Anil Dash: Your April Fool's Day Joke Continues to Suck:
Having been blogging for a few years, I've developed a few annual traditions. This one's a favorite: Warning you off of lame April Fool's jokes on the web. Every year, I get called a curmudgeon, or lambasted for having no sense of humor. And every year, the jokes online get lamer and lamer.
I'd mentioned that Your April Fool's Day Joke Sucks two years ago, revisited the idea last year, and have been proud to have been joined in my assessment by luminaries such as Joshua Schachter and Andy Baio in taking a critical eye at this sort of thing.
The exception, of course, is if you're doing something truly hysterical or on a magnificent scale. But I fear we won't run into too many of those.
Playbill News: Daisey's The Moon Is a Dead World Featured in Soho Rep Readings:
The tenth season of Soho Rep's Writer/Director Lab Readings will commence with monologist Mike Daisey's The Moon Is a Dead World April 7.
Each year Soho Rep commissions six playwrights to collaborate with directors to create an original project. The teams work for nine months on their projects, which are then presented in a series of free readings to the public in April and May.
The 2008-2009 schedule includes theatrical activist and monologist Daisey's The Moon Is a Dead World, under the direction of Maria Goyanes, April 7.
Cash-strapped Clinton fails to pay bills - Kenneth P. Vogel - Politico.com:
The New York senator’s presidential campaign ended February with $33 million in the bank, according to a report filed last week with the Federal Election Commission, but only $11 million of that can be spent on her battle with Obama.
The rest can be spent only in the general election, if she makes it that far, and must be returned if she doesn’t. If she had paid off the $8.7 million in unpaid bills she reported as debt and had not loaned her campaign $5 million, she would have been nearly $3 million in the red at the end of February.
By contrast, if you subtract Obama’s $625,000 in debts and his general-election-only money from his total cash on hand at the end of last month, he’d still be left with $31 million.
The News Business: Out of Print: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker:
Newspaper companies are losing advertisers, readers, market value, and, in some cases, their sense of mission at a pace that would have been barely imaginable just four years ago. Bill Keller, the executive editor of the Times, said recently in a speech in London, “At places where editors and publishers gather, the mood these days is funereal. Editors ask one another, ‘How are you?,’ in that sober tone one employs with friends who have just emerged from rehab or a messy divorce.” Keller’s speech appeared on the Web site of its sponsor, the Guardian, under the headline “NOT DEAD YET.”
Perhaps not, but trends in circulation and advertising––the rise of the Internet, which has made the daily newspaper look slow and unresponsive; the advent of Craigslist, which is wiping out classified advertising––have created a palpable sense of doom. Independent, publicly traded American newspapers have lost forty-two per cent of their market value in the past three years, according to the media entrepreneur Alan Mutter.
When a Brain Scientist Suffers a Stroke - Well - Tara Parker-Pope - Health - New York Times Blog:
On a December morning in 1996, Dr. Taylor woke up with searing pain behind her left eye, the beginnings of a hemorrhagic stroke. As the left side of her brain shut down, she began to feel disconnected from her body and entered an almost-euphoric like state. It took her a while to make sense of the experience, but as her right arm became paralyzed, it dawned on her that she was having a stroke.
“How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?,'’ she said. “In the course of four hours, I watched my brain completely deteriorate in its ability to process all information. On the morning of the hemorrhage, I could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any of my life.'’
Her account of the experience of stroke is vivid, and at one point, she recalled, she felt like someone had taken a remote control and hit the mute button. “I was shocked to find myself inside a silent mind,'’ she said.
What is so surprising about Dr. Taylor’s story is that she experienced a sort of euphoria as she was left with only right-brain functions. She lost her sense of self, but she also shed the stress of her life and, as she puts it, “37 years of emotional baggage.'’
Mike Daisey: 'Monopoly!' - Los Angeles Times - calendarlive.com:
IN his 12 years as a monologuist, Mike Daisey has drawn comparisons to the likes of David Sedaris and the late Spalding Gray for his often humorous, often controversial, always thought-provoking solo performances.
But he's attracted some more creative associations as well, such as "a cross between Noam Chomsky and Jack Black," "Jackie Gleason meets Kafka" (his favorite) and . . .
" . . . the love child of Chris Farley and Susan Sontag," says Daisey with a laugh. "You know they're trying to say something nice, but oh, God, it sounds horrible!"
Southern California can make its own comparisons starting Friday, when Daisey presents his one-man show "Monopoly!" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Touching upon inventor Nikola Tesla, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, the titular board game and his own experiences, Daisey weaves many shades of corporate rule into a vibrant extemporaneous narrative.
WHEN REHEARSALS GO UNDERGROUND - New York Post:
Since January, the empty vaults have been serving as rehearsal space for live theater productions, musical groups, writers and multimedia performers - all of whom find themselves plying their art in a neighborhood far more famous for commerce than culture.
"I didn't even notice the artists working in the building until one day I saw a guy in a leotard walking through the lobby," says Daniel Ghadamian, a partner at Capstone Equities, which purchased the landmark building last year.
While renovating and leasing the 37 above-ground floors, Capstone agreed to donate the vault space on a month-by-month basis to the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Swing Space program. The LMCC then offered the free rehearsal space to local artists, who have found themselves working in vast windowless tombs designed more for the security of currency than the comfort of creative souls.
Why Old Technologies Are Still Kicking - New York Times:
IN 1991, Stewart Alsop, the editor of InfoWorld and a thoughtful observer of industry trends, predicted that the last mainframe computer would be unplugged by 1996. Last month, I.B.M. introduced the latest version of its mainframe, the aged yet remarkably resilient warhorse of computing.
Today, mainframe sales are a tiny fraction of the personal computer market. But with the mainframe facing extinction, I.B.M. retooled the technology, cut prices and revamped its strategy. A result is that mainframe technology — hardware, software and services — remains a large and lucrative business for I.B.M., and mainframes are still the back-office engines behind the world’s financial markets and much of global commerce.
The mainframe stands as a telling case in the larger story of survivor technologies and markets. The demise of the old technology is confidently predicted, and indeed it may lose ground to the insurgent, as mainframes did to the personal computer. But the old technology or business often finds a sustainable, profitable life. Television, for example, was supposed to kill radio, and movies, for that matter. Cars, trucks and planes spelled the death of railways. A current death-knell forecast is that the Web will kill print media.
What are the common traits of survivor technologies?
Sequenza21/ » Metropolis Ensemble April Concert at NYC Times Center:
Metropolis Ensemble, New York’s premier professional chamber orchestra dedicated to emerging a new generation of composers and performers, springs into the new season with a one-night only concert of 20th century masterpieces at the Times Center (242 West 41st Street), Thursday, April 10th @ 8:00pm. Led by Artistic Director/Conductor Andrew Cyr, the concert is soaked by special guest artists including pianist Anna Polonsky who spearheads the world premiere of Piano Concerto by young composer Ryan Francis. Complementing the program is a dramatic series of three diverse modern works that reveal an unfolding vista of color and sensual imagery including Maurice Ravel’s Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Five Images from Sappho with soprano Kiera Duffy, and Erik Satie’s Sports et Divertissements, 20 brilliant sketches in a newly commissioned arrangement by London-based composer David Bruce for chamber orchestra and narrator/spoken word artist Mike Daisey.
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:
Jeremiah Wright is now the moral equivalent of David Duke? The latest Clintonite ratchets up the Wright issue still further. However dim a view you take of some of Wright's rhetorical excesses, and I'm not defending them, to compare a man whose church has such a long history of social work, black self-help, outreach to people with HIV, and inclusion of gay people to a rank neo-Nazi is another step too far. Comparing the first potential black president's pastor to a man who represents some of the worst racism in America is also bound to impact African-Americans. If the Clintons keep this up, they will not only destroy Obama's chances in the fall, they may also make it very hard for black Democrats to vote for a Clinton again. Josh comments here. I think Clinton has decided to use race in the way that Republicans have for the past couple of decades, to play on white resentment of what are regarded as double-standards on race and to fuse the integrative, dignified campaign of Obama in the minds of some white ethnic Americans with demagoguic soundbites from Wright.
The goal is to win a huge margin in Pennsylvania and to use that as an appeal to the super-delegates that Obama cannot be elected in key swing states with white working class voters. If that won't work, Clinton will have done all she can to ensure Obama's defeat by McCain in the fall, which she will then use as vindication for another run in 2012.
