Saturday, September 29, 2007

Awful Times Graphic

Honestly, I could not tell that this was "The College Issue" for a good minute or so of looking at the graphic. And I'm hypersensitive to recognizing familiar patterns in obscure settings. What were they going for with that weird ant-shaped "G"???

Haredi Death Posters

In the ultra-orthodox communities of Israel, the announcement of a death is an opportunity for a dramatic "wall literature", one which has mostly disappeared from the non-haredi community. These posters are filled with arcane and euphemistic descriptions of life and death, Torah references, and statements on the decedent's role in the community:
There is much "oy veying" using quotes from the Bible and rabbinical literature in the wall notices. Here are a few examples I jotted down this past month from three posters: "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof," "Woe unto the ship that has lost its captain," "Zion shall weep bitterly and Jerusalem lift its voice," "Tears shall flow from our eyes and from our eyelashes water shall run," "Let every eye weep and every heart groan," "Broken and shattered, afflicted and demolished by the fire of God's burning," "How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

The article in Haaretz is an interesting exploration of the symbolism and expression of a seemingly cloistered community of scholars and ascetics, whose black-and-white appearance and religious fervor hide their flair for bold statements:
I asked a yeshiva student who was reading death notices, which often draw many passersby on the street, why the grief imagery is so dramatic. He replied to my question with a question: "So what do you think, death is not dramatic?"


Sunday, September 23, 2007

1901, the century has begun!

Fine, I'm a bit late, and can't let this happen again - but I have the excuse that 1900 wasn't thought by all to be the start of the 20th century. So ha. Even though there is a somewhat compelling case for the conventional approach. However, convention does me no good here, so bah! 1901 is the start! Here are the goodies:

The Commonwealth of Australia federates! Flight of the Conchords now has a people to hate upon.

Oil gushes in texas!

Queen Victoria dies, succeeded by her song, King Edward VIII (born Albert Edward, at left). First monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (wherefrom the Royal Consort Prince Albert hailed), to be renamed House of Windsor.

Mar 4th - Pres. McKinley commences his second term.

Cuba becomes a US protectorate.

Sept 6th - Pres. McKinley shot and fatally wounded, dies on Sept. 14th. Theodore Roosevelt becomes the

McKinley's assassin, Leon Czolgosz, is executed by electrocution. Must've been a speedy trial...

First Nobel Prize ceremony is held in Stockholm, and Marie Curie receives her doctorate.

Guglielmo Marconi receives the firs TranPublish Posts-Atlantic radio signal (this must have been so freakishly awesome for him to hear).

Lots of good births, including: Clark Gable, Zeppo Marx, Linus Pauling, Fulgencio Batista, Emperor Hirohito, and lots more.

Second Boer war still going strong.

Work calls, hopefully I'll be able to go into a little more depth on these things later in life...

Friday, September 21, 2007

The 20th Century Project Begins!

I have decided that, for no particularly good reason, it would be nice to know some stuff about...everything. In pursuit of that meager goal, I am going to have a look, over the course of the next 100 days (today is day 1), at the major events of each year of the 20th Century, jolly time that it was.

Wikipedia is a convenient enabler - there are single page writeups of the significant events, births, and deaths for (at least) every year in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Turns out there are more stretching back, but that's just so many grains of sand, right?

I am not quite sure what I am to get out of this little endeavor, other than a whole mess of semi-reliable world-knowledge. Perhaps a daily summary of the good stuff, a map of the tangents I ride out, and some kind of completion counter? Some posting of media finds or inspired content-filled inspired creations? Internets the limit, I suppose. Up up and away!

A note: So, in hindsight, I have realized that today I read 1900, which is of course, in the 19th century of that crizazy Gregorian Calendar. So let's just call it background. As such, no full entry (also I am tired and aching). But a quick summary:
  • The big deal events were the Boer War and the Boxer Rebellion. Brits v. Dutch-Africans, chinese peasants vs. everyone else.
  • Also, lots of strikes across Europe, workers seeming to think they have "rights", speak out, etc etc. No email, so no flashmobs.
  • British Labor party formed, wins 2 MP seats, and Winston Churchill got in for the first time.
  • Future Admiral Hyman Rickman born. Without him, no successful US nuclear sub fleet. Go figure.
So there's probably more but I'm tired so, c'est ca for now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Flickr Learns Me Again!


I have become a bit of a Flickr junkie. I take an inordinate number of amateurish but devoted photos, and load many (though not enough) right onto the tubes through Flickr. I've even got it going through the Curve (though I load through the web, which is oddly more effective than email). But I have not only been attention-whoring with Flickr, giddily lapping up views and comments; nay, I have also been learnin'!

