Flipbook novice

I tried my hand at BennetonPlay's Flipbook! application and had mixed results. My flip book of my dog cocking his head ended up looking like him shaking off after a bath. Not nearly as artful as this one of a woman eating a melting ice cream cone or this balloon guy. Make your own here.

I'd hit that?

Sony Playstation 2 delves into skanky territory with a new commercial where two jive-talkin' squirrels repeat the phrase, "I'd hit that," urban slang used "when you see a girl really attractive, and that you would have intercourse with her if the opp[o]rtunity presented itself," according to the Urban Dictionary. But McDonald's beat them to the punch. Read Andrew Teman's post, "McDonalds Wants You To F*ck Its Sandwiches." The best use of "I'd hit that" I've seen is a more literal interpretation, found on a shirt by BustedTees (above).

Culturejamming Chevy

Chevy tries out DIY, user-created virals with a site called Chevy Tahoe: The Apprentice where users can create their own TV spots for SUVs. Naturally, like the Bush-Cheney Sloganator before it, this is rich turf for culturejamming. As Worldchanging reports, the fun has already begun. But did Chevy anticiphttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifate this, realizing that (as one WC commenter writes) "even the 'negative' ads would make the Tahoe more attractive to its target demographic"?


Eyeteeth in the San Francisco Chronicle

An Eyeteeth first: a metropolitan daily has quoted a blog post from yours truly. In a think-piece inspired, partly at least, by the movie V for Vendetta no less. Read "Can art still play a subversive role in society?" by Steven Winn.


Modern Art Notes readers...

Jill Carroll freed!

Some good news from Iraq: After nearly 11 weeks in captivity Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll has been handed over to Iraqi Islamic Party office in Amiriya then to American authorities.



A commenter at local blog MNSpeak discovered something: Google "Whitney Biennial" and click on the third search result, for whitneybiennial.org, and you're forwarded to what looks like the legit Whitney site. Soon enough, though, you find yourself at a page decrying the biennial's big sponsor, Altria Group, aka Phillip Morris.


Agrigento, Italy, is enlisting a robot to lead visitors on tours of the facility. Outfitted with wheels, a keyboard, a monitor, video camera and sensors, Cicerobot will help visitors navigate the museum and provide information on the exhibits:
Harris Dindo, part of the science team at Palermo University that developed the robot, said: "It uses the technique of latent semantic analysis, which means it can answer many of the questions tourists throw at it and have intelligent interaction with them."
ZDNet has more. Via SmartMobs and cross-posted at Off Center.


Green bombs?

Sounds like a contradiction in terms, but US researchers are devising environmentally sensitive explosives. New Scientist reports on efforts to devise "chemicals that could replace the lead-based primary explosives that are used to detonate everything from blasting caps to ballistic missiles. They also claim their process may make the manufacturing of such energetic compounds safer." Read all about it.

Dick Cheney.

Just kidding. But aren't these insect portraits amazing? [via]

Rebar's Hidden Agenda

The Rebar Group, creators of such "remixed landscapes" as the guerrilla greenspace installed in a parking spot, has a new project in the works. This summer they'll create Hidden Agenda, "a fully-functional corporate conference room submerged seven feet into the desert floor." The work references both an Anasazi kiva (an underground chamber for spiritual and political uses) and the secret hideouts used by military, political, and corporate entities to either escape or make decisions on our behalf without our consent.

For more on Rebar, read SFWeekly's new profile.

Liberalism Kills Kids!

Melissa McEwan at Alternet reports that author Rick Scarborough will unveil his new book, Liberalism Kills Kids, at the upcoming The War on Christians conference (aka "MartyrCom"). A plug for the book reads:
"Liberalism Kills Kids" is a groundbreaking work which documents the devastating failure of America's 40-year experiment with liberal statism. From the deaths of 44 million unborn children, to skyrocketing rates of out-of-wedlock births, to the divorce epidemic, to the destructive demands of the movement to normalize homosexuality -- the book exposes a cultural coup d'etat that has left our families gasping for air.
McEwan replies:
Although claiming that abortions kill children isn’t exactly groundbreaking in its irritating yet tiresomely familiar mendacity, the assertion that children born out of wedlock, witness their parents' divorces, or come out of the closet apparently drop dead is, I admit, some admirable trailblazing lunacy. Then again, maybe Dr. Scarborough isn't suggesting that those things quite literally kill kids, but Liberalism Provides for Nontraditional Family Structures I Don’t Like isn’t quite as catchy a title... There are plenty of things that have the capacity to actually kill kids in America--endemic poverty leading to malnutrition/starvation, lack of access to affordable healthcare (including cutting-edge treatments and drugs), corporate irresponsibility and lax environmental regulations, guns, the kind of opportunistic hatemongering that plays on prejudices and can spiral into hate crimes which leave gay teenagers hanging dead on fences, just for a start...

