Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Johnny Rotten's Tour of London

from Dangerous Minds, I really enjoyed this old bastard ...

This is a wee treat: Johnny Rotten gives a guided tour of London, circa 2009. Full of his usual face-gurning, straightforward honesty and acerbic wit, Mr. Rotten explains his love of London is more to do with its people than the city itself. He also expresses his concern that London, like the the rest of the country is slowly doomed.
“It’s the Americanization of the universe, isn’t it? Sooner or later, Britain will become a shopping mall for American tourists.”
Of course, old men always like to talk about how things were better in their day, and yes, there is an element of this here, but Mr. Rotten’s spikiness and humor keeps things nicely ticking along.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The runaway greenhouse effect, how scary is it?

from National Geographic, via Boing Boing
Robert Kunzig, at National Geographic, interviews climate scientist and author Robert Hansen on the runaway greenhouse effect and its likelihood to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming. "What my results show is that if you put about ten times as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as you would get from burning all the coal, oil, and gas—about 30,000 parts per million—then you could cause a runaway greenhouse today. So burning all the fossil fuels won't give us a runaway greenhouse. However, the consequences will still be dire. It won't sterilize the planet, but it might topple Western civilization. There are no theoretical obstacles to that."

Will Earth's Ocean Boil Away?
Yes—a billion years from now, as the sun gets brighter. But could we make it happen sooner through climate change?

In his book Storms of my Grandchildren, noted climate scientist James Hansen issued the following warning: "[I]f we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty."

Venus has a thick atmosphere that is 96.5 percent carbon dioxide, which keeps its surface at nearly 900°F (482°C). The planet's water boiled off to space long ago. Could that really happen on Earth, which is farther from the sun, and where the CO2 level is just now rising past 400 parts per million?

The key to the argument is a well-documented positive feedback loop. As carbon dioxide warms the planet through the greenhouse effect, more water evaporates from the ocean—which amplifies the warming, because water vapor is a greenhouse gas too. That positive feedback is happening now. Hansen argues that fossil-fuel burning could cause the process to run out of control, vaporizing the entire ocean and sterilizing the planet.

Respected as Hansen is, the argument hasn't convinced climate scientists who specialize in the evolution of planetary atmospheres. During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), 56 million years ago, a huge natural spike in CO2 sent temperatures on Earth soaring—but life went on and the ocean remained intact.

"I think you can say we're still safe against the Venus syndrome," says Raymond Pierrehumbert of the University of Chicago. "If we were going to run away, we'd probably have done it during the PETM."

In the past few years, however, physicists have been training supercomputers on the lowly water molecule, calculating its properties from first principles—and finding that it absorbs more radiation at more wavelengths than they'd realized before. In a paper published this week in Nature Geosciences, those calculations have rippled into a simple climate model. The paper's conclusion contains this slightly unsettling sentence: "The runaway greenhouse may be much easier to initiate than previously thought."

National Geographic asked the lead author, Colin Goldblatt of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, to explain.

In an earlier paper, published just last year, you wrote that "it is unlikely to be possible, even in principle, to trigger a runaway greenhouse."

Yeah—and I was wrong! I was plain wrong then.

What do you say now?

It used to be thought that a runaway greenhouse was not theoretically possible for Earth with its present amount of sunlight. We've shown that, to the contrary, it is theoretically possible. That doesn't mean it's going to happen—but it's theoretically possible.

What changed?

The models we had were underestimating the amount of radiation that would be absorbed in a water-vapor-rich atmosphere.

How does that connect to the runaway greenhouse?

Going back to absolute basics—the surface of the Earth emits radiation, and some of that radiation gets absorbed in the atmosphere by gases like CO2 and water vapor. This means less radiation can get out to space than if there were no greenhouse atmosphere. Or conversely, to get the same amount of radiation out to space to balance the energy you're getting from the sun, the surface needs to be hotter. That's what's happening now: Because we're making the greenhouse effect stronger, the Earth is heating up so it will come back into balance.

