Archive for August, 2010

I have a dream…

August 28, 2010

I read Martin Luther King’s speech this morning, and you should too. I don’t, however, recommend turning on the TV today.

Entire speech posted from mlkonline.net, I updated a couple of spots where the text doesn’t match the speech

I Have a Dream – Address at March on Washington

August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [Applause]

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men–yes, black men as well as white men–would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Links, replete with American Psycho belt buckle

August 28, 2010

Iowa State Fair “biggest steer” award went to a clone

August 28, 2010

Welcome to the future, where cloning a past winner beats breeding the old way. I know clones aren’t duplicates, and that the size is affected by environment. And yes, the “old way,” usually involves getting a bull to hump a table then jamming a metal tube in a cow. But doesn’t this defeat the entire reason the contest was set up? The judges are allowing it.

I was at the IA fair this year; I kind of want my money back now.

(The DM Register broke the story this morning)

Seen G-Clooney’s awesome butterfly tattoo, brah?

August 26, 2010

Have you? It cracks me up every time I see that commercial for The American. The people behind the film say it’s symbolic. I say it’s epic.

News links

August 26, 2010

AP: USA Today “de-emphasizes” print edition, to can 9 percent of staff

August 26, 2010

The second biggest newspaper in the country is realigning to emphasize mobile publishing, and laying off about 130 employees in the process, according to the AP

USA Today shaking up staff in ‘radical’ overhaul

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE (AP) – SAN FRANCISCO — USA Today, the nation’s second largest newspaper, is making the most dramatic overhaul of its staff in its 28-year history as it de-emphasizes its print edition and ramps up its effort to reach more readers and advertisers on mobile devices.

 The makeover outlined Thursday will result in about 130 layoffs this fall, USA Today Publisher Dave Hunke told The Associated Press. That translates into a 9 percent reduction in USA Today’s work force of 1,500 employees. Hunke didn’t specify which departments would be hardest hit.

The layoffs are not a surprise, it is a Gannett paper after all. But these schemes… I see problems. First, the paper might attempt to surmount the small issue of its rather poor quality before thoughts of storming the World Wide Webs take hold. I’ve met a lot of editors, and none nearly so self-righteous as unnamed USA Today editor. The goal, as I understand it, is to plaster articles with “infographics,” and that USA Today does well.  How will they cover their shame with graphics when some mobile devices don’t support them? Second, we demand more stories like this:

(geekologie had the screenshot)

Three new Elliott Smith concerts and one rad Soundgarden single

August 25, 2010

It was a good night of music for me: I found three newly uploaded Elliott Smith concerts (ES concerts are legal to post  on archive.org) and I heard the new Soundgarden single.

That Soundgarden song should have been on Bad Motor Finger! But it’s not; it’s on a “retrospective” album. I believe I’ll pass on the $109.00 delux package with both vinyl and CD versions of songs everyone my age already has. I’ve been waiting for Soundgarden to get back together ever since I moved to Seattle; of all the grunge bands that could get back together it was the only major one left. Even Green River played a Sub Pop show, but no Soundgarden. I knew they were around–I’d hear Chris Cornell sightings at a coffee shop, and I sat near Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron at a DEVO show (and I believe my wife sighted Kim the next night as well). They were all in town with time to sit around and wait for the mail… it’s about time. Hopefully they write a few songs because coming out the gates with a second “Best Of” album is a bit disappoint. It does have some seriously gnarly artwork, but if they were trying to sell this to youngsters new to the band they should have put a vampire next to that wolf.

In other cashing-in news, a new Elliott Smith “introduction” album is coming out this year. I already alluded to it, but if you want an introduction, go to archive.org and listen to one each of his acoustic and electric concerts. If you like that, I’d buy Either/Or or X/O as a first album, not a mixtape. I will admit the song selection is good–almost all from his non-major-label records, except two of my favs, Waltz #2 (X/O) and Happiness (Figure 8). King’s Crossing and A Distorted Reality is a Necessity to be Free are two of the best songs ever written and are missing, but they included the awesomely simple Angel in the Snow. I think ES knew that one was good but was ashamed of it in the same way he always seemed a little embarrassed to play Say Yes live.

Image: An Introduction To Packshot

So if you’re young the Soundgarden album is a must, if not buy the single, and listen to Elliott Smith choosing his own mixes on archive.org.

