How have I never read Brave New World before?

February 20, 2012

I’m 80 pages in and I’m already much the better for it. My 1940s edition begins with a droll and somewhat apologetic forward by the author–I was a bit worried. What immediately follows is a fully realized, beautiful dystopian comedy. In terms of science fiction writing, which I believe people do consider this, the style is up there with Asimov.

 

Anagram of the Day

July 10, 2011

Today’s anagram is for Neil Gaiman, the Graveyard Book :

A night dirge above no malarkey

I was actually at the epicenter of nerd culture last month, where Neil, Adam Savage, Wil Wheaton, Josh Ritter and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys came together at Wits. The entire evening felt specially planned for geeks, and the podcast is out on MPR’s website. I met Neil Gaiman’s dogs, who are apparently rather famous themselves. And, of course this was the evening of Adam Savage’s karaoke version of Gollum singing I Will Survive:

One thing you miss in that video is Gaiman singing a song he wrote with a giant backing band.

Phone hacking and the HuffPost’s list of journalism scandals.

July 9, 2011

This British phone-hacking business is nothing new. If you didn’t read Vanity Fair’s timely article on the subject just weeks before the latest scandal, you must check it out. It provides context to understand the gravity behind Prime Minister Cameron’s comment that authorities should follow the scandal “wherever it goes.” If the authorities do their job, it appears some in Scotland Yard could be in serious trouble as well.

The fact that James Murdoch shuttered News of the World, a 168-year-old paper, immediately should be even more reason to look into all other media sources. One of the biggest newspapers in the world, and one with such a history, should be worth fighting for. It was just one arm of a media empire that is interconnected and heavily managed from the top down. That arm was amputated quickly in a public display of bravado, and I think it had more to do with getting out of the airy scrutiny of the hospital gown and hiding a terminal illness in the entire industry. We’ll see how well that works out for him.

In the spirit, The Huffington Post lists “10 Jaw-Dropping Journalism Scandals

I’m back

July 9, 2011

Between becoming gainfully employed and doing social media for a nonprofit, I haven’t had time for my blog. That shall change.

Two losses

October 18, 2010

Wow, two big losses while I was away from the blogging. Both made their marks as outsiders, and both excelled at making complexity simple. Many would be upset with my mentioning Eyedea in the same sentence as Benoit Mandelbrot, but he was a mindblowing MC and a Twin Cities native. That said, Mandelbrot was perhaps the most important mathematician of the last half-century.

Benoit Mandelbrot has been a major influence on the way I view the world. For the record, he’s a lot more than fractals. He used his unique ability to visualize and conceptualize mathematical concepts to create connections throughout fields from biology to finance. Along with behavioral finance, Hindu philosophy and existentialism, his ideas spoke to me at basic levels: With everything I believed and disbelieved as I grew up, the ideas made much more sense than some of the “all-encompassing” answers I was being taught in finance classes. In my opinion, a finance-heavy MBA program is a waste of money without serious study of the objections posed by Mandelbrot. The (Mis)behavior of Markets is required reading–the first half, knocking down established theories of finance, is much more important than the second half. Anyway, read that, and go from there. If you want to stay away from numbers, James Gleick’s book Chaos is an incredibly well-written second read.

“In a different era, I would have called myself a natural philosopher. All my life, I have enjoyed the reputation of being someone who disrupted prevailing ideas. Now that I’m in my 80th year, I can play on my age and provoke people even more.” – Benoit Mandelbrot

Mandelbrot’s now officially retired from the business of disrupting others, and has departed onward through the fractal.

Real good moments in journalism

October 14, 2010

The Savannah Morning Herald gives up on headline:

A defferent kind of book tour

Musicians, storytellers launch tour of Georgia to call attention to importance of independent bookstores

It’s about the creator of The Moth, but I don’t think the headline writer knows that.

Book and journalism news

October 2, 2010

October 2, 2010

“Perhaps my personality means that I’ll crash into brick walls wherever I go. I can accept it all, even if in the end I crack my skull open.”

-Liu Xiaobo in 1986. Now a Nobel Peace Prize favorite, and serving an 11-year sentence in China for subversion.

Coming next month: The Tea Party Coloring Book for Adults

September 29, 2010

For now, you’ll have to make do with The Tea Party Coloring Book for Kids. Really.

