternative: Socialism. In this wide-ranging interview, Prof. Michael Lebowitz discusses his latest book, The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development.

Monday, August 30, 2010

D-Nice’s True Hip-Hop Stories: Great vid about Masta Ace and Marley Marl’s “The Symphony”

I've know D-Nice since the 80's, always the nice guy, and a good rapper, he had one minor hit "My Name Is D-Nice", MTV and the whole sha-bang, and eventually came to be an adult, now he makes movies, websites, and has been a photographer and a photography fan for a long time. Here's a nice pice I found on DangerousMinds a few days ago.


This culture always seems to conflate hip-hop’s artists-turned-marketing-moguls—Diddy, 50, Jay-Z—with its true renaissance people, those who are truly hands-on in many of the disciplines inside hip-hop. People like Bronx-raised Derrick Jones a.k.a. D-Nice, who for the past couple of years has put together the excellent short video series True Hip-Hop Stories.

Starting as a teen in the mid-‘80s Jones was the third original member along with KRS-ONE of Boogie Down Productions, and he put out a couple good but undersung albums as part of that crew. Since then, he’s become one of hip-hop’s original go-to guys for web design, and he’s also made his name via his photography and video work, along with getting back into DJing.

Basically he’s pushing culture rather than colored water or a clothing line. That’s refreshing. Here’s one of his first videos for the True Hip Hop Stories series—it’s Masta Ace talking about how he got in on one of hip-hop’s quintessential posse cuts, the Juice Crew’s fantastic “The Symphony” from 1988. It’s recommended you check out the rest of his vids.

True Hip-Hop Stories: Masta Ace from D-Nice on Vimeo.

Here’s the damn funny official video for “The Symphony.” Classic!

here's a few bonus tracks that i love from this crew:

Kool G Rap:

Big Daddy Kane's Debut with Biz Markie as host:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

America's Got some glaring cultural contrasts

Once again, from our friend Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds:

Two viral videos today in the Summer of Hate caused me to think some more about the IQ stratification in this country. In truth, the only thing they have in common is that I watched one right after the other.

First we have the grotesque, transparently manipulative commercial for Glenn Beckstock this weekend in D.C. I won’t even go into the reasons why watching this made me throw up a little in my mouth because the reasons are just so glaringly obvious to anyone with a decent education or even a rudimentary grasp of American history. Dare to press play and watch this for as long as you can stand it. This commercial, as dumb and as boring as it seems, functions as nothing short of a sophisticated mindrape of our most stupid and easily manipulated citizenry. I’m not overstating the case here. I’ll bet there are people who fucking cried when they watched this cynical, brain-damaged glorification of crazypants, megalomaniacal Beck (and not for the same reason I wanted to cry, either).

And then there is the bottom clip, of LA-based performer Prince Poppycock’s flamboyant appearance on America’s Got Talent. Poppycock’s beautifully costumed and choreographed run at Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” where he, as Piers Morgan puts it “outcamps Freddie Mercury” is a delight and a lot of fun to watch, but what’s fascinating here is to think about the overlap in the audiences of the Glenn Beck show and of America’s Got Talent.

WHAT did the teabagger types, who obviously make up at least some portion of that show’s audience, make of Poppycock moving into the semi-finals? Imagine all the homophobic lemon faces that were pulled in “Good Christian Homes” all across Amerikkka on Monday night!

It's amazing to me that the people who are able to appreciate and embrace an unusual performer like Prince Poppycock in a national talent show, can coexist with the type of “patriotic” idiots we’re going to see showing up for the Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin rally this weekend.

As you watch the news this weekend, ask yourself for how much longer will this be the case?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rubble Kings: New York City street gangs and the music that brought them together

This looks incredible!


From Shan Nicholson, director of Downtown Calling, comes this new documentary on New York City gangs called Rubble Kings.

From 1968 to 1975, gangs ruled New York City. Beyond the idealistic hopes of the civil rights movement lay a unfocused rage. Neither law enforcement nor social agency could end the escalating bloodshed. Peace came only through the most unlikely and courageous of events that would change the world for generations to come by giving birth to hip-hop culture.

from DangerousMinds Via Stupefaction

Friday, August 27, 2010

Target, stop trying to buy elections!

I just got this great message via MoveOn.org:

The retail company Target just gave over $150,000 to buy ads supporting a far-right Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota.

That's bad enough. But the stakes are much higher than one candidate and one company. If we don't push back hard, this will just be the tip of the iceberg. Other corporations will learn that they can pour money into elections to buy the outcome they want. So we're sending a message to Target's CEO that we won't shop there if Target continues spending money on elections.

check out http://targetboycott.org

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This Modern World asks:
A mosque near ground zero?

I'm offended even thinking about it! On earth and parallel earth alike, the wingnuts escalate the crazy BY TOM TOMORROW

(click on story image to read it full size)

getting caught in the shitstorm vortex...

Thanks, Eric

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

M O S Q U E (cont.)

I'm a New Yorker by residence since 1986 and in spirit my whole life.
I was here that day, 9/11/2001
Friends of mine were covered in World Trade Center dust.

This is a no brainer for most New Yorkers,
including those who lost family and lived closest to the destruction.

Let it be.

Stop The Wars,
Educate Our Children
Get us National Health Care
Feed The Hungry
Regulate Wall Street

Fuck this fake controversy!
No matter how stupid i think religions are, this is BEYOND stupid.
THIS IS NEW YORK, five blocks is like... 20 miles in most towns in this country.
All this republikkkan media shit storm is so fucking lame i can hardly believe people are even reporting it.
What The Fuck is the world coming to?

That said,
so of course we got lots of good supportive press for our efforts yesterday.
Read yesterdays post below and you can see why.

Thanks for your support of all the causes that make humans better.