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Airline Travelers’ Bill of Rights Overturned on Appeal. You Will Stay in Your Seat and Like It, Hear? -- Daily Intel -- New York News Blog -- New York Magazine:
We should all just go back to riding around on donkeys, honestly. A New York appellate court has rejected the state's right to penalize airlines for not giving enough fresh air or water to passengers stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours. Also rejected? Mandatory working restrooms and power. Does anyone remember the days when flying was glamorous and flight attendants had stylish lives everyone envied? Did anyone watch Catch Me If You Can with an anthropological curiosity appropriate to studying oh, say, the Mayans? Nowadays most people would rather test out their caskets than sit in the middle seat in coach.
Parabasis: More of the Corporatizing of the Nonprofit Model:
Mark Armstrong brings to our attention an interesting article by Charles McNulty which documents how Jack O'Brien was succeeded at the Old Globe by a CEO and (working underneath him) two artistic director. CEO/Executive Producer Spisto has final artistic say in programming at the Old Globe.
The great dream of regional theater was that it was going to give artists the tools necessary to do their work and run their own businesses. But, when times get tough, the first things to go are always those pesky artists. First it was the repertory companies, then the resident directors and designers. Now the artistic directors are being moved aside or diminished, unless their commercial credentials are sufficient.
Mike Daisey discusses in How Theater Failed America the corporate model of theatrical governance and how the adoption of corporate values (constant growth over sustainability, downsizes and outsourcing of labor, etc) has hurt the regional theater movement. This is all of a piece with what Mark and Charles are talking about here, with the adoption of a CEO model of corporate governance.
Pay What You Want (Theatreforte):
Available Light is opening Sheila Callaghan's Dead City here in Columbus in about 2 weeks. This show is a really big deal for us. Aside from being a beautiful play that we're all really excited about, it's also our first show to receive significant public funding, it has the largest cast we've put on stage, and it's in a space that's costing us about 3 times what we usually pay. (Frequent readers of this blog will remember that I am very ambivalent about that particular fact.)
However, instead responding by playing it safe on other fronts to compensate for the big risks we're taking, we've decided to try another big experiment. We're making all tickets to all shows for everyone all the time "Pay What You Want". That's right, just like Radiohead,Trent Reznor, Saul Williams, Paste Magazine, and a small crop of restaurants.
Slashdot | The Arthur C. Clarke Gamma Ray Burst:
Larry Sessions, a columnist for Earth & Sky, has suggested in his blog that the gamma-ray event whose radiation reached us a few hours before Arthur C. Clarke died, and which occurred 7.5 billion years ago, be named the Clarke Event. The outburst, whick produced enough visible light to render it a naked-eye object across half the universe, is officially designated GRB 080319B. What more fitting tribute to Clarke than to associate his name with the greatest bang since the big one? Sessions suggests writing to any astronomers, heads of physics departments, or planetarium operators you know and talking up the proposal.
Ah, the pleasures of the County and the Valley, my homeland in Northern Maine:
What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates | Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report | ZDNet.com:
So I was stunned and angry when I saw Apple Software Update pop up on her PC last week. There were no updates for iTunes or QuickTime, the two Apple programs I installed for her. Instead, using the same mechanism that delivers security updates, Apple Software Update was offering Safari 3.1 for Windows, with the check box obligingly selected and the Install button awaiting her click.
For the record, I think Apple is dead wrong in the way it’s gone about using its iPod monopoly to expand its share in another market. Ironically, an excellent model for how this update program should work already exists. It’s called Windows Update, and it embodies all the principles that Apple should follow.
Pig bladder powder regrows human finger - Boing Boing:
A man cut off his finger tip while working on a model plane. His brother, a medical research scientist, sent him a vial containing powdered pig bladder and told him to sprinkle on the severed finger tip. It grew back -- "flesh, blood, vessels and nail" -- in four weeks.
That powder is a substance made from pig bladders called extracellular matrix. It is a mix of protein and connective tissue surgeons often use to repair tendons and it holds some of the secrets behind the emerging new science of regenerative medicine.
"It tells the body, start that process of tissue regrowth," said Badylak.
Badlayk is one of the many scientists who now believe every tissue in the body has cells which are capable of regeneration. All scientists have to do is find enough of those cells and "direct" them to grow.
Oregon man's property ransacked after Craigslist hoax:
A pair of hoax ads on Craigslist cost an Oregon man much of what he owned.
The ads popped up Saturday afternoon, saying the owner of a Jacksonville home was forced to leave the area suddenly and his belongings, including a horse, were free for the taking, said Jackson County sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan.
But Robert Salisbury had no plans to leave. The independent contractor was at Emigrant Lake when he got a call from a woman who had stopped by his house to claim his horse.
On his way home he stopped a truck loaded down with his work ladders, lawn mower and weed eater.
"I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back," Salisbury said. "They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did."
The driver sped away after rebuking Salisbury. On his way home he spotted other cars filled with his belongings.
Once home he was greeted by close to 30 people rummaging through his barn and front porch.
The trespassers, armed with printouts of the ad, tried to brush him off. "They honestly thought that because it appeared on the Internet it was true," Salisbury said. "It boggles the mind."
Technical Direction Tidbits: Thoughts from USITT:
It seemed like a lot of the people I talked to at the conference was interested in getting out of the traditional theatre. The reasons all were very similar, and not surprisingly. They centered on time and money. Student loans are costly, and after all the education (and theatre / entertainment technology is an over-educated field) you need a certain level of job to be able to pay back loans. Every theatre wants an MFA applicant – but no-one wants to pay the necessary salary, particularly for a recent grad. The jobs out there that do pay well enough to live on tend to have people in the position that aren’t going anywhere soon – but, I think in about 10 years there are going to be a wealth of great positions opening up – from all of these people retiring. Theatre used to be a place where you paid your dues, worked for practically nothing and worked your way up. Sure some went to school, and thus tended to enter in a higher position. But then more and more went to school, then you had to get an MFA to distinguish yourself. Soon, the MFA will be only the starting point. And by that point you’ve invested way too much money to take a low paying job. Thus people are looking at commercial scene shops, selling products, cruise ships, and academia so they can pay their loans. The few positions in LORT theatres that pay well they can’t get because they don’t have enough practical experience. They have paid some dues, but not in the places they historically needed to pay dues. So it’s an odd situation.
One of the things it means is that theatre is going to have to pay better to retain the best individuals in the theatre. This is something that I have already seen to a certain extent. And, truthfully, I have been able to make a decent living in theatre. Even in some of the smaller places I have worked, because often perks such as subsidized housing leave money in my pocket that wouldn’t have been otherwise. But, on the flip side, is the fact that there will always be people who are motivated by the art, who believe that the lack of pay is okay, and that are willing to make the sacrifice to pay their dues. So when you have 1 person who won’t work for x amount of money, you still have someone else who will –albeit, probably less qualified. But that also goes back to the point that every TD doesn’t have to have an MFA.
Greg Palast likes to read in the loo. He says he wrote his book with that habit in mind—so that any casual bathroom reader could pick it up, skim around and still glean some bit of knowledge. And so, wanting to experience the shiny new hardback with the truest of intentions, I took his advice and settled down a few weeks ago, volume in hand, ready to flip casually through its pages to discover one of today’s most honest forms of truth to power. It did not disappoint.
Who is Greg Palast? If you were playing a round of “Jeopardy,” it would be the answer to the square for $1,000: “The most relevant investigative journalist of our time.” At least that’s what some of us think.
The more straightforward answer is this: Greg Palast grew up in a Los Angeles house pivoted between a landfill and a power plant; studied economics at the University of Chicago under the guidance of Milton Friedman; worked in New Mexico two decades ago as an investigator in the Attorney General’s Office; went on to become a reporter for BBC television, Guardian, Observer and Harper’s Magazine; is the author of three books, including a New York Times bestseller; and exposed the stories of the 2000 Florida election debacle and the oil company frauds that let to the grounding of the Exxon Valdez, among others.
Vanishing Varnish: Kids Invent Vanishing Nail Polish to Dodge School Rules:
What would you do if your school's ban on makeup meant you couldn't show off your nail art? You'd get your chemistry set out and invent a new UV-reactive polish that was near-invisible indoors, but was bright and colorful when you're outside lessons, wouldn't you? Well, you would if you were a group of students in Salford in the UK.