CBS reported that the publisher claims to have received death threats over this. (Fox News and its outlets were also all over that little tidbit). Do I believe the “very liberal” publisher when he says he has received death threats over this coloring book? Yes, sure. I also know customer service reps receive death threats from wackos… Celebrities know they’ve hit the B or A lists when the threats start flowing… Paul the Octopus handled death threats with poise… And, wait, weren’t the Tea Party DC protests full of not-so-veiled threats to come back with guns next time? But back then that was patriotic ’cause 2nd Amendment and God-given and shooting people and such. A real Tea Party coloring book would have a page dedicated to threats and an extra white crayon for when yours runs out by page four. Instead, this one shows 50 percent minority Tea Party members on the cover!? Please.

I’m willing to bet the coloring book threats came from people who also write daily diatribes to Clifford the Dog. Also, I’m joking about the adult version… unless I make one myself.

News and links

September 29, 2010

France’s bookseller protectionism and eBooks (WSJ)

September 25, 2010
From the WSJ:
In France a 1981 law prohibits the sale of books for less than 5% below the cover price, a move to protect independent booksellers from the narrow profit margins that big chains could absorb if they discounted books heavily. But e-books, not covered by the 1981 law because it refers to “printed volumes,” typically sell for 25% less than printed works.
I doubt a law comes out of this.

Local headline writer does real good.

September 25, 2010

epic fail photos - Common Sense FAIL

Fixes the ‘conomy, in fact. You’re welcome, he says.

Also, he says they pay the copy editors enough to make headlines fit the story or fit the page. Not both.

Masturbation as political commentary

September 22, 2010

Christine O’Donnell started it, Dan Savage finishes it… “I hereby declare every day between now and November 2–when O’Donnell’s nomination costs the GOP a Senate seat–to be Masturbate to Christine O’Donnell Day.” Please do not let there be any posters.

Yossarian would be proud

September 22, 2010

Some unnecessary government censorship of a book could confound those not familiar with Wikipedia. The NY Times bought one of the few uncensored advance copies of Anthony Shaffer’s Operation Dark Heart, and compared it to the new, redacted version. The Pentagon apparently saw the book late in the process, after the Army had already approved it. Those uncesored copies are likely to be legendary collector’s items someday, so long as you don’t mind the government banging on your door offering to buy and burn your book every once in a while.

Yossarian blacked out many things, but he would never have thought to redact a testimonial back cover quote calling it “one terrific book.” That is twisted genius. And it is apparently among the 250 or so items the Pentagon decided held classified information. I don’t know, I’m not saying they really could have thought “terrific” is classified… but the NY Times appears to think so.

I know I’m late on this one, but I’ve been spending my time applying for jobs to afford the cat food and pretty things one must have. Totally randomly, I had Catch-22 on in the background today.

Guillermo del Toro on Colbert Report

September 22, 2010

The video’s not up yet, but tonight’s Guillermo del Toro interview on Colbert was one of my favorites in a long time. They talked about del Toro’s new anti-sparkling vampire book, The Fall (“Is there any sex?” “Not in the book.”) and about the uncensored gore of Latin American Catholic art. Del Toro, apparently, was a really weird kid… who knew?

Perhaps Colbert’s congressional testimony tomorrow will be fun too. Whatever happens, he had better stick to the Truthiness. You and I and Roger all know how Congress hates lies.

James Franco writes a good piece on young Allen Ginsberg

September 13, 2010

I hadn’t read it till now, but it’s in the September Vanity Fair. It’s nothing ground-breaking, and perhaps not noteworthy, but I liked it because it is clean and direct.

Richard Swift and Damien Jurado release free covers album

September 2, 2010

Tourmates Richard Swift and Damien Jurado recorded nine covers a couple of weekends ago. That they recorded on fourtrack, then released the album within two weeks, is proof that DIY is alive and well. It’s also free and it’s really good. Other People’s Songs, Vol. 1 is worth a listen if you at all like ’60s folk and R&B.

I first heard Richard Swift opening for Stereolab. The entire set was amazing, but when he performed Lady Luck it felt like Al Green was in the room–I am not exaggerating in the least. RS writes and produces incredible time-faded folk and R&B music, and I’d put him up there with Neil Young for his quality and breadth of songwriting. If the world were just, he’d be co-headlining arenas with The Arcade Fire. I randomly stumbled onto the album, which was announced this morning on RS’s myspace, while listening to the Mynabirds (another Swift project) on daytrotter.com.

Links

September 1, 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