Archive for March, 2010

Snooky the Double-dorsal Dolphin

March 31, 2010

Snooky the double-finned dolphin

Is this real? I mean, it looks cool, but I could photoshop it in less than 5 minutes. It’s from a press release claiming to be for the “Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society”.  The decision to name a (male) mutant porpoise Snooky is funny, and I fully expect Jay Leno to make something un-funny out of it, but it sounds like the extra dorsal may actually be helpful. This is the WDCS site and so far it doesn’t mention the dolphin.

The PR quotes WDCS director of science Mark Simmonds:

“We believe that selection pressure on dolphins in recent years may have caused several individuals to develop a remarkable second dorsal fin. This is a rare and never previously photographed example of Lamarckian Inheritance, caused by the large number of dolphins that have damaged or lost their original dorsal fin as a result of ship strikes and entanglement in nets. Those dolphins that survive strikes and entanglement, have fathered a new generation of bi-finned dolphins like ‘Snooky’.”

Twilight Book out for free, where’s the outrage?

March 30, 2010

Where is that Kindle-esque outrage over the fact that the paper form of the new Stephanie Meyers book is coming out on hardback first, then two days later–TWO DAYS!–is coming out for free online? If we are entitled to the Kindle version of a book coming out at the same time as the paper version, then aren’t we entitled to the same when it’s free? I mean, people were mad enough to smear a good author’s amazon review with 1-star diatribes about freedoms, rights and Kindles that had  nothing to do with the book… what’s the difference here?

For Meyers’ part, how does she feel right now? Good… real good.* She’s saying, I’m going to put this ‘novella’ out for free and you suckas will still pay for it–damn I’m  smooth.

*as for grammar rules, please see name of this blog.

The decline of photojournalism

March 30, 2010

NY Times reporting on the decline of photojournalism. Declining print revenues, folding magazines, and amateurs willing to sell photos for next to nothing.

“Pages are at a premium, and there’s more competition to get anything into a magazine now, and the bar is just higher for excellent work,” said Bill Shapiro, the editor of Life.com, who ran the print revival of Life before Time Inc. shut it in 2007. And that is for the publications that survived — 428 magazines closed in 2009 alone, according to the publication database MediaFinder.com, including ones that regularly assigned original photography, like Gourmet, Portfolio and National Geographic Adventure.

Lower expectations + unlimited photographs = a decent photo somewhere. The problem is, decent should not be good enough for a magazine or newspaper. And photojournalism–real photojournalism– is hard to replicate. A sunset in Florida where the photographer managed not to get his finger in the photo should not be enough. It is hard as hell to get the real story across in a photo, espcially in a way both artistic and emotional. That is why stock footage used to be the realm of constipation commercials–no one wants the real story there.

But still, if the reporting must decline, then perhaps it is natural that photo-reporting should fall with it.

Review of a book review of a book about Martha Stewart’s bedding habits (no, not that kind)

March 25, 2010

I nominate myself for best headline of the day. No need to submit any others–it’s in the bag. Sometimes I have to do a little destructive headline anarchy, just to feel alive. See also the title of my blog. I can’t remember where I first saw a “(No, not that kind)” headline, but do not ever do that!

Anyway, I should  look into turning this into a site to review book reviews, as I’m usually as opinionated about them as I am about the book. And I haven’t had time to post much about my readings as of late, not to mention that no one wants to hear my opinion on the Foundation trilogy so I can go ahead and shut the hell up about that.

This is a good review (with a great title) from Bloomberg: Martha Stewart Pal Recalls Shrieking, Stalking, Bedding: Review

Wait a minute, Martha Stewart didn’t akshully like Kmart? This Pasternak author, as Martha’s friend and antiquing companion, appears to have been a fly on the wall for some of the now-famous incidents of Martha’s career. She knew everything, except of course any sort of inside information about ImClone… I love how this review handles that:

As for what Stewart told Pasternak about her sale of ImClone, Pasternak is hazy on the details: “To avoid getting upset with Martha when she was rude, arrogant, impatient, critical, I had allowed myself the luxury of inattention around her,” she writes.

That doesn’t quite jibe with the 398-page memoir she’s just written, so take it with a grain of salt. This is an observant, dishy look at a world of luxury and privilege from the perspective of a woman who’s trying to justify — if only to herself — her years as a hanger-on.

Who is this Mr. Beerland bouncer and how can I be like him?

March 19, 2010

funny pictures of dogs with captions

The bouncer at a place called “Beerland” is apparently a man of the written word. A NY Times blogger posts that he tacked this to the door:

“Once we are at capacity, it will be a one-in/one-out situation. I don’t care how many hits your [naughty language] blog gets a month. [More saltiness] Google analytics. And besides, bloggers aren’t real writers. Sorry, I just don’t respect you.”