Now, if you put enough water vapor in the atmosphere, any radiation from the surface will get absorbed before it gets out to space—all of it, everything. Only the upper part of the atmosphere can emit radiation to space. So it turns out there's a fixed amount of radiation you can emit to space once you have enough water vapor.

It's like if you take a layer of tinted glass—one layer, you'll be able to see through. But if you stack up 10, 20, or 100 layers, you can't see through it.

So the runaway greenhouse effect happens when the amount of incoming solar radiation exceeds this fixed limit?

Exactly. It happens when you absorb more sunlight than you can emit thermal radiation. And what I've shown here, which is new, is that the limit on how much radiation Earth can get out to space is smaller than we previously thought. And the amount of sunlight that will be absorbed in a water-vapor-rich atmosphere is bigger than we previously thought. So the implication for the Earth now is that it is possible to absorb more sunlight than you could emit to space from a water-vapor-rich atmosphere.

But your model does not consider the moderating effect of clouds.

That's correct. You start off with the simplest model you can, and then you build in complexity. We've calculated the maximum amount of sunlight Earth will absorb and the maximum amount of thermal radiation it will emit. So the next step will be to do some modeling with clouds in, which will probably modify the answers.

Clouds reflect sunlight, but if you put them high enough in the atmosphere, they'll also have a greenhouse effect. On Earth today, the reflection effect dominates—clouds overall have a cooling effect.

What does your work say about Hansen's warning?

What my results show is that if you put about ten times as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as you would get from burning all the coal, oil, and gas—about 30,000 parts per million—then you could cause a runaway greenhouse today. So burning all the fossil fuels won't give us a runaway greenhouse. However, the consequences will still be dire. It won't sterilize the planet, but it might topple Western civilization. There are no theoretical obstacles to that.

What does Venus teach us?

Because Venus is nearer the sun, it gets more energy from the sun than we do—it's like standing nearer the campfire. We think Venus experienced this runaway greenhouse early in its history. Venus's past is Earth's future.

The sun increases its luminosity slowly with time. At the beginning of the solar system, the sun was only 70 percent as bright as it is now. It's going to keep getting brighter. Given that the runaway greenhouse happens when there's more solar radiation absorbed than we can emit thermal radiation, it's just going to happen.


In somewhere between half a billion and a billion years.

At the end of your 2012 paper, you suggested we might forestall that by moving Earth's orbit farther from the sun.

I put that in as a little joke—as a little nod to Don Korycansky, an astronomer. When Don first proposed that you could just move the Earth out with gravity assists from asteroids, he ended up on the Daily Show talking about it.

As a species we are technologically adolescent at the moment. If we get through adolescence, if we get through the next couple of hundred years alive, as a mature species who is not screwing up the planet that we live on, and then if you're talking about on timescales of hundreds of millions of years—how are we going to keep our planet alive? Then I think that's the kind of thing you might start to think about.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Incredible Online Gallery of High-Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission

The title sort of gives it away, but did you know that there is an online archive that contains high-resolution film scans from every Apollo mission? The gallery contains all of the incredible photos taken during each of the missions — from Apollo 1 all the way through Apollo 17 — with some 1,000+ photos from Apollo 11 alone. 
 The archive, officially the Apollo Image Gallery, was put together by the Project Apollo Archive by scanning photographs provided by the NASA History Office, Kennedy Space Center and Johnson Space Center.
 Since all of these images were taken by NASA astronauts in the course of duty, they’re all Public Domain and free for you to browse through, download, share and use to your heart’s content.

Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo7 2
Unfortunately, the website can be a bit of a hassle to navigate through — there’s no way to browse image after image in any sort of slide show format — but it’s a relatively small con when you consider the work it took to scan and bring all of these photos under one roof.
From photos taken on the moon and in space, to press release photos and training exercises it’s all there in glorious high-resolution. Here’s a selection of images taken from all of the Apollo missions, complete with descriptions in the captions: 
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo1 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo7 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo8 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo9 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo10 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo11 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo11 2
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo11 3
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo12 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo13 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo14 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo15 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo16 1
Incredible Online Gallery of High Res Film Scans from Every Apollo Mission apollo17 1
 flight to travel beyond low Earth orbit.
These are just some of our favorites that we found while browsing the massive archive. There are literally thousands more where these came from. 
To check out the full gallery for yourself — or if you’d like to see any of the photos we shared above in beautiful high-resolution — head over to the Project Apollo Archive’s image gallery by clicking HERE.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Worst Places To Live In The Universe


When it rains on COROT-7b, it rains rocks.