UPDATE: Lots of piss-poor horribly written and horribly slanted press as well, it's really incredible.

now for a laugh . . .

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Parent Company Trap
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

All In A Days Work...
On a Non-Issue, Diversion from the Real Problems Facing Our Nation.

-please click on each image to see bigger-

Monday morning my old friend Russell Simmons called me up. Before he even finished the sentence I knew what was going down and what I wanted to do. We were going to revisit The Liberty Street protest. This was warrented by all the insanity surrounding the proposed building of a new Muslim mosque about six blocks away from "Ground Zero" (never mind that there is already a mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero already, for 40 years) and isn't there going to be a multi-denominational grieving place at the actual memorial on the hallowed ground? ...

Anyway, my personal idea was to just label the entire building with the huge 7 foot letters spelling out M-O-S-Q-U-E (similar to how we did N-O W-A-R back before the Republikkkan convention in 2004), but unfortunately Russ, and my wife (who came up with the idea to use "CoExist"), thought it was a bit too harsh, or "punk", and feeding into the frenzy of "negativity"... Well they are Russell's windows, and there are many things we don't agree about, being friends for over 25 years, you overlook some things, besides, it was still a great opportunity to make a statement that the world could see from his windows overlooking the actual World Trade Center site, not blocks away like the proposed mosque/cultural center will eventually be. So we went over some ideas and searched some existing graphics (with my friend and design collaborator over the years, Sean Bonner) and came to where we did. I think it's pretty cool, even if a bit tame.

(Yes, the "aum" symbol is backwards, this was obviously liberty taken in the original to help spell out the "Coexist" message that inspired our rendition.)

I mean seriously, of course we don't give a shit about where a mosque is. There should be one there closer by the WTC! We have them all over New York City. Personally if someone needs the crutch of religion, why not there? I don't give a fuck! This is a matter of principle. This is not being fought by real New Yorkers, this is being fought by some right wing assholes who have nothing to do with our city, carpetbaggers trying to make the news for their batshit, fucked up, xenophobic, racist agenda. The whole thing is fucking disgusting, I can hardly believe how so much of the country is falling for this diversion, it's pathetic and sad.

from the Bible. Mark 12:31 "Love thy neighbor..."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Verizon & Google Want to Kill the Open Internet -- Media Mogul Confirms Their Bad Intentions

Google's market capitalization is $150 billion. Verizon's is $85 billion. They don't care about our wellbeing. Even if one of them tells us it won't "be evil."

By Rep. Alan Grayson, from AlterNet
"[Barry] Diller asserted that the Google-Verizon proposal "doesn't preserve 'net neutrality,' full stop, or anything like it." Asked if other media executives were staying quiet because they stand to gain from a less open Internet, he said simply, "Yes."" New York Times, August 12, 2010
The Verizon-Google Net Neutrality Proposal begins by stating that "Google and Verizon have been working together to find ways to preserve the open Internet." Well, that's nice. Imagine what they would have come up with if they had been trying to kill off the open Internet.

Actually, you don't have to imagine it. Because that's what this is. An effort to kill off the open Internet.

Much of the coverage of the Verizon-Google Proposal has focused on only one of the proposal's many problems: the fact that the proposal allows wireless broadband carriers -- like, say, Verizon, for instance -- to discriminate in handling Internet traffic in any manner they choose. They can charge content providers, they can block content providers, and they can slow down content providers, just as they please. That sure doesn't sound "neutral."

We've already seen examples of political censorship over mobile networks. In 2007, Verizon refused to run a pro-choice text message from advocacy group NARAL, due to its supposedly 'unsavory' nature. Yes, this happened; yes, this kind of censorship would be continue to be legal under the Google-Verizon deal; and yes, Google, this is evil.

But the Verizon-Google Proposal allows almost as much latitude to other internet carriers, like cable and DSL carriers. Under the heading "Network Management," all carriers can "engage in reasonable network management," which "includes any technically sound practice" (which means what?). And it specifically includes the power to "prioritize general classes or types of Internet traffic, based on latency." The term "latency" means delays in downloading, from carrying video files and such. So if you want video, and YouTube won't pay Verizon to provide it, then Verizon can "prioritize" other traffic. And then your two-minute video will take two hours to see. And let's say you want to start a new website that offers video -- good luck getting through to Verizon's customer service department, to have Verizon place it in the right 'tier' of Verizon's internet service. In my experience, customer service requests have extraordinarily high "latency."

Furthermore, under the heading "Non-Discrimination Requirement" (that sounds promising!), wireline carriers cannot engage in "undue discrimination." "Undue discrimination!" What, exactly, is "due" discrimination? And even then, the presumption of non-discrimination "could be rebutted."

And if a carrier somehow manages to run afoul of these absurdly loose standards, the FCC doesn't even have the power to act, unless someone actually finds out about the discrimination, complains about it, and can prove it. And even then, the Verizon-Google Proposal limits the penalty to $2 million.

Do you happen to know what Verizon's revenue is every 10 minutes? It's . . . $2 million. That's right. The maximum fine is equal to what Verizon takes in every 10 minutes.

Do we laugh? Or do we cry?

This would give Verizon -- and every other large internet carrier -- the equivalent of a cheap "put" option on every company with an internet-based product or service. For a mere $2 million, Verizon could secretly block (or just mess with) the internet content of a billion-dollar company, destroying its market value overnight. And, perhaps, sending those customers to Verizon's rival product or service.

Now, I really would like to believe that the FCC can deliver on guaranteeing net neutrality. But remember, this 'proposal' came after months of secret, closed-door meetings with the FCC, spurred by Chairman Julius Genachowski, that sought an industry- brokered deal along the lines of the Verizon-Google Proposal. And when the proposal was issued, net neutrality's longtime ally, Commissioner Michael Copps, responded as follows: "Some will claim this announcement moves the discussion forward. That's one of its many problems."