Even at Megastores, Hagglers Find No Price Is Set in Stone - New York Times:
Shoppers are discovering an upside to the down economy. They are getting price breaks by reviving an age-old retail strategy: haggling.
A bargaining culture once confined largely to car showrooms and jewelry stores is taking root in major stores like Best Buy, Circuit City and Home Depot, as well as mom-and-pop operations.
Savvy consumers, empowered by the Internet and encouraged by a slowing economy, are finding that they can dicker on prices, not just on clearance items or big-ticket products like televisions but also on lower-cost goods like cameras, audio speakers, couches, rugs and even clothing.
The change is not particularly overt, and most store policies on bargaining are informal. Some major retailers, however, are quietly telling their salespeople that negotiating is acceptable.
In the age of ebooks, you don't own your library - Boing Boing:
Reporting on a Science and Technology Law Review article about copyright and ebooks, Gizmodo's Matt Buchanan has written a great piece on the way that hardware ebook readers (Kindle, Sony Reader) run on stores that only license -- instead of selling -- books to you, even though they encourage you to think of the books as a purchase, saying things like "buy it now for the Kindle!" Books that you own can be loaned, re-sold and given away, and the ongoing health of the book trade and reading itself relies on this -- how many of your favorite writers did you discover at a used bookstore, or when a friend passed you a copy of a book?
It's funny that in the name of protecting "intellectual property," big media companies are willing to do such violence to the idea of real property -- arguing that since everything we own, from our t-shirts to our cars to our ebooks, embody someone's copyright, patent and trademark, that we're basically just tenant farmers, living on the land of our gracious masters who've seen fit to give us a lease on our homes.
Nightmarish...worst campaign video I've seen yet, and there have been some mind-burningly terrible ones.
YOU CAN'T LOOK AWAY!
Story behind the story: The Clinton myth - Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen - Politico.com:
Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.
People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.
As it happens, many people inside Clinton’s campaign live right here on Earth. One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.
In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe.
Story Behind the Story
Why news gets covered the way it does
Politico’s top editors draw on their experience at the nation's largest news organizations to pull back the curtain on coverage decisions and the media mindset.
The real question is why so many people are playing. The answer has more to do with media psychology than with practical politics.
Abu Ghraib: Online Only: The New Yorker:
This week in the magazine, Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris write about Sabrina Harman, a U.S. Army specialist who took photographs at Abu Ghraib and was convicted by court-martial for her conduct there. Harman sat for nine hours of interviews with Morris for his movie “Standard Operating Procedure.” Here are excerpts from those interviews and a clip from the film, as well as video of Morris and Gourevitch from the 2007 New Yorker Festival, and photographs of Harman and of the abuses at Abu Ghraib.
Selling Lauren Conrad - WSJ.com:
To keep themselves in the spotlight, Ms. Conrad and her contemporaries are willing citizens of a tabloid world. During a recent breakfast interview at an outdoor café in Los Angeles, Ms. Conrad said she suspected a photographer was taking pictures of her from across the street. She declined to move to an inside table. Instead, she looked left and right before taking quick bites of her egg whites. "No one eats pretty," she said.
Less than three hours later, Ms. Conrad sent her breakfast companion an email with a photo attached of her enjoying her eggs. She had found the photo after a Google search. "Haha they always get it!" she wrote.
Absurd Entries in the OED: An Introduction To Ammon Shea : OUPblog:
In the category of Blatant Disregard, the past editors of the OED had seemingly come to the conclusion that since they sat around all day reading about words, accruing a monstrous knowledge of vocabulary, their readers must have done the same, and therefore it was not necessary to talk down to anyone with the definition. For instance trondhjemite is defined as ‘Any leucocratic tonalite, esp. one in which the plagioclase is oligoclase’. I have my doubts as to whether anyone has ever thought to themselves ‘I wonder what trondhjemite means?’ But if someone did, and went to look it up in the OED, it seems unlikely that this definition would clear things up much.
Woolly Mammoth just announced their season: Sheila Callaghan, Jason Grote and I make up a huge part of it. They're doing Sheila's FEVER/DREAM, Grote's MARIA/STUART, and I'll be premiering IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING.
Callaghan, Daisey, O'Hara et al. Part of Woolly Mammoth 08-09 Season: Theater News on TheaterMania.com
I couldn't be in better company.
Psychology Today: Six Degrees: Urban Myth?:
Milgram's small-world experiment took this idea a step further: His subjects could reach anyone in the country, maybe anyone on the planet, through a chain averaging just a few people.
In the intervening decades, Milgram's findings have slipped away from their scientific moorings and sailed into the world of imagination. The "six degrees of separation" between any two people has been adopted by the intelligentsia, and it has turned up in the media, movies and on Web sites.
But Milgram's startling conclusion has scanty evidence. The idea of six degrees of separation may, in fact, be plain wrong—the academic equivalent of an urban myth.
A Good Name Dragged Down - washingtonpost.com:
One man went into a Glen Burnie, Md., Toyota dealership to buy a car, only to be told that a name check revealed he was on a U.S. Treasury Department watchlist of suspected terrorists and drug dealers. He had to be "checked for tattoos," he said, to make sure he wasn't the suspect.
An 18-year-old found he could not open an account to accept credit card payments for his fledgling technology consulting business because his name was similar to that of a Libyan official on the watchlist.
A former U.S. Navy officer who served in the Persian Gulf and whose father was killed in the Korean War when he was a child, found himself locked out of his PayPal account because his name was similar to one on the watchlist.
"What do I need to do to remove my name from this list?" the officer wrote to Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which compiles the list. He signed off, "An EXTREMELY insulted veteran of the U.S. Navy."
A Reporter at Large: The Lost Children: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker:
One complication was that hundreds of children were among the immigrant detainees. Typically, kids had been sent to shelters, which allowed them to attend school, while parents were held at closed facilities. Nobody thought that it was good policy to separate parents from children—not immigration officials, not immigrant advocates, not Congress. In 2005, a report by the House Appropriations Committee expressed concern about “reports that children apprehended by D.H.S.”—the Department of Homeland Security—“even as young as nursing infants, are being separated from their parents and placed in shelters.” The committee also declared that children should not be placed in government custody unless their welfare was in question, and added that the Department of Homeland Security should “release families or use alternatives to detention” whenever possible. The report recommended a new alternative to detention known as the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program—which allows people awaiting disposition of their immigration cases to be released into the community, provided that they are closely tracked by means such as electronic monitoring bracelets, curfews, and regular contact with a caseworker. The government has since established pilot programs in twelve cities, and reports that more than ninety per cent of the people enrolled in them show up for their court dates. The immigration agency could have made a priority of putting families, especially asylum seekers, into such programs. Instead, it chose to house families in Hutto, which is owned and run by C.C.A. Families would be kept together, but it would mean they were incarcerated together.
Greg Palast » Eliot’s Mess:
But there were rumblings that the party would soon be over. Angry regulators, burned investors and the weight of millions of homes about to be boarded up were causing the sharks to sink. Countrywide’s stock was down 50%, and Citigroup was off 38%, not pleasing to the Gulf sheiks who now control its biggest share blocks.
Then, on Wednesday of this week, the unthinkable happened. Carlyle Capital went bankrupt. Who? That’s Carlyle as in Carlyle Group. James Baker, Senior Counsel. Notable partners, former and past: George Bush, the Bin Laden family and more dictators, potentates, pirates and presidents than you can count.
The Fed had to act. Bernanke opened the vault and dumped $200 billion on the poor little suffering bankers. They got the public treasure – and got to keep the Grinning’s house. There was no ‘quid’ of a foreclosure moratorium for the ‘pro quo’ of public bailout. Not one family was saved – but not one banker was left behind.
Every mortgage sharking operation shot up in value. Mozilo’s Countrywide stock rose 17% in one day. The Citi sheiks saw their company’s stock rise $10 billion in an afternoon.
Black Guy Asks Nation For Change | The Onion - America's Finest News Source:
CHICAGO—According to witnesses, a loud black man approached a crowd of some 4,000 strangers in downtown Chicago Tuesday and made repeated demands for change.
"The time for change is now," said the black guy, yelling at everyone within earshot for 20 straight minutes, practically begging America for change. "The need for change is stronger and more urgent than ever before. And only you—the people standing here today, and indeed all the people of this great nation—only you can deliver this change."