What kind of conversations happen in the lines at SXSW? Do people really go around telling each other their hit stats? I can see getting annoyed by that. In fact, that’s about the least “rock and roll” thing I can think of. Don’t let them in. But, not knowing this guy, I’m imagining a Techno Viking type with a large collection of unread Stephen King novels and an issue of Vice kept conspicuously on his coffee table at all times. (Can you see him right now, pointing his finger at you and snarling “I’m sorry, I just don’t respect you.”)

Funny thing is, they may or may not be “real writers,” but SXSW is not a real music festival. It looks like one, and it consistently gets great lineups, but it’s actually a marketing gimmick for an industry that just so happens to have great things to market. This dude fills “Beerland” to the brim once a year and he gets to be surly to the masses of student journalists filling the streets. I’d love to be there, but let’s call it what it is: a herd of bloggers going to “Beerland” to see bands whose labels paid SXSW.

Manly slang for the 19th-cenury gentleman

March 18, 2010

I’ve been talking for going on twenty-eight years without knowing most of these!? From The Art of Manliness.

Alex Chilton died!

March 18, 2010

He was was only 59 and about to play SXSW with Big Star. His only real pop success came when he was a teenager, but he has had a huge influence on indie music and ’80s alternative music. The tribute and “I met Alex once” articles have just started, and there’s no doubt they will pick up momentum. I’m not going to add to that beyond saying I like his stuff. This is from one on Rolling Stone online:

Nobody bought these albums at the time, and radio wouldn’t touch them, but all three became classics. Big Star invented a vision of bohemian rock & roll cool that had nothing to do with New York, Los Angeles or London, which made them completely out of style in the 1970s, but also made them an inspiration to generations of weird Southern kids. Especially girls — for hipster gals who couldn’t necessarily relate to the abrasive machismo of Lou Reed or Iggy Pop, Alex Chilton was a dude who let female fans hear themselves in his music. Nobody was ever better at making Southern girls feel cool.

photos from allmusic.com

March 17, 2010

xkcd.

saw it on thedw

Anagram of the Day

March 16, 2010

The anagram of the day is Michael Lewis, The Big Short

We let the semi-high liars botch

That one took me a while. Lewis has been all over the tour circuit for this book, and it looks good. He is, of course, the author of Liar’s Poker, which is one of the great books on trading and greed. He also wrote what I consider the most entertaining article of 2009, on one man  in the Financial Products unit of AIG who he argues was instrumental in our economic collapse. Less known is that he also wrote The Blind Side, which became famous as the Sandra Bullock movie.

Unfortunately, Kindle terrorists are putting 1-star reviews on Amazon before they read it, because it  is not available for Kindle. Smug-Factor-Five alert coming from the muffin-eating Kindle set (I own a Kindle but am not of that  set). Not Michael’s fault and not an appropriate venue.

C-SPAN puts archives online

March 16, 2010

That’s 23 years of Congress online. There has to be at least one nugget of wisdom in there. Read the NY Times article here.

Real Good Moments in Journalism

March 15, 2010

This has been one of the weirder journalism developments in a while.

So what’s wrong with creating a mock invasion by Russia on your regularly scheduled national newscast? And, why not, in your “what if” scenario, report that one of the political parties is in cahoots with Russia in the invasion? The opposition party claims Georgia’s president is behind the broadcast. The NY Times reports:

Looking nervous and fumbling with papers as if juggling the chaos of a breaking news story, the anchor announced that sporadic fighting had begun on the streets of Tbilisi, the capital, that Russian bombers were airborne and heading for Georgia, that troops were skirmishing to the west and that a tank battalion was reported to be on the move.

The broadcast showed tanks rumbling down a road, billowing exhaust, along with jerky images of a fighter jet racing out of the sky and dropping bombs.

Thirty minutes of purposeful fear manipulation. Unlike War of the Worlds, the newscast could have had a banner announcing it was fake, instead of a quick disclaimer beforehand. No one seems to deny that. Here’s how the Georgian president apparently reacts:

As for Saakashvili, he said that while the report was ‘unpleasant’ and should have carried a banner saying it was a simulation throughout, the really unpleasant thing was that such a scenario could happen and the threat of a Russian invasion was real.

“But the major unpleasant thing about the yesterday’s report – and I want everyone to realize it well – was that this report is maximally close to reality and maximally close to what may really happen, or to what Georgia’s enemy keeps in mind,” website civil.ge quoted him as saying on Georgian television.

First, the entire thing is disgraceful, regardless of who planned it and who allowed it. Any journalist who took part in this should quit. Second, it hits home: It feels like a parody, albeit an extreme and shameful one, of how our media and our politicians behave. Of course here the stations would make a more nuanced attack on our collective fear, but the distorted line between political propaganda and news wobbles every day on some of our biggest news outlets. And third, how would you feel if it had been a fake report showing U.S. planes starting war? Russia’s no blushing innocent, but this has to have done massive (intentional?) damage to the tense relationship between those two countries.