Pete and Repeat

This Daily Show video mashup of Bush speeches on Iraq not only shows how the prez has stuck to his talking points on the war for three years, it also allows me to run another unflattering (if unrelated) photo of the man.

Pet food healther than fast food.

Turns out my childhood instincts--honed while sampling from the dog bowl with Kimo, our Golden Retriever--weren't so far off: British researchers have found that pet food is better for your health than fast food:
Nutrition experts discovered that Gourmet Gold cat food has just 2.9g of fat per 100g — a mouth-watering EIGHT TIMES less than the percentage found in pieces of KFC.

The level of fat was also far lower than a McDonald’s Big Mac and a Pizza Hut meal.

The lab tests by nutrition experts discovered that Cesar dog food uses just 4.4g of fat in every 100g — and has lower salt and sugar levels than many dishes served to humans.

Researchers found that KFC chicken pieces were the unhealthiest fast food on test. They contained 23.2g of fat per 100g and 1.9g of salt. Unbelievably, ADDING fries cut the fat and salt levels, with them falling to 12g and 0.7g per 100g.
[via / image]


Worldmapper features a series of cartograms (or density-equalizing maps), maps devised not to represent land mass but some other variable, like births, deaths, population, number of moped drivers, etc. For example, this map looks at current birth trends:
More children are born each year in Africa than are born in the Americas, all of Europe and Japan put together. Worldwide, more than a third of a million new people will be born on your birthday this year.


Blaming the media

Here's an important interview with CNN's Lara Logan, who debunks Bush and Cheney's recent allegation that the media is aiding terrorists in Iraq by reporting mainly the security concerns there instead of reconstruction stories. "Security dominates every single thing that happens in this country," she says, adding that the military tells the media they can't report the good news because it puts civilians at risk: report on a school opening, and insurgents will target the school; report on a new electrical facility and it'll be attacked. Further, reconstruction funds have been diverted to security, Iraqis say their chief concern is security, and US troops admit that's the bulk of their work as well.

She also takes rightwing talking head Laura Ingraham to task. Ingraham, from the comfort of a US studio, derides the media in Iraq for reporting from hotel balconies instead of getting out and speaking with locals, something Logan says is nearly impossible due to the security situation there. "It's an outrage to point the finger at journalists and say this is our fault... It shows an abject lack of respect for any journalist prepared to come to this country and risk our lives." Maybe the best part is Logan's response when told that Ingraham spent a mere eight days in the country.

Bush's insights into the soul

Remember when George W. Bush told us this about Vladimir Putin: "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy….I was able to get a sense of his soul." This week Bush's Pentagon charged that Russia had given Saddam Hussein intelligence about US troops' plans in the opening days of the current war (an allegation Russia denies). And, as Kos points out, Putin appears to be a plagiarist: "[A] pair of researchers at the Brookings Institution, a Washington DC think tank, established that the President's academic credentials were based on a dissertation he had lifted in part verbatim from the Russian translation of a management study written by two professors at the University of Pittsburgh in 1978." If Bush did see the man's soul, the eerie thing is he must've liked what he saw.

The Bush Soundboard: Edit together Bush's comments for an array of fun. "Vladimir Putin. Heh heh heh."

Tiravanija and Sterling

Sorry it's been so quiet around here. This week I had the chance to interview both Rirkrit Tiravanija and Bruce Sterling. I'll post excerpts of both interviews eventually: Tiravanija agreed to participate in a book I'm working on with Barcelona-based curator Max Andrews for the Royal Society of Art's Art & Ecology program (the book will come out this fall). I talked with Sterling over dinner the night before his dialogue at the Walker with Rirkrit (look for video of it here in a few days). In the meantime, here's a shot of them in Tiravanija's installation at the Walker's just-opened show OPEN-ENDED (the art of engagement).


"Behold the power of cheese!"