The black guy is oddly comfortable demanding change from people he's never even met.
It is estimated that, to date, the black man has asked every single person in the United States for change.
Outrage at Cartoons Still Tests the Danes - New York Times:
And then, while it still seemed just a Danish problem, trouble spread. A gallery in Berlin was shut because an exhibition of satirical art by a Danish group called Surrend, which has previously produced works mocking neo-Nazis, caused several angry Muslim visitors to threaten violence unless a poster depicting the Kaaba, the shrine in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, was removed.
Two years earlier, in the wake of the original cartoon imbroglio, a Berlin opera company canceled performances of Mozart’s “Idomeneo” when police warned the company that a scene with the severed head of Muhammad, among other religious figures, posed “incalculable risk” to the performers and audience. Cries of self-censorship erupted across Europe.
Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club - New York Times:
Raise your hand if you don’t quite understand this whole financial crisis.
It has been going on for seven months now, and many people probably feel as if they should understand it. But they don’t, not really. The part about the housing crash seems simple enough. With banks whispering sweet encouragement, people bought homes they couldn’t afford, and now they are falling behind on their mortgages.
But the overwhelming majority of homeowners are doing just fine. So how is it that a mess concentrated in one part of the mortgage business — subprime loans — has frozen the credit markets, sent stock markets gyrating, caused the collapse of Bear Stearns, left the economy on the brink of the worst recession in a generation and forced the Federal Reserve to take its boldest action since the Depression?
How a German wartime flying ace discovered he shot down his hero | the Mail on Sunday:
A German fighter ace has just learned that one of his 28 wartime 'kills' was his favourite author.
Messerschmidt pilot Horst Rippert, 88, said he would have held his fire if he had known the man flying the Lightning fighter was renowned French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE VALUE OF THEATER
Theater can be a truly live event that generates communion and catharsis in a real, physical space. This makes it inherently more dramatic and transformative than other forms--a film may be many things, but it is always constrained by the screen it is projected on, and is always nothing more than dead light pouring into or from a two dimensional frame. Books transport us, if we participate in them, but they are dead words printed on pages and carry with them only a solitary experience--valuable and stirring for some, but lacking the community and alchemy of live performance in a living space. Only the living theater can fulfill the promise of an art that fully ennobles us.
In our world we crave connection desperately, and seek it everywhere--we're constantly yearning for that communion which is the central miracle of theater, and which theater was created out of human psychology to fill. We forget that religion is theater's bastard step-child, using the tools and techniques born of storytelling, oratory and mimesis to forge a community together. We forget that the act of truly connecting to one another is only possible in person...and this limits the number of arts that can aspire to the most human experiences to the live arts, and theater is the greatest of these for its ability to hold a mirror up to life and shine a light of inquiry through it at the same time.
Theater exists only as long as it is in motion, and then no more. Each moment is a death, and that process mirrors our natural processes, and makes theater the most fragile of the great arts...but it is also what makes it the least commodifiable, and as the corporate age grows stronger and more prevalent, this lack of commodification will become recognized as its greatest strength.
The value of theater is the value of the human soul—the experience of theater is the most profoundly articulated and artistically mediated way we have to express what it is to be human in our time. It may reach less people than other forms, but it reaches them deeper—because it is fleeting and mortal, because it is happening live in the air, and because it is a collaboration between all the humans present in its creation on that evening.
There is no greater task, no larger duty, and no more difficult calling than to aspire to create theater that fulfills this great promise. It's value is intrinsic and limitless, and we will be judged by our ability to live up to its execution.
(To read others writing about the value of theater today, click here.)
Cheney Unconcerned by Iraq Wars Unpopularity:
Raddatz: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.
Raddatz: So? You don’t care what the American people think?
Gross: Dead Dog Sweaters May Not Be the Best Way to Remember Your Pets:
Beth and Brian Willis really loved their dogs Kara and Penny. They were very sad, understandably, when they died. What did they do to remember them? Frame a photo of their beloved pups? No, that's too normal for these two. They decided to make sweaters out of the fur of their dead pets. Yes, I said sweaters out of their dead dogs.
Rants: Let's Ruin History, The Margaret Seltzer Way:
The New Yorker just published a ridiculous, hand-wavy essay questioning the importance of factual truth in history and providing some sliver of refuge to fake memoirists like Margaret Seltzer even as it badmouths them. The essay is littered with questions, and they all have the sort of "everything is relative, man" ring you'd expect from discussions in an undergraduate philosophy class. "What makes a book a history?" "Is historical truth truer than fictional truth?" "If a history book can be read as if it were a novel and if a reader can find the same truth in a history book and a novel... what's the difference between them?" "Is history at risk?"
There are a total of 16 question marks in the piece beginning to end, but they all drive transparently at the same answer, delivered toward the close of the essay in this summary of the historic meditations of English writer William Godwin: "The novelist is the better historian—and especially better than the empirical historian—because he admits that he is partial, prejudiced, and ignorant, and because he has not forsaken passion." The piece concludes by exploring, in a crescendo of absurdity, the idea that history -- real, true, actual history as the term is understood today -- should perhaps embrace a "license to invent" to draw in women readers, since women read novels and avoid contemporary history.
The Apiary: Gallagher @ The Blender Theater - 3.14.8:
--His jokes, which have an old coot-like anticharm to them, consist mainly of handicap harrassing, racebaiting, queerbashing pomp. He proudly talks about how GLAAD has been on his case and that he's not allowed on TV because he speaks too much truth. When he's not telling jokes or smashing stuff, he spits root beer on the crowd, ruins people's clothing without warning, interrupts during his openers' sets, and degrades the gimps who come on stage. One hammer smashing volunteer who was covered with all sorts of shit (mostly mayo), incisively inquired, "How am I going to get a cab home like this?" You think Gallagher cares?
Science fiction author Arthur C Clarke dies aged 90 - Times Online:
The visionary author of over 100 books, who predicted the existence of satellites, was most famous for his short story "The Sentinel," which was expanded into the novel on which Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" was based.
He was also credited with inventing the concept of communications satellites in 1945, decades before they became a reality.
Clarke was the last surviving member of what was sometimes known as the "Big Three" of science fiction alongside Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.
They Criticized Vista. And They Should Know. - New York Times:
It turns out that Mike is clearly not a naïf. He’s Mike Nash, a Microsoft vice president who oversees Windows product management. And Jon, who is dismayed to learn that the drivers he needs don’t exist? That’s Jon A. Shirley, a Microsoft board member and former president and chief operating officer. And Steven, who reports that missing drivers are anything but exceptional, is in a good position to know: he’s Steven Sinofsky, the company’s senior vice president responsible for Windows.
Their remarks come from a stream of internal communications at Microsoft in February 2007, after Vista had been released as a supposedly finished product and customers were paying full retail price. Between the nonexistent drivers and PCs mislabeled as being ready for Vista when they really were not, Vista instantly acquired a reputation at birth: Does Not Play Well With Others.
Time magazine invents facts to claim that Americans support Bush's domestic spying abuses - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com:
No matter how corrupt and sloppy the establishment press becomes, they always find a way to go lower. Time Magazine has just published what it purports to be a news article by Massimo Calabresi claiming that "nobody cares" about the countless abuses of spying powers by the Bush administration; that "Americans are ready to trade diminished privacy, and protection from search and seizure, in exchange for the promise of increased protection of their physical security"; and that the case against unchecked government surveillance powers "hasn't convinced the people." Not a single fact -- not one -- is cited to support these sweeping, false opinions.
Worse still -- way worse -- this "news article" decrees the Bush administration to be completely innocent, even well-motivated, even in those instances where technical, irrelevant lawbreaking has been found.
Why We're Powerless To Resist Grazing On Endless Web Data:
For most of human history, there was little chance of overdosing on information, because any one day in the Olduvai Gorge was a lot like any other. Today, though, we can find in the course of a few hours online more information than our ancient ancestors could in their whole lives.
Just like the laser and the cat, technology is playing a trick on us. We are programmed for scarcity and can't dial back when something is abundant.
E. J. Dionne Jr. - The Street on Welfare - washingtonpost.com:
Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.
The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard. They have lost "confidence" in each other, you see, because none of these oh-so-wise captains of the universe have any idea what kinds of devalued securities sit in one another's portfolios.