HD 189773b, 63 light-years away, looks nice and Earthlike. But it's not. It's about 1270 K on its surface and it rains glass. Sideways.

read all about the fucked up places and cherish our own planet a little more after doing so. Here at

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A One-Episode Show With a Lasting Impact on Hip-Hop


from the New York Times


When it comes to hip-hop pioneers, years before MTV rapped, Michael Holman repped.

He first made his mark in the early 1980s as a journalist and filmmaker who documented the emerging urban blend of graffiti, rapping, D.J.-ing and B-boying. He took Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols, to witness Afrika Bambaataa and Jazzy Jay mixing beats at an open-air free-for-all in the maze of brick towers at the Bronx River Houses. That, in turn, inspired the British impresario to have Mr. Holman bring a hip-hop revue to the Ritz in Manhattan to open for Bow Wow Wow.

By 1984, Mr. Holman was the host of “Graffiti Rock,” a nationally syndicated television show that had him presiding over a sea of bobbing Kangol caps and swiftly moving, fat-laced Adidas sneakers, as the likes of Run-DMC had lyrical battles with members of the Treacherous Three, all set against a multicolored aerosol backdrop. People still talk about the show; Polish B-boys copied dance moves step for step. Rappers sampled parts of the show, as the Beastie Boys did on the intro to “Alright, Hear This.”

Mind you, it lasted only one episode.

“That was my tragedy. I was ahead of my time,” Mr. Holman said. “I had ‘trend-heimer’s’ disease. The station managers thought rap was a passing fad. Who knew where this was going to go?”

Actually, he did.

A conversation about pop culture with him crisscrosses the late 20th century, peppered with references to Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fab Five Freddy and the Rock Steady Crew. It is not name-dropping, but a reflection of his wide-ranging interests in painting, music, journalism and film.

Since arriving in New York in the late 1970s, he has been adept at sizing up pop culture. Among his early friends and collaborators in New York was Basquiat, with whom he formed the band Gray. As he became part of the downtown scene, he grew curious about some of the uptown parties he had heard about from people like Fred Brathwaite, who would later gain fame as the host of “Yo! MTV Raps” in 1988.

“When I came downtown, part of the news I was spreading was about this new culture coming out of Harlem and the Bronx,” Fab Five Freddy said. “Michael was one of the first people I met on the scene, and I kind of introduced it to him. And he dove right in.”

Mr. Holman went from writing about the different elements of this early scene, in the East Village Eye and Artforum, to playing a pivotal role in its global spread when he persuaded Mr. McLaren, a British trendsetter, to check out one of Mr. Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation parties at the Bronx River Houses in 1982. Yet when Mr. Holman picked up Mr. McLaren at his Midtown hotel, they almost did not make it to the party.

“Remember the New Romantic movement with pirates and Indians?” Mr. Holman recalled. “Malcolm was dressed like a pirate, with a puffy blouse and these big pantaloons. I thought, there was no way we could go up there with him dressed like that.”

But they did.

“It was like something out of Joseph Conrad,” Mr. Holman said. “There were like 1,000 kids rocking to Bambaataa, and the beats were thumping off the buildings. These were the kids who were too young to go to Studio 54 or a Luther Vandross concert. They were junior high school kids. And Bambaataa had a captive audience.”

That encounter inspired Mr. McLaren to ask Mr. Holman to bring a hip-hop revue to open for Bow Wow Wow at the Ritz, which in turn led to a regular Thursday spot at Negril in the East Village. Two years later, “Graffiti Rock” had its exceedingly brief run.