In other news, Conan started a fight…

August 24, 2010

Conan picked a twitter ‘follower’ war with LeVar Burton today. It’s sad to see him start something he has no way of finishing.

Journalism Warning Labels

August 24, 2010

I just checked Chris O’Dowd’s (The IT Crowd) Twitter for the first time and saw something great:

http://www.tomscott.com/warnings/

It seems a bit strange to me that the media carefully warn about and label any content that involves sex, violence or strong language — but there’s no similar labelling system for, say, sloppy journalism and other questionable content.

I figured it was time to fix that, so I made some stickers. I’ve been putting them on copies of the free papers that I find on the London Underground. You might want to as well.

A sheet of stickers.

The articles these stickers are attached to are used strictly as an illustration: I’m not passing judgment on the specific articles or journalists. Hopefully that’ll stop anyone claiming I’ve libelled them.

Statistics, survey results and/or equations in this article were sponsored by a PR company.

Let’s start with the obvious one. It seems like half the content of the tabloids are made up of this: bits of ‘research’ put out by a PR team with the questionable backing of a cash-strapped university somewhere. Ben Goldacre talks about this much more competently than I ever could.

I’m not sure how these newspapers would fill their pages without these.

This article is basically just a press release, copied and pasted.

Oh yeah, that’s what they use. I forgot.

There are a bunch more that I didn’t copy over, but they are all incredibly necessary, and printable if you download the template.

Passage of the Day

August 24, 2010

The Passage of the Day is actually a full short story from the Arabian Nights called The Hunchback. This is a twisted tale of murder and guilt that presages Poe, Hugo and Weekend at Bernie’s. Here’s the quick version: A tailor and his wife like to party. They are coming home… wait, I have to quote the first paragraph as it’s weirder than I could ever paraphrase:

There was, in ancient times, in the city of El-Basrah, a tailor who enjoyed an ample income, and was fond of sport and merriment. He was in the habit of going out occasionally with his wife, and they might amuse themselves with strange and diverting scenes; and one day they went forth in the afternoon, and, returning home in the evening, met a humpbacked man, whose aspect was such that as to excite laughter in the angry, and to dispel anxiety and grief: so they approached him to enjoy the pleasure of gazing at him, and invited him to return with them to their house, and to join with them in a carousal that night.

So, that’s a really odd entry point. But they have dinner, and the wife thinks it’d be hilarious to stuff an entire fish in the hunchback’s mouth and force him to swallow it. He chokes. He dies. That will not do, so they cover him up and carry him through the dark to the Jewish doctor’s house, knock and run. He trips on the body, thinks he killed the guy in the process, and carries him out to an ally. A drunk Christian broker walks by, sees a slumped hunchback appearing  a bit menacing, and punches him senseless. Being a Christian, when he’s caught beating a Muslim, it’s a serious offense.* The trial begins, and the doctor confesses out of guilt, then the tailor confesses when the doctor is about to be sentenced. It goes on from there, but put that in your lit exam and you’ll get a C- and a dirty look. I recommend reading it.

Why Disney chose Alladin (actually Ala-ed-Din) over this one, I’ll never know. Coincidentally, there’s actually another version of the story in some translations called The Little Hunchback. In that one, the tailor’s hard at work and he sees a little hunchback who just wants to entertain him with a tambourine. The hunchback tragically dies, choking on the fish the tailor’s wife had cooked for him with love. Why? Whether it’s Disney or parents two hundred years ago, the story’s the same. No moral of treating the poor  (and any guest) with respect, instead these kids grow up thinking the ugly welfare leech got what was coming to him, and it’s alright to ditch the dead body if you were just trying to help in the first place.

*Given that Americans have recently shown they know zilch about Muslim history, I’ll add this. He could drink because the rules on alcohol generally didn’t apply to non-Muslims (and in some areas of the world Muslims can drink certain alcoholic beverages, anyway). I won’t get into it too much, but the reasoning generally centers around the necessity of prayer multiple times a day, and not being allowed to pray if one is drunk or has imbibed forbidden things–that is one of the bases for the alcohol prohibition, and it doesn’t apply to non-Muslims. Christians and Jews were usually allowed to live relatively peacefully in Muslim countries, but once a Christian does something like assault someone or–gasp–marry a Muslim, the gloves were off.