When I see our most stalwart friend on the commission coming out against a deal shepherded by the Chairman, it doesn't inspire confidence that the FCC can hold the line against telecom and cable companies, when those companies have something else in mind.

Google's market capitalization is $150 billion. Verizon's is $85 billion. They don't care about our wellbeing. Never have, never will. Even if one of them tells us it won't "be evil."

It's time for the FCC to step up. It's time for Congress to step up. It's time for all of us to step up. We need for the law to protect the internet: No discrimination in pricing or in service. No self-regulation by corporate titans. And no blessing of corrupt deals at the FCC.

And we need all citizens to engage, to be vigilant. Remember, no one in Big Business has an interest in keeping this medium open to all of us. The only interest that wants to keep the internet open and free, for you and me, is you and me.

So if you care about a free and open internet, uncensored by Big Business, then look toward the horizon. A storm is brewing. There's a hard rain coming.

Alan Grayson is congressman for Florida's 8th District.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/147921/

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Future Currency: Redesigning The American Dollar

(Click on images to see full details)

Duncan Dowling has come up with some stylish concepts for redesigning American dollars. The vertical layout makes the money easier to handle because that’s the way paper currency is exchanged between people and machines.

You can read more about the project at Dowling’s website.
We have submitted a design concept to a competition being run by New York designer Richard Smith. The Dollar ReDe$ign Project hopes to bring about change for everyone. We want to rebrand the US Dollar, rebuild financial confidence and revive our failing economy.

Thanks, DangerousMinds

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Theory of disgust’s moral role and the evolutionary forces that determined it"

The surprising moral force of disgust

By Drake Bennett | from the Boston Globe

“Two things fill my mind with ever renewed wonder and awe the more often and deeper I dwell on them,” wrote Immanuel Kant, “the starry skies above me, and the moral law within me.”

Where does moral law come from? What lies behind our sense of right and wrong? For millennia, there have been two available answers. To the devoutly religious, morality is the word of God, handed down to holy men in groves or on mountaintops. To moral philosophers like Kant, it is a set of rules to be worked out by reason, chin on fist like Rodin’s thinker.

But what if neither is correct? What if our moral judgments are driven instead by more visceral human considerations? And what if one of those is not divine commandment or inductive reasoning, but simply whether a situation, in some small way, makes us feel like throwing up?

This is the argument that some behavioral scientists have begun to make: That a significant slice of morality can be explained by our innate feelings of disgust. A growing number of provocative and clever studies appear to show that disgust has the power to shape our moral

judgments. Research has shown that people who are more easily disgusted by bugs are more likely to see gay marriage and abortion as wrong. Putting people in a foul-smelling room makes them stricter judges of a controversial film or of a person who doesn’t return a lost wallet. Washing their hands makes people feel less guilty about their own moral transgressions, and hypnotically priming them to feel disgust reliably induces them to see wrongdoing in utterly innocuous stories.

Today, psychologists and philosophers are piecing these findings together into a theory of disgust’s moral role and the evolutionary forces that determined it: Just as our teeth and tongue first evolved to process food, then were enlisted for complex communication, disgust first arose as an emotional response to ensure that our ancestors steered clear of rancid meat and contagion. But over time, that response was co-opted by the social brain to help police the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Today, some psychologists argue, we recoil at the wrong just as we do at the rancid, and when someone says that a politician’s chronic dishonesty makes her sick, she is feeling the same revulsion she might get from a brimming plate of cockroaches.

“Disgust was probably the most underappreciated moral emotion, the most unstudied one,” says Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “It’s become politically much more relevant since the culture wars of the 1990s, and so within the broader renaissance of moral psychology disgust has been a particularly hot topic.”

Psychologists like Haidt are leading a wave of research into the so-called moral emotions — not just disgust, but others like anger and compassion — and the role those feelings play in how we form moral codes and apply them in our daily lives. A few, like Haidt, go so far as to claim that all the world’s moral systems can best be characterized not by what their adherents believe, but what emotions they rely on.

There is deep skepticism in parts of the psychology world about claims like these. And even within the movement there is a lively debate over how much power moral reasoning has — whether our behavior is driven by thinking and reasoning, or whether thinking and reasoning are nothing more than ornate rationalizations of what our emotions ineluctably drive us to do. Some argue that morality is simply how human beings and societies explain the peculiar tendencies and biases that evolved to help our ancestors survive in a world very different from ours.

continue reading the original article HERE.

thanks, Arts & Letters Daily

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Majestic Plastic Bag

Ah, the plastic cycle of life! Heal The Bay produced this advocacy video, the message of which is: put an end to plastic pollution. The short-form "nature mockumentary" is narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons and tracks the "migration" of a plastic bag from a grocery store parking lot to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean.

from Xeni at BoingBoing [via Submitterator] - thanks!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Solar Power Is Cheaper Than Nuclear Power for the First Time

(actually in the long run, i've always KNOWN solar power was less expensive, especially when you consider all the "extras" of nuclear power. It's cool that penny for penny now just the cost to the consumer is beginning to shine)

Here’s bright spot in the news of the day: energy from new solar installations has, for the first time, become cheaper than energy from new nuclear plants, according to a new Duke University study. Thanks to cost-saving technologies and economies of scale, price can no longer be an excuse to invest in nuclear power rather than solar.

In North Carolina, nuclear energy costs 16 cents per kilowatt hour (the energy required to run 10 100-watt light bulbs for an hour), whereas solar is now going for 14 cents per kWh — a rate that continues to fall. In regions with more annual sunlight, the price gap is almost certainly even more pronounced. The data also analyzed only conventional photovoltaic power, not the concentrating technologies of troughs and reflectors, which also bring costs down.