“That show was seen by so many people who blew up in the ’90s, like Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest,” he said of younger members of his audience, some of whom went on to achieve success. “I knew in my heart when I was putting it together that kids his age, 10, 11, 12, that was the exact target market. He was not only the future, but the future of hip-hop.”

Mr. Holman still thinks the short-lived show has a future, which is why he is raising funds through Kickstarter to finish a 30th anniversary documentary on the making of “Graffiti Rock” and its vision of hip-hop’s various elements of art, music and dance.

He would especially like to remind well-off rappers like Jay-Z, who compares himself to Basquiat on his latest release, that it is not all ancient history.

“There is a part of hip-hop that did not become such a commercial success as rap did,” Mr. Holman said. “The other elements are still somewhat in the shadows of rap. But they’re part of an indigenous New York City culture that needs to be celebrated. We need to return rap to its roots, where it needs to be.”


30th Anniv. release of the first ever Hip Hop TV Show, "Graffiti Rock", & new Hip Hop documentary "Graffiti Rock: The Untold Story"

Thursday, July 25, 2013

THE MONKEES: Complete Un-Aired TV Pilot from 1965

from DangerousMinds
When series creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider shot the un-aired 16mm pilot (something that would now probably be called a “sizzle reel” in show biz lingo) for The Monkees, the Pre-Fab Four weren’t even miming along to their own voices.

It starts off with some charming B&W screen test footage from Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith, then still going by his stage name “Michael Blessing” but credited here as Nesmith. (Micky Dolenz, however was called “Micky Braddock” then, as you can see above)

At 6:14, you can hear Boyce and Hart’s demo version of the show’s theme and a decidedly less colorful opening credit sequence. At 9:23, Boyce and Hart’s demo of “I Wanna Be Free” is heard while the group mime along. At 22:06 you see them and hear Boyce and Hart’s “Let’s Dance On” demo.

It’s (mildly, of course) jarring, to say nothing of the Monkeemobile being a broke-ass old station wagon…

In terms of the plot, it’s one of their typical, Davy with (literally) stars in his eyes over a girl story-lines. The pilot episode was remade properly for the NBC series (with the same pretty blonde actress for Davy to moon over) the following year as “Here Comes The Monkees,” episode #10. Again they used the B&W screen test footage, but at the end this time, and by then the group was at least miming along to their own voices.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Science of Hip Hop with GZA (Part 1)



If you think rap music is just about violence, then you’re about to have your preconceptions shattered. Columbia Asst. Professor of Science Education and hip hop culture expert Dr. Christopher Emdin joins Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice to explain how he uses rap to connect inner city youth to science. For instance, Chris says that Kanye West’s use of bullet sounds in a song can teach kids the physics of the Doppler Effect. But the soul of the episode comes from Neil’s interview with rapper GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. They explore science as a creative muse, and GZA talks about the difference between how he thinks of his music and how fans relate to albums like Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). GZA talks about growing up in the ‘hood and how violence often is a choice. Part 1 ends with Neil and The Genius spitting a cosmic verse together, leaving us hanging for Part 2 next week.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Snow and Arctic sea ice extent plummet suddenly as globe bakes

from The Washington Post

Temperature difference from average during June around the globe (NASA)

NOAA and NASA both ranked June 2013 among the top five warmest (NOAA fifth warmest, NASA second warmest) Junes on record globally (dating back to the late 1800s). But, more remarkable, was the incredible snow melt that preceded the toasty month and the sudden loss of Arctic sea ice that followed.

NH snow cover extent difference from average April to May (NOAA)

The amazing decline in Northern Hemisphere snow cover during May is a story few have told, but is certainly worth noting. In April, hefty Northern Hemisphere snow cover ranked 9th highest on record (dating back to 1967), but then turned scant, plummeting to third lowest on record during May. Half of the existing snow melted away.

“This is likely one of the most rapid shifts in near opposite extremes on record, if not the largest from April to May,” said climatologist David Robinson, who runs Rutgers University Global Snow Lab.