One fine day, browsing the groups on flickr, I noticed a neat featured group, emergence. Well, here I am, massive dork and flickr junkie; what else could I do but join the group? I send the admins my plaudits as well as qualifications, and bangarang, they let me in. Now, some of my favorite pictures are of the fractured remains of subway advertisements that have been removed, and I decided I could cook up an adequate explanation of how the patterns formed by the strips of paper and glue can be recognized as faces or other objects of daily life. But wait! That is nay emergence! What is emergent is the layering, the overlapping colors and forms. But not what we perceive them to be - that is in our heads.

And it has a name.

And a Flickr group.


Magical perception, I am not a loony!! Others see the faces, and the buffalo, and the funeral in which the fish jumped over the moon, and so on...

So I have learned a new thing, and it is a thing that is always present in my life - any malformed or corroded object is fodder for my tendency towards pareidolia. How exquisite to find out there are whole online groups devoted to this fancy, and how interested a subject. But wait, there's more!

Posting one of the face-ridden ad scars netted a fair number of views, 50 at last check. And one of those views came from the founder of yet another group - Tachism. Who said "Boy! Yo photo be Tachism! Hook us up!"

And what is Tachism? Hoh hoh, silly Americain! It is a European Abstract painting movement of the 1940's/50's, perhaps the Euro-equivalent of Abstract Expressionism. You know, the silly Americans. In any case, its sweet, fitting, bizarre, and a whole new bag of fun to learn about. So there.

BlackWater rising (NOT)

BoingBoing got me started with a post about Blackwater's license to operate in Iraq being revoked.

I ranted a lot to my email newsgroup. We covered a range of topics, such as how Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater, sits on the board of a crazy Christian fundie group.

Mentioned this Guardian article, which talks about how overused the contractors seem to be.

A nice article on the no-bid contracts, from 2004 - frighteningly prescient article.

Found Chris Hedges' report on "America's Holy Warriors" We discussed how bad an idea it seems to be to have people with this inclination stomping around Iraq or Afghanistan.

And grand finale:
Wired's National Security blog, Danger Room, has an extensive analysis of the Blackwater situation (and the general scene with contractors in Iraq) written by P.W. Singer, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution who has done extensive scholarship on private defense contractors:

As we now see in Iraq and elsewhere, the privatized military industry is a reality of the 21st century. This entrance of the profit motive onto the battlefield opens up vast, new possibilities, but also a series of troubling questions – for democracy, for ethics, for management, for law, for human rights, and for national and international security. At what point do we begin answering them?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Homo Politicus

From PhysOrg (via Digg):

Homo politicus: brain function of liberals, conservatives differs from

The brain neurons of liberals and conservatives fire differently when confronted with tough choices, suggesting that some political divides may be hard-wired, according a study released Sunday.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Tonight in NYC

Forget the Pubs, Clubs, and Scrubs: I saw random things on the street.

So what has I seen tonight?

- This was technically this evening, but the line stretching out of DiFara was highly amusing. Longish styled hair, scruffy beards, tight pants, apathy, timbuk2. Hipsters and BoingBoingers, I guess? I wonder if the variety joint next door got as much business...after I saw that bull statuette in the window (more on that soon), I knew fame had to follow. P.S. The bus and I were talkin' college.

- Hot Ghetto Mess/We Got to Do Better: The 4 train to manhattan was attended by a group of "youts" (I'm guessing they ranged from 10-16) who saw fit to show off all of their underwear - as opposed to the tasteful little bits peeking through the holes in my jeans...

- The Dying Soldier Shot through the his screaming, modern head, his World War I/II/III fatigues imploring, "Bring Me Back" - perhaps asking us to do so now, anyway...

-I Love You, a Coconut and a Crate: Drink on a wall.

-The Bowery Shoe: It puts its foot down. Nice contrast with the shiny new clubs, cars...People really loved seeing me shoot this one...

-Kicked a cork in some park. Better than a needle. Thought it was a pill vial.

-Fleurie "Domaine des Grands Fers", 2005, Beaujolais, France. $8 at Jadis. Spicy nose, smooth up front, heavier spice on the way down. Body stays with you. Is this the proper way to describe wine? Who knows, don't care. Something about legs. I like legs.

P.S. the 16" of navel from the hostess is highly fashionable. coming back.

Now: tea and ridiculous comments from the passerby at teany. I like tea. and the wifi (from somewhere). and the juice. LOVE JUICE.