So they have stopped investing. The biggest, most respected investment firms threaten to come crashing down. You can't have that. It's just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are "too big to fail," because they could bring us all down with them.
Whatever you do, do not click this link.
Yes, this one.
This is the one you should not click.
I warned you about this.
This is the link that must not be followed.
Scotland Yard wants DNA samples from 5-year-olds in case they grow up to be criminals
Robbo sez, "As reported in The Guardian: Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard, says primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life. Civil liberty groups condemned his comments last night by likening them to an excerpt from a 'science fiction novel'. One teaching union warned that it was a step towards a 'police state'."
Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.
'If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,' said Pugh. 'You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won't. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society...'
Sex and the City Movie to Change Women's Lives Through Brand Exposure:
Want one of those super cute, bamillion dollar handbags the girls are always swinging around? If you visit Bag Borrow or Steal's (do you get it?) website, you can buy shit that's like the shit worn/carried by the women in the movie. Ahh. This particularly odious phenomenon (with more brand support from Mercedes, Vitaminwater, and "official spirits sponsor" Skyy vodka) continues to rumble on. An entire ridiculous lifestyle sold on the basis of imaginary people living in an imaginary city. When Mindy and her girlfriends are sitting at the Houlihan's in the Exton Square mall, sipping pink Skyy Charlotte-tinis, and petting their rented handbags, I wonder if they'll feel lied to, or if they'll just feel fabulous.
Tibet: China blocks YouTube, protests spread, bloggers react - Boing Boing:
I am visiting Beijing on business, and staying at a hotel that caters to Westerners. There have been reports that China was loosening controls on the media ahead of the Olympic games, in order to give visitors the impression that the media is unrestricted, but that is not the case in the last day.
While watching CNN in my hotel room, the station goes dark during the top-of-the-hour news flash on the riots, then returns when the synopsis of "what's to come" is given about other stories, and then goes dark again while the coverage switches to Lhasa.
Coverage returns with the anchor asking users to send in their first-hand reports to ireport.com, after all mention of the incident is over. Same results for BBC as well.
The Boy Mike Experience! - Theater - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
It was an age when drag queens ruled the Hill: Chocha Fresca, Bitsy Bates, Kahlua Ice, Nebulina Novatron, Ginger Vitus, Jackie Hell—bewigged vagiants that lived, loved, lip-synched, and clashed mascara wands on the mean streets of Gay Clubland. They were the color, the quirk, the sparkle, and flash in this gray city so obsessed with drizzly grunge. Among them, Boy Mike was a sensation—and a scandal.
Boy Mike devised and hosted two of the most popular queer club nights that ever happened: Rock Lobster, on Thursdays, and Retrovenge, every Tuesday, at Neighbours: combination disco, drag shows, and Love Connection–esque contest nights that dragged in the gays by the hundreds. He was compelling, funny, obnoxious, and really rather perverted when the shots were flowing. He was a relentless promoter. He did a mean Roseanne. He was omnipresent, impossible to miss.
He was adored and feared beyond reason.
"There are two kinds of light - the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures."
- James Thurber
Fingertip biometrics at Disney turnstiles: the Mouse does its bit for the police state - Boing Boing:
What these readers are effective at is conditioning kids to accept surveillance and routine searches and identity checks without particularized suspcion. One morning at Epcot Center, as we offered our ID to the castmember at the turnstile and began to argue (again -- they're very poorly trained on this point) that we could indeed opt to show ID instead of being printed, a small boy behind us chirped up, "No you have to be fingerprinted! Everybody has to be fingerprinted!"
To all those parents who worry that Disney will turn their kids into little princesses, it's time to get priorities straight: the "security" at the parks is even more effective at conditioning your children to live in a police state.
THE NEW REPUBLIC | Blogs:
As I said, Obama was running well ahead of Clinton in head-to-head matchups a few weeks ago, and now they're tied. After several more weeks of Clinton reinforcing McCain's message against Obama, Clinton will probably be performing better than Obama against McCain. This is the point I made in my TRB column. She needs to convince the remaining uncommitted superdelegates to split for her by about a 2-to-1 margin. The only way she can get a split like that is if she can persuasively argue that Obama is unelectable. And the only way she can do that is to make him unelectable. Some people have treated this as an unfortunate byproduct of Clinton's decision to continue her campaign. It's actually a central element of the strategy. Penn is already saying he's unelectable. It's not true, but by the time the convention rolls around, it may well be.
Cult of Mac » Blog Archive » Japanese Youths Prefer iPods to Cars:
Auto sales are collapsing in Japan, especially among young people who view the car as a climate-destroying anachronism, according to a fascinating report in the Wall Street Journal.
“Young people can borrow their parents’ car, and I think they’d rather spend money on PCs or iPods than cars,” says the student with shaggy hair who is in no rush to get a driver’s license.
Sales of cars in Japan have dropped to the lowest level in a decade. Only 25 percent of Japanese in their 20s want a car, down from about 50 percent in 2000, according to a recent survey cited by the Journal.
Disdain for the car is a growing phenomenon worldwide, the Journal notes.
1 in 300 US residents are terrorists, according to gubmint - Boing Boing
Now I understand why we have to do away with that pesky Bill of Rights -- there are over 900,000 terrorists on US soil. The ACLU has a counter to show the latest number.
"At the current rate of growth, the U.S. watch lists will contain a million records by July. If there were a million terrorists in this country, our cities would be in ruins" said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program. "The absurd bloating of the terrorist watch lists is yet another example of how incompetence by our security apparatus threatens our rights without offering any real security."
Strange Maine: EVENT: Weirdness on the stage in Portland:
This sounds like a real treat -- I'll be going myself tomorrow night to check it out!
Barring the Unforeseen by Mike Daisey
March 6-15, 2008
Woven together from Maine ghost stories, the history of 19th century spiritualism, H.P. Lovecraft, and the unspeakable dread lurking under your bed, Barring the Unforeseen explores why we tell ghost stories, and the precious, terrifying gifts they bring us.
Camille Paglia on Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Eliot Spitzer, the Oscars and more | Salon:
Would I want Hillary answering the red phone in the middle of the night? No, bloody not. The White House first responder should be a person of steady, consistent character and mood -- which describes Obama more than Hillary. And that scare ad was produced with amazing ineptitude. If it's 3 a.m., why is the male-seeming mother fully dressed as she comes in to check on her sleeping children? Is she a bar crawler or insomniac? An obsessive-compulsive housecleaner, like Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest"? And why is Hillary sitting at her desk in full drag and jewelry at that ungodly hour? A president should not be a monomaniac incapable of rest and perched on guard all night like Poe's baleful raven. People at the top need a relaxed perspective, which gives judgment and balance. Workaholism is an introspection-killing disease, the anxious disability of tunnel-vision middle managers.
The Coming End of Expensive Energy | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:
At about $30 a barrel, it becomes profitable to scoop up the tar sands of Alberta--4500 pounds of sand per barrel--heat it up to separate out the tar from the sand and then chemically crack the tar into something resembling crude oil. Needless to say, all of this comes at a hideous environmental cost. Thanks to all of the energy intensive processing before the sands become oil-like, about fifteen to forty percent more carbon is ultimately released per barrel of oil equivalent--all of the reduced carbon emissions from increasing CAFE standards? Instantly canceled out in Canadian rockies--plus vast pools of toxic water, destruction of the boreal forest and the unearthing of heavy metals. Production is expected to expand for the next twenty-to-thirty years, helping fill the gap between global energy consumption and traditional crude production.
What about biofuels? Aren't we already subsidizing plants? Isn't that the more environmental way to go? Nope, not when you consider these alternatives with a proper life cycle analysis--considering the impact not just of running the plant, but building and decommissioning it as well. In fact, the only current technologies better than fossil fuels? Wind and geothermal. Solar might get close to the total environmental impact of fossil fuel at a large scale of manufacturing.
Profitable at today's energy prices? Coal liquifaction. Coal liquifaction doubles the carbon impact per barrel compared to the already hefty impact of crude oil.
By The Waters Of Babylon by Robert Shenkkan, Directed by Richard Sneyd, Seattle REP, through 2 March.
How Theater Failed America by Mike Daisey, Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory, Feb 8, 9, and 10.