The snow extent shrunk from 12.4 million square miles to 6.2 million square miles in a month’s time. By June, just 2.3 million square miles of snow remained in the Northern Hemisphere (a decline of 63 percent from May), third lowest on record.

“In recent years it hasn’t seemed that unusual to have average or even above average winter snow extent rapidly diminish to below average values come spring,” Robinson said.

Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover is in the midst of long-term free fall, similar to its relative, summer Arctic sea ice extent.

You may recall, late last summer the Arctic sea ice extent dropped to its lowest level on record, 49 percent below the 1979-2000 average.

Temperature difference from normal over the high latitude Northern Hemisphere over first 10 days of July (National Snow and Ice Data Center)

It’s not clear if 2013 levels will match 2012′s astonishing record low, but – with temperatures over the Arctic Ocean 1-3 degrees above average – the 2013 melt season has picked up in earnest during July.

“During the first two weeks of July, ice extent declined at a rate of 132,000 square kilometers (51,000 square miles) per day. This was 61% faster than the average rate of decline over the period 1981 to 2010 of 82,000 square kilometers (32,000 square miles) per day,” the National Snow and Ice Data Center writes on its website.

Despite this rapid ice loss, the current mid-July 2013 sea ice extent is greater than 2012 at the same time by about 208,000 square miles NSIDC says.

2013 sea ice extent (blue line) compared to average (black line) and record (dahsed green line). (National Snow and Ice Data Center)

Will 2013 close the gap? That depends on the weather, as the Arctic Sea Ice blog explains:

….the amount of easy-to-melt ice is starting to run out. Even though this year’s ice pack consists of a record amount of first-year ice [which melts most readily], the weather still plays an important role. . . .

. . . there’s no telling what could happen if the weather is very conducive to melting/compacting/transport for a week or two….

Jason Samenow is the Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist and serves as the Washington Post's Weather Editor. He earned BA and MS degrees in atmospheric science from the University of Virginia and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

check out all the graphs here at the original post in the Washington Post

Monday, July 22, 2013

"SeaWorld, ‘Blackfish’ and the Corporate Abuse of Captive Whales"

Big Marine Parks are Abusing Orcas… Here’s Why We Need to Evolve and Stop Enslaving Marine Mammals

by Amy Nicole from

At the end of the SeaWorld show, the crowd leaves and goes home. The trainers get into their street clothes, jump into their cars and drive home to friends and family. But Tilikum the orca, and others like him, cannot go home. Tilikum is left alone, floating motionless in a silent, barren, chemically treated concrete tank very far from home, perhaps looking up at the moon and feeling its tidal pull, perhaps dreaming of his family and what it would be like to swim and swim, without any walls or barriers. When the sun comes up, though, he will still be there. And when you’ve finished reading this, he will still be there.

Tilikum is an orca, or killer whale, that was captured in wild Icelandic waters in 1983 at age two. After being brutally taken from his matrilineal family group, Tilikum was sent to live in a sea park in British Columbia, Canada. There, a trainer accidentally fell into the tank Tilikum shared with two other orcas and was “tossed about” by the three killer whales, until her corpse was recovered by park staff. Tilikum was then shipped to Sea World in Orlando Florida, where he has remained, being forced to perform circus tricks for crowds and routinely having his sperm “harvested” for the park’s breeding purposes.

The Orcinus orca (genus name meaning “kingdom of the dead”) is actually part of the oceanic dolphin family, and is made up of the three subspecies: resident, transient and offshore. Residents are fish eating whales that stay with their mothers for life, in tightly knit family groups called matrilines. They gather with close family members in “pods”, which are four to five matrilines combined. “Clans” consist of a few pods combined, and “communities” are a group of clans. Resident killer whales never stray from their social structures and will only mate with individuals from different pods. Their vocalizations are complex and family specific, and share little with transient whales who eat marine mammals and have a completely different social structure, dialect and culture. 2 million years ago these subspecies parted ways, and genetic data shows that although residents and transients live in the same areas, they avoid each other, and have not interbred for 10,000 years.