“Jesus Lite”

March 12, 2010

That’s what reviewer Lorenzo DiTommaso calls the brand of Christianity espoused in a new biography on Jesus. Would that be the same Jesus Lite brand that pictures of Jesus in a business suit? The one seen in statues helping your rich little kid swing a baseball bat to beat the other team?

What makes this approach even more disturbing is that Johnson is not above adding or excising material that helps massage the ancient story to fit a modern message.
 ….

By removing all traces of the apocalyptic Jesus – in effect completing a process that was already under way in the gospels – Johnson also removes Jesus’s radical message for Christians.
The topic’s interesting, but the reviewer takes the typical dry academic route. He reaches the predictable conclusion that one might instead choose from the more established biographies on Jesus. I highly recommend all four of them.
Or maybe Kevin Smith’s movie Dogma, which covered ground the reviewer seemed to want to reach, but with more brutal and incisive insight (remember Buddy Christ?). I also remember another book that could be an interesting read, came out a few years ago. “American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon” takes more of the Smith angle–the changing tastes in Jesus throughout U.S. history, leading to the celeb JC phenom. 

Anagram of the Day

March 10, 2010

Today’s anagram is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation:

A vast sci-fi ion doom sauna.

Random news

March 9, 2010

Note the argument she will have to make about her ‘character.’ She’ll have to make that argument in a courtroom. Wow. The question will probably be: Is ‘Lindsay’ a name like J-Lo, instantly recognizable as meaning Lindsay Lohan? The answer should deflate her ego a tad.

I became a vegetarian while researching salmon populations (hint: outlook not good), so I should be happy to see people killing seals, right? they being fish preditors and all? No? I’m kidding but it does remind me of the shortest joke I know… “So a baby seal walks into a club…”

Taking your educational system for granted? Consult Goat Bank

March 5, 2010

Amid student tuition-hike protests and dismal pass rates on dumbed-down basic skills tests, it’s nice to read a happy story on a Friday afternoon.

This rural Kenyan community built a school from nothing, using a goat bank. The entire paper is fun for a change of pace.

babygoat.jpg

And the nominee for most inappropriate title on a science blog is…

March 4, 2010

humorous pictures

Sippy Cups, Hard Core Porn and Human Mortification

Minding my business at work, glancing at the scrolling news wire, and THAT pops up. The post is TMI-Central.

March 4, 2010

epic fail pictures

Quasi gets extra press out of WaPo error threepeat

March 4, 2010

After a review of Quasi’s new album, American Gong, the Washington Post’s editor had to make three corrections. That’s a lot for three paragraphs of mostly opinion. The main issue was that allmusic.com had an error. Amusing article about the mistakes and allmusic.com’s pervasive use in the music journalism industry here.

All that aside, Quasi’s a terrifffffic band and this new one is their best ever.

Hilarious NYT error, as pointed out by WaPo

March 4, 2010

See if you can find it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/technology/images/NYT-Clinton-Photo-Caption.jpg

Because Happy Na’tl Grammmar Dai, I hates it.

March 4, 2010

My day just took a turn for the worse: I found out some hateful being has declared today “National Grammar Day.”

It’s not an especially effective declaration–I bet you have not appropriately celebrated that you are also in the grips of National Kidney Month, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, National Crafts Month and National Nutrition Month combined. Still, it’s the sentiment, and  someone out there–you, the one who put in a blog that you can’t stand Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay or  the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction because of their grammar errors–is listening to music incorrectly.

A grammar snob is like a hall monitor on a highway… no one asked him to exercise authority that was never given him, and he accomplishes squat. What he does is akin to publishing an art critique ignoring the art and focusing on the paintbrush the artist used.

If we want to correct our grammar we know where to go. Unrequested grammar correction is fueled by smug. Smug is what powered Eats, Shoots and Leaves up the charts. This particular brand of idiot savant smug appeals to our lower brain functions–the type that compel us to follow leaders and eat those weaker than us. I hates it.

I’ll have you know that I’ve been a mediocre semi-pro in the grammar leagues (pausing for  dramatic effect). Coach told me I had gumption but that I just didn’t have that killer instinct. Maybe I’ll try again (NOT), but when league play was done I left my starched-and-pressed jersey behind. You don’t see football players shit-talking about who knows NFL rules better and grammar is not that different.

I reject the idea that there is one correct form of English handed down from a higher power. When required, I follow AP grammar and punctuation style precisely. When appropriate, I follow other standardized styles with far different rules and requirements. And in between, I love grammar and punctuation chaos. I will admit this: “You must understand the ‘rules’ of grammar before you break them.” The NY Times blog said that today and I agree.

Finally, in this moment of agitation, and in the spirit of the festivities, I will admit two things. Don’t call them “peeves.” First, I can’t condone “was”/”were” misuse. One professor I had as an undergrad said Hemingway never got that one right (professor knew this because he worked at the KC Star not long after Papa left). Hemingway did alright. Second, there’s no real benefit in misusing “that” where “who” is proper. It jars my ears, that one.

 Anyway.