Through strange turns and schedules that are nearly too arcane to describe, the Lovely Bride and I attended two plays yesterday, separated by a few miles, a generation, a pizza and a glass of wine. And what was wrong with the first play was addressed by the other, which leaves me with a strange feeling of both frustration and hope.
I Need a Virtual Break. No, Really. - New York Times:
On my first weekend last fall, I eagerly shut it all down on Friday night, then went to bed to read. (I chose Saturday because my rules include no television, and I had to watch the Giants on Sunday). I woke up nervous, eager for my laptop. That forbidden, I reached for the phone. No, not that either. Send a text message? No. I quickly realized that I was feeling the same way I do when the electricity goes out and, finding one appliance nonfunctional, I go immediately to the next. I was jumpy, twitchy, uneven.
I managed. I read the whole paper, without hyperlinks. I tried to let myself do nothing, which led to a long, MP3-free walk, a nap and some more reading, an actual novel. I drank herb tea (caffeine was not helpful) and stared out the window. I tried to allow myself to be less purposeful, not to care what was piling up in my personal cyberspace, and not to think about how busy I was going to be the next morning. I cooked, then went to bed, and read some more.
GRADUALLY, over this and the next couple of weekends — one of which stretched from Friday night until Monday morning, like the old days — I adapted.
SOFA, SO GOOD - New York Post:
Like all great Nordic myths, IKEA, you swing your mighty hammer on the anvil of despair, somewhere in the desolate fjords of your soul. Your founder's grandfather killed himself with a shotgun. Your founder himself attended Nazi meetings as a youth. And many of the living rooms in your catalogues resemble the set of Ingmar Bergman's "Scenes from a Marriage," suggesting Liv Ullmann is lurking just off the page in marital anguish.
A man was stabbed and five people were taken to the hospital in a North London stampede when IKEA opened its doors there in 2005. The year before, in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, three people died and 17 were injured in the grand-opening madness. To these sad tidings I say: every man dies. Not every man has the honor to die for modular furniture and tiny meatballs.
The Bollard: Darkness on the edge of stardom:
Mike Daisey, a large man with pale skin dressed all in black, walks on stage and sits at a table. On the table is a glass of water and a black cloth (he sweats under the lights) and a few sheets of notes. Daisey sits and talks for 90 minutes. The result: Some of the best theater you can get in America right now.
The black box of Portland Stage Company’s Studio Theatre is blacker than usual for this show. The lobby and theater are minimally lit. Upon arriving, audience members are each handed a flashlight. Nervously moving through shadows in search of a seat well prepares the viewer for Daisey's subjects: ghosts, the unknown, the unknowable.
Daisey's method often involves mixing personal history with stories about historical figures. This time around it’s H.P. Lovecraft, the early 20th-century author of overheated tales teeming with the half-glimpsed terrors that lurk just below the surface of life. Daisey ties himself to Lovecraft through the story of the night he and some friends broke into the writer’s old apartment and held a séance. "I am an atheist," Daisey proclaims – but that doesn't keep him away from the Ouija board...
There are essentially three stories in the show, and Daisey alternates between them until each comes to a conclusion. There is the life of Lovecraft, who fell into the pit of madness, crawled his way back, and then wrote about what he'd experienced; the story of Mike Daisey as a boy, an existentialist at age five who thought about death constantly; and the creepy saga of Laura, the sad girl Daisey semi-befriended as a teen, whose sad eyes seemed to hold terrible secrets (and, of course, they did).
Time to fight security superstition | Technology | guardian.co.uk:
The Met's latest poster campaign urges Londoners who spot "unusual" activity to ring the police and let them know. Examples include someone taking pictures of CCTV cameras or acting out of the ordinary. After all, these are dangerous times, and we all must be vigilant.
Contrast this for a moment with an earlier dangerous time: the Blitz. Bombs rained down upon London on a near-daily basis, killing, maiming and laying waste to whole neighbourhoods (one American friend recently described a trip around east London where his hosts pointed to every car park and said, "Of course, that was bombed in the Blitz" – and came away with the impression that Hitler had dropped car parks on Hackney).
Back then, the government's message to the people wasn't "Take your shoes off" or "place your liquids in this bag". Instead, King George's printer stuck up millions of royal red posters bearing the legend "KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON."
The approaches are markedly different - eternal (even fearful) vigilance, versus a reassured, Zen-like calm. Which one makes us more secure?
Waking Vixen » Blog Archive » “Have you been a whore?”:
The MSNBC request came through Seal Press, the publisher of Naked on the Internet. I said I would talk to the show’s producer and possibly do the show if I could talk about sex worker rights, politics, and trafficking. They were casting for someone who had been a sex worker to talk about the mechanics of hiring a prostitute, and the producer I talked to point blank asked me the question that is the title of this post, though then he quickly backtracked and said, “I’m sorry if I’m not using the right terminology,” and I told him that no indeed he was not. When asked if I have had sex for money, I told him I had been a fetish worker and sensual masseuse (I’ve briefly been an escort too, though for a fraction of the time of the other jobs) - which seemed to disappoint him, and he said things like, “So you weren’t a real… you didn’t have sex…”
MSNBC was only interested in having a woman who had been a prostitute talk about the mechanics of hiring a sex worker - a little salacious how-to on national television, gotta love it. They told me flat out that they weren’t interested in discussing the political interests of sex workers or the issues around sex trafficking as it is today. And while I am not ashamed that I was a sex worker, and I know sound bites are short and cannot be anywhere near as complicated as my shit it, I don’t want to be MSNBC’s whore on television. It does nothing for me personally and nothing for the movement I’m part of for me to be boiled down to the essence of “will fuck for cash. here’s how.”
A Playwright’s Traumatic Vision -- In These Times:
I see a lot of young playwrights in America writing apolitical works that don’t engage with social reality. Why do you think that is?
Nonprofit theaters rely on funding from corporations and wealthy individuals. It’s likely that liberal audiences and funders are deeply invested in the current structures that have allowed them to make and preserve their wealth, and it’s unlikely that they are truly interested in seeing work that questions the ideological foundations that support their class status.
Artistic directors, who rely on this funding to keep their theaters afloat, are likely—consciously or not—choosing work that appeals to the ideological prejudices of the audiences that sustain their theaters.
This is not a time of great ideological dissent in the art world. There’s a sense among artists today that the world is the way it is and that’s it.
THE THEATRICAL ESTABLISHMENT SHOULD NOTICE THIS SHIT, 'CAUSE IT'S GOT JUICE.
Frozen Grand Central at Improv Everywhere:
On a cold Saturday in New York City, the world’s largest train station came to a sudden halt. Over 200 Improv Everywhere Agents froze in place at the exact same second for five minutes in the Main Concourse of Grand Central Station. Over 500,000 people rush through Grand Central every day, but today, things slowed down just a bit as commuters and tourists alike stopped to notice what was happening around them. Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.
Back in 2006 we had around 200 people shop in slow motion at a Manhattan Home Depot. For part two of that mission everyone froze in place. As it turned out the slow motion was subtle, but the freezing in place was absolutely striking. I wanted to recreate the frozen idea, but this time in a larger, more open space. Home Depot had many aisles and multiple floors so you could never see more than a handful of frozen people at a time. At Grand Central’s enormous Main Concourse, we would be able to see everyone simultaneously.
Wonderful piece about Google (and our) addiction to cheap electricity. Check it out.
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:
You may have missed it - almost everyone missed it - but Bill Clinton was on Rush Limbaugh's show the day of the Texas primary. You can hear the radio here. Limbaugh himself was sick that day, apparently, but he had already urged Republicans to cross over to keep Hillary Clinton in the race. Bill saw an opening - and went there.
Now just wrap your mind around this: the Clintons were happy to support a cynical, partisan Republican campaign to wound the Democratic front-runner, and they were brazen enough to go on the Limbaugh show to do so.
Welcome, Sunday New York Times Readers!
It looks like quite a few people are arriving here via Google from the piece in the NYT today, so I thought I'd provide some orienting links.
If you're looking for the full text of the essay that was quoted in the Times' article, you can read it here.
If you wish, you can read my bio, or a page about the monologues I create.
For details about the upcoming run of HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA at the Public Theater, click here. You can listen to the first scene of the show as recorded at the Public at the premiere performance.