That is, until the SeaWorld theme park decided they would take the sperm of a transient whale and artificially inseminate a resident whale. The resulting births were difficult. One mother refused to feed her baby and became aggressive with trainers and other whales. Another died while giving birth in a painful twenty-four hour labor. She was only twenty years of age, and this was her fourth calf, something unheard of in the wild, as resident whales only start reproducing at age fifteen, and spend up to five years with each calf.

Orcas normally swim up to 100 miles per day in the open ocean, spending most of that time with their families. In captivity they spend most of their time totally alone or grouped with unfamiliar whales with whom they share no ancestral, social or vocal similarities. The acoustically dead tanks are prison-like, and many orcas lash out and ram each other, as Kandu V did in 1989 at SeaWorld California, severing an artery in the process. She bled to death in front of the audience for 45 minutes, spraying blood out of her blowhole. It was the 4,332nd day of her captivity in a tank.

Nobody is This Stupid… Right?

I remember going to SeaWorld in Florida when I was a kid. I was initially excited to see the animals, but the shows seemed sad to me. It felt corny, canned and overdone. “Nobody is this stupid,” I thought, “especially the whales.” I could feel that even as an eight year old. Yet after decades of the orca’s documented physical, mental and emotional suffering, humans still insist on keeping and breeding killer whales in tanks to entertain ourselves. One must ask the question: Why? Why is it that the most fundamentally offensive and obscene ideas still persist in a culture that fancies itself sophisticated, scientifically advanced and fair?

These great beasts break their teeth trying to chew through crude metal grates we put up to keep them trapped. Their teeth are then drilled through to remove the rotten portions. Their mouths are washed out three times a day to prevent bacterial infections. Antibiotics are hidden in their frozen food rations. Many of them get the infections anyway and die. But we’re sophisticated, scientifically advanced and fair enough to have whale cum on reserve, that we gathered without their permission so that we can create new inbred whales for new monstrous “shows.”

And, oh, what shows they are. Seizure inducing lights, screaming guitar solos, and armies of trainers withholding food until the right tricks are performed on cue with the cymbal crash… that’s not an accurate portrait of ocean life. There’s something very wrong here if we as a species are just now getting around to realizing this is shameful. It illustrates, again, just how deep our species-ism is. How low we’ve sunk in the race to the bottom.

In Indonesia and the Philippines, people catch dolphins, put them into small tanks in pick-up trucks and drive them to parking lots as displays for the on-looking humans. The majority of the dolphins die from the shock. One particular story recounted how a dolphin gave birth in such a parking lot tank, and both parent and baby died. The people then went back to the ocean to kidnap another unlucky dolphin. We hear a story like this and are disgusted, yet we allow places like SeaWorld, Seaquarium or Marineland to exist. Why? Because they have fancier tanks? Fancier lights, seats and memorabilia? Or is it just better PR?

The Loneliest Whale in the World

Lolita was captured on a tragic day off the coast of Washington state in 1970. Workers from that incident recount crying as the screaming baby whales were lifted out of the ocean for the last time. One mother and four other adolescents drowned trying to free themselves from the nets and bomb blasts. The workers were told to slice them open, fill their bodies with rocks and anchors and sink them, disposing of the evidence. Miraculously, their bodies washed ashore months later. The public was outraged, but the Miami Seaquarium was happy to show off their live catch: southern resident killer whale Lolita and a male southern resident named Hugo, who was captured earlier. Since they were from the same family, they began calling to each other from their tanks, and were eventually put together. They became close mates, but Hugo would often ram the windows and walls of the pool out of frustration. After ten years he finally killed himself in this manner, trying to escape his prison cell.

Lolita, who was found bumping up against his lifeless body, was forced to perform the very next day. She has been alone ever since, and is now forty-two. Her pool is only twenty feet deep; yet she is twenty-two feet long, so her tail drags on the bottom of the tank when popping up to eat fish. Her mother and pod members who share her same dialect are still alive off the Washington coast, and have been awarded endangered species status. Lolita was omitted from this ruling, and there are lawsuits raging to free her. She has been called the loneliest whale in the world.