Growing up in Wisconsin, I always found that cheese-marketing slogan pretty, well, cheesy. But according to Treehugger, a Wisconsin company means it literally: DuBay Ingredients has devised a way to convert byproducts from the cheesemaking process into ethanol. The process also extracts a "high-nutrition cattle feed by extracting two by-products: probiotic feed supplement and salt."

In Iowa, scientists are having success in converting organic materials like bark and corn stalks into bio-oil. According to a new study [pdf], the US can "grow enough fresh biomass -- more than a billion tons each year -- to supplant at least a third of its annual petroleum use."

Judge: Tookie t-shirt = contempt of court

A community activist in Brighton, Colorado, was sent to jail for 45 days for refusing to take off a t-shirt at the request of Justice Katherine Delgado. The shirt featured the image of the recently executed Tookie Williams and the phrase "Should have been saved." Shareef Aleem is accused of assaulting police while being removed from a regent's meeting at the University of Colorado a year ago; the regents were deciding the fate of ousted professor Ward Churchill. Is a t-shirt free speech, and if not, does Tookie's visage warrant a contempt-of-court charge?

How to read a shoe.

The gist--or one of them--of Bruce Sterling's book about product design and environmental change (Shaping Things) is accessible transparency; that is, the on-demand ability to pull information about the products we buy using RFID tags and the net: physical or chemical makeup, place of origin or where a product ends up after the intended use is "completed," info on the maker or others who use that product, the working conditions of those who created the good, etc. (here's Sterling's speech on this "internet of things").

But Bruce admits that reality is pretty far away. In the meantime, here's a low-fi way to get basic info on products: learn the codes. Kicksonline demystifies the label on your Nikes, decoding numbers that refer to the manufacture date, factory and country of origin, and other details. Like barcodes, the PLU (product look-up) code on fruits or vegetabes can tell you the variety, as well as if it's organic (a five-digit number beginning with a 9), conventionally grown (a four-digit number starting with a 4), genetically engineered (a five-digit number beginning with an 8), etc.

Shoes to spimes: Bruce Sterling in Mpls

In anticipation of Bruce Sterling's talk with Rirkrit Tiravanija at the Walker tonight, videoblogger Chuck Olsen met up with Bruce and I to discuss everything from the pot roast at Minneapolis' Modern Cafe to what happens to rubber when our shoes wear down to Sterling's notion of "spimes" (objects that are trackable over space and time using RFID chips).

Watch the video here.


Aesthetic Competition

March Madness has hit the arts, at least according to LeisureArts. They’ve drawn up an NCAA-style bracket that pits 64 art collectives in an imagined monthlong battle. Will the Center for Land-Use Interpretation end up drubbing The Yes Men? Or are you putting your money on Atlas Group, the Critical Art Ensemble, Superflex, n55, or COBRA? (And how does an art collective nail a three-pointer?)

Just like the NCAA, LeisureArts is looking for corporate sponsorship, but their only likely candidate – Bernadette Corporation – hasn’t responded yet. As the comments suggest, we art types take our aesthetic competitions seriously: one anonymous person called it “elitist crap,” while others challenged the exclusion of collectives based outside the US (although there are some). I, too, wonder why my favorite collectives aren’t included: Futurefarmers, the Bureau of Inverse Technology, Mejor Vida Corp., or the ever-weird but demonstratedly scrappy Atelier van Lieshout.

[Cross-posted at Off-Center.]

Start seeing las indígenas!

I love street art when it transcends the ego of its maker to become an incisive intervention in everyday life, when it uses the specificity of the medium to make visible what often isn't. A series eight street stencils by Lima's colectivo entre la espada y la pared the does that by inserting images of indigenous women--often invisible to wealthier, urban populations--into the "the swank white" neighborhoods of Miraflores and San Isidro.

Perhaps the work has more resonance after reading a 1993 speech by Anishinaabeg activist Winona LaDuke last night. She reported that 72% of the world's wars involve indigenous people; that all atomic weapons tests in the US have occurred on the lands of indigenous people; that 50 million indigenous people live in endangered rainforests; that a million indigenous people in the '90s were slated to be relocated due to dam-building projects.


Flying Carpet

Seyed Alavi on the 2005 work Flying Carpet:
This project consists of an aerial view of the Sacramento River that is woven into a carpet for the floor of a pedestrian bridge connecting the terminal to the parking garage. This image represents approximately 50 miles of the Sacramento River starting just outside of Colusa, California and ending about 6 miles south of Chico.