The study was developed in response to aggressive lobbying by the nuclear industry, which has tried to position itself as the most affordable way to reduce carbon emissions. The study factors in governmental subsidies for both power sources, but found that even if all subsidies were removed, solar power would still be cheaper within a decade.

from The Energy Colective via inhabitat.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Land Of Giants

The Land of Giants is a project by Choi + Shine Architects. The project transforms mundane electrical pylons into statues on the Icelandic landscape by making only small alterations to existing pylon design.

The pylon-figures can be configured to respond to their environment with appropriate gestures. As the carried electrical lines ascend a hill, the pylon-figures change posture, imitating a climbing person. Over long spans, the pylon-figure stretches to gain increased height, crouches for increased strength or strains under the weight of the wires.

Learn more about the project here.

thanks, Presurfer

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Skateboarders from HELL?

I've got no idea of the origins of this clip or even any idea when it was actually made. but it's ridiculous nonetheless.


Thanks, DangerousMinds

Monday, August 16, 2010

The FOX NEWS scam I discovered!

You're hearing it first here, at least as far as i know and i'd really appreciate it if some one forward this blog post to an investigative journalist who knows there shit. But as far as I can tell FOX news holding onto the ratings they have is a scam, in the truest sense.

Last week i was staying at a friends house out on Long Island, and to my dismay, every time we turned on a television set in any room in his huge house with huge flat screen TVs , FOX news came on, it was in fact the de-facto, default start up channel on each and every set!

I was disgusted and made a few calls to the cable operator, Cable Vision, iO, or Optimum, all the same company according to the technician who i eventually got on the line after calling 1-866-541-0548.

SO what i found out was that this cable company remotely rebooted all my friends TV's from their headquarters earlier in the year, and at that same time all customers got a new pre-set start up channel: motherfucking, racist, xenophobic, America hating, Obama Bashing piece of shit, FOX NEWS!

So what does this tell me, that either the owners of the cable provider are conservative assholes or FOX has paid them off and probably many other cable providers (did i forget to mention that this particular provider happens to be one of the largest in the country?) and this has helped them get those hard to believe high ratings for such disgusting programing (can't really be called "news"). Or at the very least so many more ignorant viewers. I believe this to be the case.

Now the fact is you can re-program each individual set top box to start up on any channel you like, but it's a bit of a pain, and takes several minutes for each individual set, if you could even figure it out.

Now how many people do you think actually go through the extra effort to adjust this? And how many do you think just end up leaving it on that channel because it was on already, pre-set by the cable provider?

Particularly after reading just the other day that Fox News viewership is mostly people over 65 years of age. This statistic alone is that which gives them the artificially inflated credibility with the Amerikkkan people they now seem to have, at least according to Fox and the idiots in the Tea Party.

Someone please look into this further, I feel there is a serious story here.

And call this cable provider, as i did and complain about how horrified you are by this despicable practice, if not totally disconnect from them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

They Are Us
A project for the homeless in Dublin

It is a tribute to the city: northside and southside, the visible and the secret, the good and the bad.
The aim of the project is to raise money for the homeless of Dublin.
The images were painted by graffiti artist Maser and feature words by musician Damien Dempsey.

Shot by my friend and Dublin curator, the photographer Aidan Kelly

to see more images and to find out more go here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Wonder of Chekhov

His short stories explore life's mysteries and mundanity in equal measure. James Lasdun celebrates Chekhov on the 150th anniversary of his birth, in The Guardian, earlier this year.
Anton Chekhov, photographed in 1897

The canonised writers of the past have a tendency to assume a fixed expression in their readers' imaginations. Dostoevsky always appears in the same aura of morbidly enthralling hysteria; Proust in the same velvety atmosphere of hyper-attuned sensory receptiveness. To think of Tolstoy is to conjure, at once, the note of impassive grandeur, as of creation being set out in glittering ranks for inspection.

Anton Chekhov, whose short career was as momentous as any of these, has his own distinct tone and manner, but the impression it leaves is curiously elusive, offering reticence and hesitation in place of "personality", and a series of moods rather than a discernible attitude to life, even the attitude of uncertainty.

This elusiveness – a feature of both the life and the work – is a large part of what gives him his enduring fascination, as well as his striking modernity. In Chekhov literature seems to break its wand like Prospero, renouncing the magic of artifice, ceremony and idealisation, and facing us, for the first time, with a reflection of ourselves in our unadorned ordinariness as well as our unfathomable strangeness.

Ordinariness – the social fabric at its most drably functional – was to some extent his birthright. He was born in 1860, in Taganrog, a provincial town on the Sea of Azov. Said to be the shallowest sea on the planet, this minor appendage to the Black Sea shows up a muddy grey on satellite pictures, in contrast to the deep azure of the Black Sea itself. Whether this influenced the muted shading of Chekhov's prose – described by Nabokov as "a tint between the colour of an old fence and that of a low cloud" – history doesn't relate, but the city itself clearly became a key element in his imagination, forming the template for the stultifying provincial backdrops against which so many of his characters act out their dramas of ill-fated defiance or sullen resignation.

His grandfather was a serf who bought his family's freedom. His father, Paul, ran a grocery-cum-general store where Taganrog society congregated to purchase rice, coffee, paraffin, mousetraps, ammonia, penknives and vodka, and were duly cheated by the proprietor. Family lore records an occasion where a drowned rat was found in a cask of cooking oil. Instead of throwing out the oil, Paul had it "sanctified" by a priest, and continued selling it – an ur-Chekhovian episode, complete with a climax that is at once a non-event (business going on as usual), and a pitiless illumination of the father's character. A bullying, fanatically religious man as well as a total failure (he went bankrupt in 1876 and fled to Moscow with the rest of the family, leaving the 16-year-old Anton to fend for himself in Taganrog), the father too becomes a major generative element in his son's imagination. His presence can be felt in Chekhov's stories in the tyrannical father figures of "My Life" and "Three Years" as well as Jacob, the benighted zealot in "The Murder". In a more general sense, his spirit becomes absorbed into what might be called the negative pole in Chekhov's vision of reality: the force of oppression, petty-mindedness and outright cruelty that periodically discharges itself into the stories, sweeping over the characters as a sudden mood of melancholy or pure blackness (like the hallucinated Black Monk in the story of that title), or an impulse of vicious brutality, as in the notorious baby-killing episode of "In the Hollow".