Due to his infamous 2010 attack on late trainer Dawn Brancheau, Tilikum was relegated to solitary confinement as well. SeaWorld claims he “got confused” and pulled her pony tail underwater, mistaking it for a toy. But Tilikum’s toys were all plastic, and Dawn didn’t merely drown: her scalp was ripped off, along with her left arm, and her vertebrae were snapped. Orcas have an instinct to hunt and kill, and they are being driven mad in these gaudy sea circuses.

A year after the incident, Tilikum was living each day isolated from the other whales, completely without toys, stimulation, or even a sunshade; he was seen listlessly bobbing for ten hours in a tank. As the “Believe” show went on without him, he floated by the gate of his pool looking out towards the other whales who were leaping and cavorting for fish. Although Tilikum may never get to go fully back to the wild due to his damaged teeth, he could clearly be released to a coastal sea pen that would allow some sort of semblance of normalcy. Yet the theme park refuses to retire him, preferring instead to extract his sperm for future captive cetaceans. This magnificent beast, 12,000 pound Tilikum, has been thrown under the bus by SeaWorld.

There are many other killer whales SeaWorld keeps hostage, knowing their pods still exist and they could go home. Release or rehabilitation is the only answer a sane, sophisticated and fair society should accept. Research has shown that female orcas can live up to ninety years in the wild, the males around sixty. Yet in captivity the average lifespan is less than twenty years, in some cases less than ten. Drs. Jett and Ventre, former SeaWorld trainers, assert, “a review of the scientific literature suggests that very little new knowledge is being generated as a result of orca captivity… The time has come to evolve beyond keeping killer whales confined in small, unnatural spaces, purely for entertainment purposes.”

In fact, things are looking quite grim for the marine theme park industry today: numerous trainer attacks and deaths, negative press, OSHA rulings, USDA-APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) reports, and damning evidence from whistleblowers have all lined up against the sea circuses. In addition, numerous high profile documentaries (one, Lolita: Slave to Entertainment, on Lolita’s plight, and the other, Blackfish, are set to reveal more about Tilikum) have shown the world the slimy underbelly of marine mammal captivity. Even India has recently banned travelling dolphin shows. Public awareness is at a tipping point, and eco tours are allowing people the chance to see killer whales in the oceans of the world.

When a recording of a whale pod was played to captive members of that same pod, they all stopped moving in their tanks. The squeaks and calls, clicks and whistles were spelling out specific things for these whales. We have no idea what they felt when hearing their ancient dialect sung, but these hostages probably felt what other hostages have felt when seeing a video or hearing a tape of their loved ones.

Imagine you’re walking with your family in a park, when suddenly a UFO appears and brutally kidnaps you. Some of your family dies in the attack. You’re left wondering if these aliens are going to kill you. Instead, they put you in a mock up of a park, about the size of a room, and force you to do various physical tricks that you would normally do when playing with your family in a park. Over and over, for decades, you live like this while other aliens come to watch, sometimes to dine, sometimes buying stuffed dolls made in your visage. Sometimes they bring in other humans, but rarely do you speak the same language or get along. They take your sperm and make babies that you will never see, but that you know exist. If you had the chance, you could maybe break out—somehow get back home. You walk around your “park” day and night, dreaming of your home and lost family. Sometimes you catch a glimpse of the moon.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

X - The Unheard Music (Documentary)

X: The Unheard Music takes long, detailed, and often funny look at the Los Angeles music scene of the late '70s and '80s and focuses on the group that critics deigned the leader of the underground pack. X: The Unheard Music combines live footage of the band and interviews with the four members (as well as their friends and families) with surreal music videos and montages of newsreel footage and vintage television commercials which help to illustrate the band's uphill struggle against the music industry. Their story rings true even today.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's Fucking Hot Here in New York

In 1969, Life magazine captured both the energy and the misery of a hot summer day in the city.
Here's some of the 31 Photos Of New York City In The Summer Of ‘69 found on Buzzfeed


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013