Trail running

August 24, 2010

I ran my first trail yesterday, and can tell my first marathon will NOT be an off-road one. At only 4.5 miles, it felt like 8. Part of that pain was from my purposeful attempt to find the hilliest trail possible. What I found was the alpine skiing trail at Murphy-Hanrahan Park. It’s a great trail; I had fun, with plenty of ponds, prairie patches and wildlife in the area. Being from near mountains, I thought it was a little quaint that the trails were labeled Black Diamond, but they weren’t kidding. Parts of the trail were like jogging a mountain–scrag/rocks on an incline steeper than attic stairs. Not saying my time, but it wasn’t good. I’ll be back out there, though, and sometime I’ll take a camera.

Today when I was jogging my regular route (a Lake Hiawatha/Lake Nokomis loop from my house), I came across two army reserves running in full gear–with packs–at a fast pace. Maybe that’d get me into shape. I’m thinking about doing a 10k obstacle and mud run next month, and I need something like that to kick my ass into gear.

A well-put dispatch on Hitchens from Sydney

August 19, 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald had a good, short piece of commentary about Christopher Hitchens by one Richard Cooke. Read the entire thing, but I like this part:

Death is a country with no correspondents, and even from its borders strangely few of our best writers have sent anything back along the wires. Marcel Proust is supposed to have rushed to get a pen when he realised he was dying – he wanted to write down what it was like – but most others have been too short of time, or fixated on a task not finished, scared, deluded or enfeebled to give us a close-up instead of a wide shot. There’s no Vaseline on Hitchens’s lens, not even now.

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. — Charles Bukowski

Where I’ve been.

August 19, 2010

Just as an FYI, I’ve been neglecting this blog as I: 1. search for a job, 2. finish paintings I should have finished a couple of years ago and 3. study for a professional finance designation.

Minneapolis has been decent to me, and I have not yet been kicked to the curb. But the job search has been hard. Oh the Shame of writing to get employment: I even once tried to set myself apart using wordiness like perspicacity in a cover letter, only to hear that word in last week’s Futurama episode. But I just had an interview from that one, so maybe Nibbler’s crazy like a fox.

One of the paintings is finally up. More than anything it’s a cheap way to fill the room, but I kind of like it.

The finance exam will be hard and no amount of studying will change that. I am not yet a quant, though I try. It has become hard to hold two opposing viewpoints at the same time: remember the linear/statistics ideas while still not forgetting past lessons from complexity theory. Read a freshwater economics lesson while remembering… well, I just hope they don’t grade me on agreeing with it.

Anyway, I’ll get back into the grind here soon enough.

Hunter Thompson fan compiles Hey Rube column online

August 19, 2010

Starting in 2000, Hunter Thompson classed up ESPN online with a column called Hey Rube. While it was ostensibly a sports column, we all knew better, and it offered the doctor an informal outlet both political and personal. This was where Thompson let loose on baseball (not a fan, offered rules including “get rid of the pitcher”) and George W. This is where Thompson was when the planes hit the WTC.

Actually, now that I think about it, Thompson rapped on baseball and GW at the same time at least once:

“Baseball sucks. The World Series is a Fraud and the New York Yankees are a gang of sleazy gold-plated toads. The only pleasure I get out of the Sports section these days is checking the American League standings and seeing the Texas Rangers in last place. … Ho ho. Good ol’ A-Rod, eh? Money means nothing to those jackass thieves in Texas. They are Friends of the goofy Child President, and they are selling enough oil and Energy to the State of California every day of the week to make poor A-Rod’s $250 million salary look like chicken feed.”

For your consideration, the guy behind Totally Gonzo.org put in the effort to compile all of the columns in one place. ESPN had them up in various places and with broken links. Like ESPN, the columns are occasionally uneven, but that’s what you get from a stream-of-conscious writer — mess with the bull, get the horns, as they say.

Read these if you still care about the truth.

Best Amazon book review ever!

August 19, 2010

A real American named… 4America… cast his vote on a collection of Einstein’s writings:

Amazon Customer Review of the Day: Rarely is the question asked: What did Einstein actually “do”? [cyn-c.]

In case you missed it in there, after the Ayn Rand name-dropping: “After all what did Einstein actually do?”

To be fair, he thought he was picking up a Baby Einstein book. In a world where no one can tie his own shoes, the velcro man is GOD!

(saw it on the Daily What)