As a human being – a doctor who went out of his way to help the poor and needy – Chekhov was unambiguously repelled by this aspect of life, and many of his better known remarks are either denunciations of it or defences of its opposite, which he identified chiefly as culture, rationality and scientific progress. There is the famous retort to Tolstoy, whom he revered as a novelist but rejected as a teacher: "Reason and justice tell me there's more love for humanity in electricity and steam than in chastity or vegetarianism," while the much-quoted lines from his letter to the poet Alexey Plescheyev are perhaps the clearest articulation of his "beliefs" such as they were: "My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love and absolute freedom – freedom from violence and falsehood, no matter how the last two manifest themselves."

But as an artist, Chekhov is more complicated than these apparently crystalline convictions suggest. Certainly his stories are full of people who espouse views very similar to the above – enlightened misfits, philanthropic gentry, civilised professionals (often doctors like himself) holding a candle for reason, justice and all the rest. But the stories themselves invariably subject this posture to challenges that cast doubt over its relevance, even its basic validity, so that to pin down an authorial point of view becomes impossible. Decency and rationality lead to failure, self-disgust and madness in pieces such as "A Dreary Story" or "Ward Number Six". In "The Princess", as in several other stories that feature do-gooding types, the philanthropic attitude is revealed as a rather nasty form of vanity. Even where it is sincere, it arouses baffling forces of resistance. Consider the well-intentioned couple in "New Villa", an engineer and his wife who settle in a rural spot after the engineer has built a bridge there. As if to extend the physical bridge into a social one, they attempt to befriend their peasant neighbours, only to find themselves opposed by malice and incomprehension at every turn. The bewildering irrationality of their treatment is brought home with gently comic poignancy by the story's ending, where the couple flee, selling their villa to a pompous government clerk who disdains the peasants, and is treated in return with paradoxical civility.

Comedy is of course another key element in Chekhov's imaginative armoury, and a further destabilising factor in the handling of his own "views". However tragic or despicable or exasperating the moralist in him found the world, the writer in him was constantly drawn to its comic variousness and oddity. No other writer has evoked boredom, dreariness, ennui with such richly entertaining specificity. Who but Chekhov could have conceived a story such as "A Hard Case", built around a living embodiment of stifling conventionality in the person of Belikov, who reduces a whole town to his own state of cowering joylessness before the inhabitants finally turn against him? The exorcising of such baleful spirits seems to have been one of the primal drives underlying the production of the 800-odd stories Chekhov left behind: happiness, in his work, almost always occurs against an encroaching darkness that requires constant warding off. In life he was known as an aficionado of jokes, pranks, festivities, the burlesque spirit in general. And his writing career, which he embarked on to make money for his family after his father's bankruptcy (as well as to pay for his own medical studies), began strictly as a comic enterprise: skits, spoofs, "humour pieces" full of daft names and slapstick come uppances, churned out for sale to popular journals.

"Oh, with what trash I began," he remarked later in life, "my god with what trash." Turning away from "trash" seems to have entailed turning away, not from comedy itself, but from a certain conception of what constitutes a "story". The traditional idea, seen at its best in, say, Pushkin's "Queen of Spades", or Maupassant's much maligned "The Necklace", tend ed to rely heavily on contrivance to achieve its effects – ghosts, coincidences, characters suddenly going mad, priceless jewels turning out to be fake, and so on. The aim was to create a high stakes drama in a short space and above all to bring off a surprise ending; the twist in the tail that reverses one's understanding of what has gone before.

While Chekhov never totally abandoned this approach, he discovered early on how to create compelling stories that mirrored – or seemed to mirror – the casual movement of reality itself. In "The Steppe", the first of his stories to be published in a serious literary journal, the artless artistry of his later masterpieces is already substantially evolved. Here, instead of neat twists or morally pointed drama, we have simply the flow of life registering itself on the senses and emotions of a nine-year-old boy as he journeys with his uncle across the Ukrainian steppe.

There are fluctuations of mood, ranging from lyrical delight at the natural beauty of the steppe, to brooding menace as the bully Dymov begins picking on the boy. But rather than pressing these fluctuations into service as steps towards some definitive conflict or revelation, Chekhov traces them purely for their own sake, as events in his protagonist's consciousness. Most writers, having sketched a character like Dymov in such deftly illuminating detail, and built up the hostility between him and the boy with such psychologically precise touches, would have found the temptation to stage a showdown between them irresistible, but Chekhov merely lets the pent energies of the situation disperse into an inconsequentiality that even today – after so many imitators have made the gesture commonplace – feels shockingly true to life.

Meanwhile the comic impulse, ousted from its early role in shaping the structure of the stories, becomes reabsorbed into the grain of the narrative itself, blending in with the other principal tonalities to form the ­characteristic hybrid Chekhovian note, where the tragic and the farcical, the lyrical and the prosaic, the tender and the grotesque are inextricable from each other.