Enjoy your Sunday,
Instructor fired over loyalty oath reinstated - Los Angeles Times:
HAYWARD, Calif. -- A Quaker math instructor who was fired by Cal State East Bay after she refused on religious grounds to sign a state loyalty oath has been reinstated, university officials said Friday.
The idea that someone could be fired for refusing to sign a loyalty oath came as a surprise to many Californians who were unaware that public employees are still required to sign it. The pledge was added to the state Constitution in 1952 at the height of anti-Communist hysteria and has remained a prerequisite for public employment ever since. All state, city, county, public school, community college and public university employees are required to sign the 86-word oath. Noncitizens are exempt.
Also, here's an interview I did on WGAN with John McDonald this morning--he called me "the Mother Theresa of atheism", which I am planning on adding to my quote sheet as soon as I can.
THEATER REVIEW: 'Barring the Unforeseen' funny, touching, haunting | Portland Press Herald:
Maine native Daisey has made a name for himself on the major-league circuit with monologues full of humor and insight. This new work, in its premiere run, is directed by Jean-Michele Gregory and features the burly Daisey seated at a table with nothing but a few sheets of paper, a handkerchief for wiping his brow, a glass of water and a microphone before him. The latter was used during segments when the theater lights were turned completely off and Daisey's disembodied voice filled the room.
Daisey can be very funny, especially when he gets on little obsessive riffs about such topics as the transition from boyhood to manhood or being sent to play outside during a northern-Maine winter. But the performer is after more than comedic bliss in this piece. He wants to spook us a little and point to how the ghosts of madness can shape our psyche.
Mark Hemingway on Lawrence Lessig on National Review Online:
Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig hates corruption. He hates it so much, in fact, that last year he announced he’d be shifting away from his work on copyright and trademark law — on which he’s one of the leading experts in the country, especially when it comes to emerging digital, broadcast, and Internet technologies — to focus on it. He hates it so much he considered running for Tom Lantos’s seat in Congress, at the behest of an Internet campaign to draft him. (After a few days of soul-searching, he decided against it.)
The shift to studying politics isn't a dramatic as it may sound, however. Lessig was a teenage Reaganite, and later a noted libertarian, before drifting leftward — he now calls himself a “progressive Democrat.” Along the way he clerked for judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, widely considered one of the most influential jurists of the past century, and Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.
Scrappy Jack's World-Wide Theatricals and Dime Museum: we can't let this happen without a fight:
Sitting there, kind of dirty and silent, a little apologetic and old-fashioned, like a great man grown old and poor and forgotten by his friends and family.
Sitting there in the middle of Times Square, unsure what to make of the Applebees and the McDonalds that have elbowed him out of the way.
Some things are right and some things are wrong. It's almost never that clear, but sometimes it is.
That house belongs to us. It doesn't belong to Ecko Unlimited or Howard Johnson's or Ben and Jerry's or any other corporation or group of businessmen, honorable or otherwise.
It belongs to the American theater. It belongs to the people of New York City. It belongs to the memory of George M. Cohan and Dorothy Fields and Fred Astaire and Jeanette MacDonald and Bill Robinson.
Legally, it belongs to Forrest City Realty, who leased it from the State of New York for the next 89 years or so, along with the rest of the block. But they seem to be having some trouble moving it and what with the Recession rolling in, the Big Money might go underground for a little while, leaving the rest of us to weather it out.
We need to figure this one out and get that house back. We can figure out what we're going to do with it once we get it along the way, but we first need to get it back.
Gary Hart: Breaking the Final Rule - Politics on The Huffington Post:
By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party's nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power. She has essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her.
Enter the Boosters, Bearing Theaters - New York Times:
Others have been asking that question too, wondering if the regional theater movement, which began in the late 1940s, has lost sight of its founding mission. As described by the monologist Mike Daisey in a recent article for the alternative Seattle newspaper The Stranger (and in a new piece called “How Theater Failed America” to be performed at Joe’s Pub in New York next month), that mission was “to house repertory companies of artists, giving them job security, an honorable wage and health insurance.”
“In return,” he continued, “the theaters would receive the continuity of their work year after year — the building blocks of community.”
For Mr. Daisey that dream is dead. “When regional theaters need artists today, they outsource,” he wrote. “They ship the actors, designers and directors in from New York and slam them together to make the show.”
And it’s true that the building boom, particularly among the aging lions of the regional movement, is partly about creating whiz-bang “destination” theaters that will attract national talent. (Also, younger audiences.) But the companies say they are doing this to enhance or recapture their mission, not discard it.
Wide Awake Developers: Steve Jobs Made Me Miss My Flight:
They pull my laptop, my new laptop making it's first trip with me, out of the flow of bags. One takes me aside to a partitioned cubicle. Another of the endless supply of TSA agents takes the rest of my bags to a different cubicle. No yellow brick road here, just a pair of yellow painted feet on the floor, and my flight is boarding. I am made to understand that I should stand and wait. My laptop is on the table in front of me, just beyond reach, like I am waiting to collect my personal effects after being paroled.
I'm standing, watching my laptop on the table, listening to security clucking just behind me. "There's no drive," one says. "And no ports on the back. It has a couple of lines where the drive should be," she continues.
A younger agent, joins the crew. I must now be occupying ten, perhaps twenty, percent of the security force. At this checkpoint anyway. There are three score more at the other five checkpoints. The new arrival looks at the printouts from x-ray, looks at my laptop sitting small and alone. He tells the others that it is a real laptop, not a "device". That it has a solid-state drive instead of a hard disc. They don't know what he means. He tries again, "Instead of a spinning disc, it keeps everything in flash memory." Still no good. "Like the memory card in a digital camera." He points to the x-ray, "Here. That's what it uses instead of a hard drive."
The senior agent hasn't been trained for technological change. New products on the market? They haven't been TSA approved. Probably shouldn't be permitted. He requires me to open the "device" and run a program. I do, and despite his inclination, the lead agent decides to release me and my troublesome laptop. My flight is long gone now, so I head for the service center to get rebooked.
Behind me, I hear the younger agent, perhaps not realizing that even the TSA must obey TSA rules, repeating himself.
"It's a MacBook Air."
Gothamist: Some Grand Central Terminal Secrets Revealed:
Some things are hidden in plain sight in the Terminal. One is probably one of the biggest mistakes ever – the impressive mural of the October zodiac in the Main Concourse was painted on the ceiling backwards. First noticed shortly after the Terminal opened in 1913 by an astute commuter from New Rochelle, the New York Central just claimed it was the view from the heavens, so they didn’t have to redo the ceiling. The great mistake was never corrected, even after the MTA cleaned decades of tar from cigarettes of the ceiling and restored it. The MTA also didn’t fix the small hole in the ceiling caused by the display of a Redstone rocket in 1957 which someone forgot to see if it would fit in the building.
There's also a secret communications system in the Terminal in front of the Oyster Bar on the lower level ramp. The Guastavino tile archway is actually a whispering gallery: Just stand in one corner and talk, while the person in the opposite corner can hear you perfectly.
Cyber-Rebels in Cuba Defy State’s Limits - New York Times:
Because Ms. Sánchez, like most Cubans, can get online for only a few minutes at a time, she writes almost all her essays beforehand, then goes to the one Internet cafe, signs on, updates her Web site, copies some key pages that interest her and walks out with everything on a memory stick. Friends copy the information, and it passes from hand to hand. “It’s a solid underground,” she said. “The government cannot control the information.”
It is spread by readers like Ricardo, 28, a philosophy student at the University of Havana who sells memory sticks to other students. European friends buy blank flash drives, and others carry them into Cuba, where the drives available through normal channels are very expensive and scarce.
Like many young Cubans, Ricardo plays a game of cat and mouse with the authorities. He doubts that the government will ever let ordinary citizens have access to the Internet in their homes. “That’s far too dangerous,” he said. “Daddy State doesn’t want you to get informed, so it preventively keeps you from surfing.”
The New York Times > WD-50 Restaurant Review > New York City Restaurant Reviews:
WYLIE DUFRESNE loves eggs. He particularly loves eggs Benedict and wanted to put the dish on the dinner menu at WD-50, but of course it had to be a different kind of eggs Benedict, a Wylie Dufresne kind of eggs Benedict: novel in look, concentrated in taste.
He started with the eggs themselves. Why not jettison the vapid whites? And why not find a way to pack a lot of yolk into a form that would hold together without getting chalky, the way a yolk at the center of a hard-boiled egg can get?