In addition to recalling the experience of flight and flying, this piece, by depicting the larger geographical area, also helps to reinforce a sense of belonging and/or connection for the traveler. In this way, the carpet can also be read and experienced as a “welcome mat” for visitors arriving in Sacramento. The siting of this piece on a bridge also helps to highlight a few other conceptual aspects of the work. A bridge is a connection between two destinations; it is not a destination in and of itself; it is neither here, nor there. In this way it is similar to an airplane, or a river connecting one place to another; here to there; a moment of flight frozen in mid air; a flowing river that takes us along with its current to another destination. In this way, the piece also creates a koanic relationship between a river and a bridge, since their ordinary position have been turned around, and it is now the river that is on/above the bridge.

Via Pruned.

Bangkok's Mega-Bridge

"In order to relieve the commercial traffic congestion around the industrial areas of Bangkok Port, Poochao Saming Phrai Road and Suksawat Road the King initiated the idea of a ring road system." Now in construction, the Industrial Ring Road Bridge (aka Mega-Bridge) stretches 13 km and required the demolition of 881 houses and factories and the commissioning of the world's largest moveable scaffolding system.

More details here.

In other bridge news:
Workers inspecting the structural foundation of the Brooklyn Bridge have found a stockpile of '50s-era survival rations that suggest the depth of fear during the Cold War. Discovered in the bridge vault were water drums, paper blankets, medical supplies, drugs designed to treat shock, and 352,000 Civil Defense All-Purpose Survival Crackers--still intact.


Feingold on Charlie Rose

On Charlie Rose the other night, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) explained the rationale behind his motion to censure Bush for illegal domestic wiretapping:
I'm both on the judiciary committee and the intelligence committee. I've been on both committees looking at this, and after three months, I came to the conclusion that I think just about anyone focused on the law in this area would come to, which is: he doesn't have a leg to stand on for this being legal. You couple that with the fact that he had mislead the american people on at least three occasions saying that he always got warrants. And after the program was discovered, the president got out and said, basically, 'Tough luck. I'm going to do whatever I want to do here, whether it's in the law or not.' That to me demands a response. And I decided we had to at least look at the possibility of letting the president know on the record that what he's done here is illegal and wrong. That's why I proposed censure. I did not propose impeachment because, to me, obviously that's a more extreme step, and you have to consider whether this is really a good time to talk about removing the president from office, even though this is conduct I think the founding fathers would've found right within the strike zone of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Watch the video here.


The trailer for Drawing Restraint 9, Matthew Barney's latest.


For small urges.

Choose life?

A Nashville judge has overturned a lower court decision that determined Tennessee's "Choose Life" license plates illegally promoted just one side of the abortion debate. As with other states that have such plates, part of the proceeds for the increased-price plates go to anti-abortion agencies. But how do Tennessee and other states who oppose abortion on license plates support kids after they're born?

Apparently, Tennessee isn't the best place to raise a child. Only two states ranked worse in a recent ranking of healthiest states, Louisiana and Mississippi, two of the 12 states that already have the plates. Tennessee ranks 15th for poverty (13.8% according to the Census Bureau in 2003), and has the third highest rates of infant mortality in America. Kentucky--ranking fifth in poverty standings and 42nd most healthy--has just OK'd production of "Choose Life" plates of its own.

Bush beat

Bush's new prescription drug benefit is as easy to understand as... buying a car. His fumbled reply to a retiree's group suggests it's been awhile since he's bought one of his own:
This guy has got a great question because really what he's talking about is transparency in pricing. When you go buy a car, you know exactly what they're going to charge you. (Laughter.) Well, sometimes you don't know. (Laughter.) Well, you negotiate with them. (Laughter.) Well, they put something on the window that says price. (Laughter.) His point is, is that the more you know about price, the better you can make better decisions, and I appreciate that.
As the impeachment "chorus grows," ThinkProgress publishes a timeline of the three-year Iraq War. Relive the memories: Jessica Lynch, "Bring 'Em On," "Mission Accomplished," "last throes," Bush's fake turkey photo-op, "You've got to go to war with the army you have," “[M]uch of the intelligence turned out to be wrong" (Bush), and more. Learn more at ImpeachBush.org.


The air assault that wasn't.

Touted as the biggest air assault since the Iraq war started, Operation Swarmer was nothing of the sort:
The press, flown in from Baghdad to this agricultural gridiron northeast of Samarra, huddled around the Iraqi officials and U.S. Army commanders who explained that the "largest air assault since 2003" in Iraq using over 50 helicopters to put 1500 Iraqi and U.S. troops on the ground had netted 48 suspected insurgents, 17 of which had already been cleared and released. The area, explained the officials, has long been suspected of being used as a base for insurgents operating in and around Samarra, the city north of Baghdad where the bombing of a sacred shrine recently sparked a wave of sectarian violence.

But contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.

Snakes on a Plane

The moment we've all been waiting for.


Jesus was a Democrat

"Right now, I wouldn't vote Democratic if Jesus Christ was running."

Judy Deats, a Texas Republican, who is standing by Rep. Tom DeLay in his re-election bid despite the fact that his association with lobbyist Jack Abramoff has made him vulnerable to political opposition for the first time in more than 20 years

Appropriating Arbus

Long before this appropriation of Diane Arbus' photo Child with a toy hand grenade inCentral Park, N.Y.C (1962) appeared in this Puerto Vallarta street art, it ended up tattooed on some guy's arm.

Newsflash: Bush "incompetent"

Katrina, Dubai, "I can see [Putin's] soul," Iraq, "Mission Accomplished," the Plame leak, warrantless wiretapping of US citizens, unprecedented national debt, "Heckuva job, Brownie." Given Bush's blunders, it's surprising to me that 33% of Americans still approve of the guy. But I doubt he'll maintain even those numbers. A new Pew survey reports:
Bush's personal image also has weakened noticeably, which is reflected in people's one-word descriptions of the president. Honesty had been the single trait most closely associated with Bush, but in the current survey "incompetent" is the descriptor used most frequently.
But incompetence won't stop Bush: he's still gung-ho on pre-emptive (that is, unprovoked) war, and the odds that the US will mount an air strike against Iran before the end of June is 4-to-1, according to tradesports.com.


Death and Taxes

As the Republican-controlled Congress agrees to raise the national debt limit to $9 trillion dollars—an amount that represents $30,000 for every individual in America, a figure equivalent to 28 Eiffel Towers constructed of pure gold—this art project is timely: Death & Taxes is a visual representation of where your tax dollars go.


The day before yesterday, Bruce Sterling (who is now posting over at Off-Center) gave a presentation at the South By Southwest interactive conference. He struck an optimistic tone about the future of the net: “This is the hottest period of invention since the invention of the browser…Flickr is not a copy of anything else; it is not a hippie knockoff of a commercial product. Wikipedia is not like anything else. A wiki is like nothing known to mankind. Collaborative web filters are very spooky things. They are without historical precedent… The Net community is no longer hanging on the coattails of Gates.”

But his chipper mood could only last so long. As a resident of Belgrade, he says he can see America from the outside, the way 94% of the world sees us, and it ain’t pretty, technologically speaking. Broadband in Serbia costs $20 a month, “and it works!” but the U.S. leaves broadband expansion to municipalities. He continues:

Our people in Washington are drinking their own bath water. They’ve forgotten how to build anything. They are busy monetizing stuff for their reelection campaigns. It is decadent, it is sclerotic. It looks like the Soviet Union. These guys in power are so eager to monetize the Net, that they’re turning the USA into a banana republic with rockets. Not just politically backward--technically backward! …The reality-based community are fatally easy to push around, mostly because they’re so gentlemanly and ladylike. But when you actually ignore reality for years on end, the payback is a bitch, brother! And I would know: because I’m a science fiction writer.
Here's a report on his presentation, and here's the podcast.

Daily Agitprop

Jason Malmberg's poster is one of six commemorating the third anniversary of the Iraq War's launch published by the Sacramento News and Review.



Bloody pissed? These colorful stickers are designed to help drunken Londoners get home safely. Just slap a "Wake me up at Earl's Court" sticker on your chest (or forehead) while riding the Tube and sink into a stupor until your fellow passengers alert to your stop. At least that's the theory; I think they amount to a sticker that says "Write on my forehead with a Sharpie." Wake Me Up At via Protein Feed.

Architecture for airborne activists.

Environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill could've foregone her tree-wedged platform for a modernist marvel had Andrew Maynard been around during her 768-day treetop protest. Maynard's Global Rescue Station is a structure mounted in the endangered trees of Tasmania that aims to shelter activists, provide a visible symbol of resistance to corporate deforestation, and serve as a manned station that forestry workers would be powerless to remove. The structure is anchored to three trees instead of just one (as with typical treehouses), thereby protecting more trees from the logger's saw.

Inhabitat has more.