Time and again moments of potential solemnity are deflated by some mundane detail, the effect of which is a kind of constant assertion of the lifelike over the "literary". Gurov, in "A Lady with a Dog", famously responds to Anne's sudden onset of remorse after they consummate their affair, not by attempting to rise to her anguished, high-flown rhetoric, but by cutting himself a slice of watermelon and eating it in silence. Gusev, in the story of that title, dies a death as moving, in its understated way, as any of the great deaths in short fiction, but its pathos is all implicit; the outward detail being noted in precisely the kind of droll, off-kilter manner in which Gusev himself sees things. In death, sewn into a canvas bag, he is described as resembling – of all things – "a carrot or radish – broad at the head and narrow at the base". And in a stunning, unexpected coda that at once makes light of his death and confers on it a curiously sublime apotheosis, the story follows his corpse after it is thrown overboard, noting the reactions of the "delighted" little pilot fish as it sinks past them, observing the shark that "nonchalantly" rips open the bag, and then veering into a passage in which the casual and the cosmic mingle with transcendent strangeness: "Overhead . . . clouds are massing . . . one like a triumphal arch, another like a lion, a third like a pair of scissors."

With its final image, of the sky taking on "tender, joyous, ardent hues for which human speech hardly has a name", Gusev brings us close to the essence of Chekhov; the underlying state of mind that produces the two basic moods of his work – wonder and horror.

Again and again, as emotional pressures mount in his characters, the crisis expresses itself in this state of bewildered disjuncture. Olga, the compulsively loving woman in "Angel", enters it as soon as she finds herself without a mate, describing it in her homely way: "You see an upright bottle, say – or rain, or a peasant in a cart. But what are they for: that bottle, that rain, that peasant? What sense do they make? That you couldn't say . . ." The more intellectual narrator of "My Life" puts it in terms of alienation from his fellow townsfolk: "What kept these sixty-five thousand people going? That's what I couldn't see . . . what our town was and what it did, I had no idea." Sometimes even the inner life becomes a source of mystery. Gusev again, as he learns that he is going to die, experiences a kind of climactic bafflement at his own feelings: "A vague urge disturbs him. He drinks water, but that isn't it. He stretches towards the port-hole and breathes in the hot, dank air, but that isn't it either. He tries to think of home and frost – and it still isn't right."

"You confuse two concepts," Chekhov wrote to his friend AS Suvorin, who had been pressing him to be more definitive in his statements as a writer, "the solution of a problem and its correct presentation. Only the second is incumbent on the artist." The remark is generally taken as a kind of miniature manifesto; a defense of his own highly original, open-ended narrative art. This is valid as far as it goes, but it would be a mistake to regard Chekhov as a purely technical or aesthetic innovator. The radical attentiveness to emotion, the embrace of the trivia and inconsequentiality of daily existence, the fading ellipses as one mood gives way to another, the unpredictable shapes of his stories (ask yourself, as you read them, where they might be going: it's almost always impossible to guess, and yet when you get there it feels inevitable and entirely natural), the endings that "solve" nothing in the conventional sense but do indeed finalise the "correct presentation" of the problem – all this is premised, not on some simple ambition to strike a new note, but on a new way of looking at reality that required new methods to express it. There had been sceptics, agnostics, doubters, questioners of every kind before Chekhov, but perhaps no writer in whom the utter mysteriousness of existence was felt so deeply, or counterpoised by such inexhaustible interest in the teeming variety of forms – human and otherwise – in which it manifests itself. To have found a way of expressing both, with such profligate inventiveness and such apparent ease, was, above all else, the mark of Chekhov's genius; his unsurpassed greatness as a teller of stories.

A new Folio Society edition of Chekhov's stories was published earlier this year. www.foliosociety.com

Friday, August 13, 2010

Abolishing nukes: flicker of hope to global cause

An allied correspondent standing in the rubble in front of the shell of a building that once was a movie theater in Hiroshima, Japan, a month after the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare was dropped by the U.S. on Aug. 6, 1945.
As movement to halt nukes grows, some argue more stability must first be achieved

HIROSHIMA, Japan — In this place where a fearful age was born one fiery instant 65 years ago, the Flame of Peace still flickers on, awaiting the day when the world is rid of nuclear weapons.

Many believe that day may be approaching.

"I saw a light in a dark tunnel," says Emiko Okada, 73. "President Obama said, 'Yes, I can.'"
For her and other "hibakusha," survivors of Hiroshima 1945, abolishing nuclear weapons has been a lifelong crusade. But the cause that Hiroshima never abandoned is now also the cause of a growing movement worldwide, embraced by statesmen in Washington and other capitals, endorsed by old Cold Warriors, promoted by Hollywood, financed by billionaires.
Ordinary people, too, in country after country, want "zero nukes," opinion polls show.

But is it achievable? Can doomsday arms be banished from the face of the Earth? Will man stop reaching for ever more powerful weapons? And, more immediately, will an American president, following his ambassador's unprecedented visit, finally walk this year among the cherry trees, the memorials, the unspeakable memories of Hiroshima?

"The hibakusha say, 'We're getting older and older and we'll soon die.' For them abolition is a kind of dream that should be achieved immediately," says Kazumi Mizumoto, 53, a Hiroshima-born scholar of the nuclear age. "I understand their feelings. But feelings aren't enough."

The strongest feelings are of obligation — to the countless thousands whose ashes lie beneath the burial mound beside the Ota, the tidal river that ebbed and flowed with charred bodies on Aug. 6, 1945, after U.S. airmen dropped a bomb that, in a blinding orange flash, unleashed the atom's unearthly power on an unsuspecting city below.

Read the entire story HERE.
Thanks, Chris

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Greenwich Village Sunday" and "Jazz Is My Religion"
The Roots of Hipsterism

Beatnik double bill, Village Sunday and an excerpt from Jazz Is My Religion. Both short films feature beat poet Ted Joans, a fine wordslinger who never got the recognition he deserved.