To that end he blended yolks, poured the liquid into long plastic sleeves, poached it slowly and cut the results into rounded columns. Mission accomplished.
Bad Science » All bow before the might of the placebo effect, it is the coolest strangest thing in medicine:
But the more interesting questions are around placebo.
Do drugs stop working if you know they are little better than a sugar pill? And do cultural factors, like our collective faith in a treatment, have a measurable effect on the benefits? On this, there has been a only tiny amount of highly tenuous research.
Vatican recants with a statue of Galileo -Times Online:
Four hundred years after it put Galileo on trial for heresy the Vatican is to complete its rehabilitation of the great scientist by erecting a statue of him inside the Vatican walls.
The planned statue is to stand in the Vatican gardens near the apartment in which Galileo was incarcerated while awaiting trial in 1633 for advocating heliocentrism, the Copernican doctrine that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:
Nonetheless, it matters who actually wins the popular vote in Texas and how big Clinton's win is in Ohio. If she can argue she has decisively won all the biggest states, even if she has no mathematical chance to win the nomination outright, she will have enough of a case to stay in. And this grueling race will go on. This is how the Clintons usually prevail - they grind you down. They don't care what happens to their party or their country (remember the 1990s?). They have no shame and no scruples. They will say anything. But they will never willingly relinquish power or the chance of power. In a free country, that is their right. And I'm not impugning that. But the refusal ever to concede or to champion others or to settle for a mere eight years in the White House is in their blood. You can only defeat them if you treat them as they would treat you. I wonder if Obama can keep his civility and still win.
Gary Gygax, 'Father of D&D,' Dies at 69 | The Underwire from Wired.com:
Gary Gygax, one of the co-creators of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, died Tuesday morning at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, according to Stephen Chenault, CEO of Troll Lord Games.
Gygax designed the original D&D game with Dave Arneson in 1974, and went on to create the Dangerous Journeys and Lejendary Adventure RPGs, as well as a number of board games. He also wrote several fantasy novels.
"I don't think I've really grokked it yet," said Mike Mearls, the lead developer of the upcoming 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. "He was like the cool uncle that every gamer had. He shaped an entire generation of gamers."
The Mirror up to Nature:
I once had a friend who told a story about how he was drunk one snowy night. After his girlfriend dumped him he was stupidly driving drunk when, on the way home, his car broke down. He started to walk down the road looking for help, but it was really cold. He spotted a fenced in lot with a fleet of school buses in it he went to seek warmth in one of the school buses. After getting inside, he saw the keys were in the bus. In his drunk and desparing state he decided he would drive the schoolbus to the nearest service station to get help. He started up the school bus and tried to ram down the gate, which he did and then drove out onto the snowy road. The bus got stuck about the same time the police arrived the police chased him through the snow and some backyards until finally subdueing him.
Now I have told you the outline of his story, but to hear him tell it is an enjoyable experience. I am leaving out many details, and even some plot points that, well, pretty much seem to stretch belief. At these points in the story it is not uncommon for a member of the gathering to say: "No!" "No...they didn't!" or "You didn't?!"
These questions are not thrown out as accusations, but as almost joyful encouragements to continue.
Now, I am sure that my friend's actual experience was not as he had perfected it over numerous tellings. But would people really care that much if they knew that he never got the bus out of the parking lot before the cops showed up, and that his chase lasted about 50 yards before he stopped and let the burly cops wrestle him to the ground? Probably not. They might care though, if they found out that all or some of the core facts were completely made up. Or that the incident never happened.
Clinton Rallies, But Does It Matter? - New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer:
In attempting to counter Obama’s lead in popular votes and states won, the Clinton campaign has argued that superdelegates should be free to exercise their own judgment in deciding where to cast their lots, however pledged delegates are allocated. Problem is, superdelegates have been drifting away from Clinton ever since Super Tuesday. Every week, Obama has picked up a clutch of them, while Clinton has lured hardly any. Clinton’s superdelegate lead over Obama, nearly 100 on February 10, has shrunk to just 46, according to Democratic Convention Watch, which maintains handy lists of exactly which superdelegates are supporting which candidates.
The Clinton camp has also been holding in reserve the results from Michigan and Florida, where Hillary’s name was on the ballot despite DNC sanctions against those states for holding their primaries too early. But between Obama’s string of victories and his gains among superdelegates, his lead over Clinton is almost enough to survive even if Michigan and Florida are counted.
Consider this best-case scenario for Hillary: Freeze the superdelegates where they are and add all of them, plus all the committed delegates from Michigan and Florida, to the pledged delegates. Pretend Michigan’s 55 uncommitted delegates (which resulted from anti-Clinton votes) don’t exist and forget John Edwards’s 25 delegates, too. Do all that, and Clinton leads Obama, but by just 1,468 to 1,453.
Sometime soon — maybe not Tuesday night, but perhaps after Mississippi on the 11th or when another handful of superdelegates reading swing-state polls declare for Obama — that fifteen-delegate lead is going to vanish. And then Clinton will be out of trumps.
Samsung ships 2.5-inch 500GB hard drive:
South Korea's Samsung has announced the release of a new hard drive, what it is calling the world's first 2.5-inch hard drive to reach a 500GB capacity. Although it fits into the standard 0.37-inch vertical space reserved for notebook disks, it nevertheless uses three stacked 167GB platters, spinning at 5,400rpm. An 8MB buffer is present, and it interfaces with systems using a 3Gbps SATA connection. Pricing is $299.
Author admits acclaimed memoir is fantasy - International Herald Tribune:
In "Love and Consequences," a critically acclaimed memoir published last week, Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods.
The problem is that none of it is true.
Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in the North Hollywood neighborhood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed.
From JM, A Poem For All Extemporaneous Performers Everywhere:
Where Everything Is Music
Don't worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn't matter.
We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.
The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world's harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.
So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.
This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.
Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!
from a slow and powerful root
that we can't see.
Stop the words now.
Open the window in the centre of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.
Daughters of Catastrophe: a man & a table & a glass of water:
All of my prejudices traveled with me on the night I went to see Mike Daisey perform his monologue "How Theater Failed America." But I wasn’t concerned. My prejudices fit nicely into a miniscule leopard-print handbag. If I wear matching shoes, no one notices.
How startling, then, as I sat there in the darkened theater, to hear Mike Daisey speak directly to me and describe all the contents of my swanky handbag with deadly accuracy! What the hell was this conjuring act?
Lindsayism.com : Pretty Much Everything You Need To Know: My Life As a Political Activist:
In January of 2001, I took a bus to DC to protest the first inauguration of George W. Bush and to visit a friend and drink a lot of alcohol in a lame club. First, though, I planned my sign. It was a gray piece of cardboard in the shape of a tombstone, and it said:
"We hardly knew ye."
We stayed out late the night before, and the next morning she didn't want to get up and go to the protest, so I decided to go alone. I walked to Dupont Circle with my sign, of which I was extremely proud. When I got there, hundreds of people were gathering, and I quickly realized that they all had the same sign as me. At least 1/4 of the signs were a slightly different, handmade version of my brilliant original democracy tombstone. In fact, of the handmade signs, I would say a good 70% were democracy tombstones. A few of them even also said "We hardly knew ye", even though that part didn't make sense. So after about fifteen minutes, I chucked my sad, pathetic sign in a trash can, went back to my friend's apartment, and went back to bed.
$31 million worth of lost valuables on the TSA's watch - Boing Boing:
A Fox affiliate managed to get ahold of the TSA's raw data on luggage theft on their watch and is reporting that a whopping $31 million worth of valuables disappeared from the aviation system in the past three years. Many of these items went missing from within suitcases, pilfered in transit after the TSA inaugurated its no-locks policy on checked bags. Now that's security.
An Angry White Guy in Chicago: The Off Loop Freedom Charter:
I'm working on (and have been for about three months now) suggested legislation to present to the Chicago municipal government to at least "get off my ass and do something." I will post it in full when its ready, but for now, here are a couple of points to think about.
Most of the problems associated with the American theater in the 21st Century has to do with the fact that it costs too much to create.
The NFP model has become an ape of the commercial model and the commercial model, by its very nature, is an enemy to risk. Risk is essential in the creation of art, therefore creating a paradigm that allows for artistic risk while minimizing the financial disaster that so often accompanies artistic risk is essential.