Village Sunday is narrated by Jean Shepherd, a New York radio personality who was known for his offbeat humor and Zen-like observations about life.

from DangerousMinds

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth
Tales of the Rat Fink
the documentary is now online

Ed "Big Daddy" Ed Roth was an artist and cartoonist who created the hot-rod icon Rat Fink and other extreme characters. As a custom car builder, Roth was a key figure in Southern California's Kustom Kulture and hot-rod movement of the 1960s.

Lots of kids my age and older dudes were incredibly inspired by this guy. I met him and got a custom air brushed t-shirt from him at the Hot Rod show when it came to the New York Coliseum (which used to be up by Columbus circle here in NYC) back in the late 60's or early 70's. I saw the "Red Baron" there in person as well!

anyway, here's the doc:

Tales of The Rat Fink

(thanks, Luke)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To do this week: look at the night sky, and enjoy the Perseid meteor shower

No matter where on Earth you're reading this blog post, you should be able to look up into the night sky this week and see some beautiful meteor action:
According to the best estimates, in 2010 the Earth is predicted to cut through the densest part of the Perseid stream sometime around 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday. The best window of opportunity to see the shower will be the late-night hours of Wednesday on through the first light of dawn on the morning of Thursday, and then again during the late-night hours of Aug. 12 into the predawn hours of Aug. 13. The Moon, whose bright light almost totally wrecked last year's shower, will have zero impact this year; unlike last year when it was just a few days past full, this year it will be new on Monday, Aug. 9, meaning that there will be absolutely no interference from it at all.
from Xeni at (BoingBoing)

Monday, August 9, 2010

US's Growing Dependence On Foreign Energy

from BoingBoing
A capsule summary of the energy policies of the last 8 US presidents from Michael Milken's presentation at the global conference on “America’s Energy Future.”
* In 1974 with 36.1% of oil from foreign sources, President Richard Nixon said, “At the end of this decade, in the year 1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need.”
* In 1975 with 36.1% of oil from foreign sources, President Gerald Ford said, “We must reduce oil imports by one million barrels per day by the end of this year and by two million barrels per day by the end of 1977.”

* In 1979 with 40.5% of oil from foreign sources, President Jimmy Carter said, “Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 – never.”

* In 1981 with 43.6% of oil from foreign sources, President Ronald Reagan said, “While conservation is worthy in itself, the best answer is to try to make us independent of outside sources to the greatest extent possible for our energy.”

* In 1992 with 47.2% of oil from foreign sources, President George Bush said, “When our administration developed our national energy strategy, three principles guided our policy: reducing our dependence on foreign oil…”

* In 1995 with 49.8% of oil from foreign sources, President Bill Clinton said, “The nation’s growing reliance on imports of oil…threatens the nation’s security…[we] will continue efforts to…enhance domestic energy production.”

* In 2006 with 65.5% of oil from foreign sources, President George W. Bush said, “Breakthroughs…will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.”

* In 2009 with 66.2% of oil from foreign sources, President Barack Obama said, “It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil while building a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs.”

But they get an "A" for effort!

A history of false starts for US energy independence

(Photo by Colin Gregory Palmer / CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Endangered Species Watch: Vegetarian Power Hitters

here's an article from the Human Society from last summer:
Prince Fielder sounds like the name of a baseball player who’s pretty good with the glove. Indeed, the first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers isn’t too bad at scooping up ground balls or pulling a throw out of the dirt. But he’s best known as a terror at the plate—hitting more than .300 with 22 home runs and knocking in 78 runs in the first half of the Major League Baseball season, earning him a place on the National League All-Star roster.

And last night, the 6-foot, 270-pound first baseman cleaned up at the Home Run Derby that is the warm-up act for tonight’s All-Star Game in St. Louis. He won the competition, besting hometown favorite Albert Pujols of the Cardinals, and hitting the longest drive of the night (estimated at more than 500 feet).

He’s also an ethical vegetarian—converted after his wife shared Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin's bestselling book "Skinny Bitch" with him, and he read about the mistreatment of animals in agriculture.

There was speculation that his conversion to vegetarianism would sap his strength—that his wife’s act of giving him "Skinny Bitch" was like Delilah’s cutting off of Samson’s hair. But the fear proved unfounded, and Fielder has quieted the critics with his towering drives.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jelloware: edible, biodegradable, compostable drinking cup concept

Designers at the NYC-based consultancy The Way We See The World created these fun drinking glasses from agar agar (a vegan gelatin alternative made from algae) and cast them in various colors and flavors to compliment corresponding drinks.

Image gallery here. Spotted on PSFK and Treehugger.

Thanks, Xeni at BoingBoing

Friday, August 6, 2010

Abbey Road - live camera

In April 1969, The Beatles came together to record their final album as a group and titled it 'Abbey Road.' This album became their best selling work and featured the now iconic image of the zebra crossing outside the studios on the front cover.

Well besides being my personal favorite Beatles album, the road crossing is the world's most famous pedestrian crosswalk. See live images from the Abbey Road Zebra Crossing. It's pretty cool especially at 4am GMT when i first tuned in, just another fucking street at night. The best quality 24 hour live camera i've ever seen on the net.

Thanks, Presurfer

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yes Men documentary goes online via Bittorrent to evade censorship

from BoingBoing:
Prankster activists The Yes Men are sick of having the videos depicting their shenanigans taken down through copyright complaints, so they've put the latest video, a full-length doc called The Yes Men Fix the World up as a torrent file through VODO, resistant to censorship and easy to get.
VODO's sixth release is the special Peer-To-Peer Edition of the multi-award-winning The Yes Men Fix The World. This edition, made exclusively for VODO, includes exclusive controversial footage of the Yes Men impersonating the United States Chamber of Commerce. The Yes Men are being sued over this action, and see P2P as the best and only way this material will get seen. They're calling for it to be copied as far and wide as possible...
"We have been impersonating people in power in to make political points for over a decade. The Yes Men Fix the World is our second feature film. It's won a bucket of awards and accolades, but we're still broke. We are hoping that people who share it will donate some money so that we can do even more outrageous actions."
The Yes Men Fix The World -- Peer-to-Peer Edition

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"A Whole Scene Going"
Incredible rare TV show from 1965

This is a super rare pilot of A Whole Scene Going, a show for teens that aired on British tv in 1965. This episode features fashion predictions for 1966, advice for young lovers from Lulu, a segment on the up and coming skateboard craze, footage of The Who, and an interview with a very cynical, sarcastic and witty Pete Townshend, pretty heavy actually.

thanks, Mark Campbell, via Dangerous Minds

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pilot ejects an instant before fighterjet crashes

Last week Pilot Capt. Brian Bews ejects as his a CF-18 fighter jet plummets to the ground during a practice flight at the Lethbridge County Airport on Friday, July 23 for the weekend airshow in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. "He is alive and we believe right now that his injuries are non-life-threatening," Canadian Forces Capt. Nicole Meszaros told CBC News.

My Take, what if we could some how convince every single jet fighter pilot in the world to do this tomorrow? That would be cool!

Thanks MSNBC photoblog
photos : Ian Martens / Lethbridge Herald

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Undertones Story with John Peel

A great punk LP you should hear.

After visiting Ireland for the first time I revisited two of my favorite (Irish) bands of the early punk era, Stiff Little Fingers and The Undertones. The Only Time I saw the Undertones I believe was 1979, Harley Flanagan (who was only 12 years old and drumming in The Stimulators at the time), Rob Dellenback, and myself were standing outside Irving Plaza in New York trying to weasel our way in on a guest list or sneak in the back door somehow, but we were having no luck. At the front door we could hear the music as the band came on, we were so bummed we couldn't get in, the show was probably sold out as well. But while standing in the entry not only could we hear them playing upstairs (even though a bit muffled) But we could see the ceiling with a chandelier bouncing up and down as the crowd upstairs enthusiastically pogo'd, it almost made it worse for us, as we begged and pleaded the security guards and door people to please let us in... Eventually, just before the end of the set they let us in, we pushed our way all the way to the front, it was fucking great, we got to see all of our favorite songs at the end of the set and the encore. As usual I did not have my camera, but obviously a show i'd never forget, lot's of simple punk rock fun (being the fervently less political of these two main Irish bands).

So I stumbled upon the rare documentary about the band today and thought i'd share it with you all, the infamous John Peel helps to present the story.

The entire Documentary in 8 parts:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Metzger on Michael Moore's

Here's a great essay from Richard Metzger who I often agree with and quote here on my blog.
Tara and I watched Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story this weekend (it’s on the Netflix VOD currently) and I absolutely loved it. It’s a truly great film, one that I have no doubt will be looked at and revered by future generations trying to understand what the hell happened in our backwards era. I recommend it to everyone who reads this blog and cares about my opinion. It was absolutely spellbinding to me. I felt as if I wanted to cheer several times to see someone say these things and say them so powerfully. Capitalism: A Love Story, or a film just like it, needed to be made. but there is only one guy who could have pulled off something like this, gotten it funded, herded through the distribution system and gotten a message this radical the deep penetration in the culture that it deserves, and it’s Michael Moore.

Surprisingly, Capitalism: A Love Story is perhaps the least polemic of all of Moore’s films, even if it does, at root, articulately advocate the necessity of class warfare, at least at the ballot box. Most of what Moore, or his protagonists, have to say in the film would be damed difficult to refute, perhaps this is why it doesn’t seem as confrontational as Moore’s films often are. You’d have to have a very closed mind to deny the reality of what you see on display here. Even Sean Hannity would have a hard time arguing with any of it (although I doubt he watched or will ever watch Moore’s film)

To say what Michael Moore says in Capitalism: A Love Story took balls and it also took amazing skill as a storyteller, underscoring his Mark Twain-like role in American society. After a mind-numbing section where the audience is introduced to the concept of the so-called “Dead Peasant” life insurance policies some major companies take out on their non-essential employees—unbeknownst to them—where they make more money if the employee dies, he cuts to an interview with Father Dick Preston, the Flint, Michigan-based priest who married Moore and his wife Kathleen Glynn (who interviewed me for a job once, she’s super cool).

He quietly asks the priest if capitalism is evil and what Jesus would think about free enterprise and his answer is devastating. This isn’t some left-wing loony he had to search out, this is the man who married him, the local priest who, like Moore, has witnessed the tragedy and destruction the loss of the auto industry in Flint, Michigan did to their hometown. Both of these men knows what greed does and how and who it harmed. People with first and last names.

And let me tell you, this priest fucking nails it. It’s a powerful, powerful cinematic moment.

Speaking as someone who took ten people on my own 24th birthday to see Roger and Me when it was in theaters—I also released This Divided State on DVD when I was at Disinformation—maybe I’m biased, but do yourself a favor and see this film. Better still, if you watch it and you like it, consider having a screening party at your house and invite 5 or 6 friends over to watch it and discuss it afterwards. It takes two hours to watch and could open the eyes of even a devout redneck Fox News watcher (well, some redneck Fox News watchers) to what’s really going on in this country. It’s not like Glenn Beck is ever going to tell them.

Below is one of the most powerful moments in a film full of them: rare footage taken right after FDR’s final State of the Union address where he lays out the concept of a Second Bill of Rights that would have guaranteed that all Americans have “a useful job, a decent home, adequate health care, and a good education.”

God bless Michael Moore. He’s a great American.

The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it (Yahoo! Finance)

The U.S. Economy Is A Dead Horse And The American People Are Starting To Get Really Pissed Off And Frustrated (Economic Collapse)
from Dangerous Minds (where Metzger is the main Blogger)