Oil Standard

Oil Standard is a plug-in for your web browser that converts all prices from dollars to the equivalent value in crude oil. As the market fluctuates, you can see how many barrels you have left in your online bank account, how many gallons your Amazon purchase could buy, etc. An art project by Michael Mandiberg, Oil Standard "illustrates a potential future when oil will replace gold as the standard by which we trade all other goods & currencies," writes Infosthetics.

Oil stats: How oil-centric is your elected official? At OilChange International, I found this out about my senators: Republican Norm Coleman has accepted $141,100 from the oil and gas industry since 1990, while Democrat Mark Dayton has accepted $250 over the same period. (Via AltText.)

Earlier: Andrei Molodkin's sculpture Iraqi Crude Oil in the Form of Democracy and others.

Quote of the Day

"Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn't place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

—Maryland State Senate candidate Jamie Raskin, March 1, 2006, in Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee testimony responding to Republican Sen. Nancy Jacobs' suggestion that discriminating against gays and lesbians regarding marriage is required by "God's Law." Via Orcinus.


Shootouts, high-speed chases, rappelling: the hijab these Iranian women wear doesn't seem to prevent them from being kick-ass policewomen. (Looks like they're using nunchucks at one point!?)

Catching up.

Who owes an apology? FAIR runs a list of what indignant rightwingers had to say days after the US "won" the war in Iraq, which marks its three-year anniversary on Sunday. Highlights include Fox's Alam Colmes ("Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"), Fox's Bill O'Reilly ("I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?"), and Fox's Morton Kondracke ("The Tommy Franks-Don Rumsfeld battle plan, war plan, worked brilliantly, a three-week war with mercifully few American deaths or Iraqi civilian deaths.... There is a lot of work yet to do, but all the naysayers have been humiliated so far.... The final word on this is, hooray.")

Pacifism = Terror: The Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice released documents that suggest the FBI was spying on the peace group for its opposition to the war in Iraq. In its report titled "IT [International Terrorism] Matters," the FBI describes the Merton Center as a "left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism." DemocracyNow has more.

Fascist career day? An FBI representative speaking to law students recently presented a slide show called "Terrorism in Texas." Among the evildoers, he listed IndyMedia, Food-not-Bombs, and the Communist Party of Texas.

Gunboats: Continuing the militarization of domestic life, now the Coast Guard is equipping some of its Great Lakes vessels with machine guns that can fire 600 rounds per minute.

And then there's Russ: What else is there to say? I love the guy. And, The Daily Show brilliantly skewers the limp-wristed Dems with the help of Paul Hackett, the Ohio Iraq vet who was asked by Democratic leaders to drop out of a race in a Republican district where he'd previously garnered 48% of the vote.

So long...

Things have been so quiet around here because my Grandpa Ed died Friday morning. After a long weekend in Chicago, celebrating his long (90 years), full live with his wife of 65 years, his six children, 29 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren, I'm back. Rest in peace, Gramps.


Milosevic dead

Not many details yet, but Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his jail cell at The Hague this morning. He was facing the UN war crimes tribunal for genocide and other crimes.

Where the billionaires are.

There are 15% more billionaires now than there were a year ago, according to Forbes, with 793 individuals globally now counted among the filthy rich. And where do they live? Forbes has a world map that shows you: the diameter of the disk represents the size of the wealth (the largest blue disk, not surprisingly in Bill Gates' neighborhood, signifies "up to $46.5 billion").


Pardon my French, but...


Hint, hint.

If I was on the nominating panel for the Pulitzer Prize for photography, this Reuters shot by Larry Downing would probably get my vote. Taken during Cheney's keynote address to the U.S. Labor Department's National Summit on Retirement Savings in Washington on March 2, the cropping is fabulous. (How long did Downing have to wait for Cheney to line up j-u-u-u-s-t right?) Via Wonkette, who offers a "more blatant example of editorializing by wire photographers."

San Francisco hydrological model

BLDGBLOG posts on the remarkable hydrological model of San Francisco created in 1957 by the Army Corps of Engineers. Larger than two football fields, the model served "as a scientific research tool from 1958-2000 to evaluate circulation and flow characteristics of the water within the estuary system," allowing Army Engineers "to simulate currents, tidal action, sediment movement and the mixing of fresh and salt water. Pollution, salt-water intrusion, barrier and fill studies were a few of the important research projects that have been undertaken at the Bay Model." Writes BLDGBLOG:
I'll then point out that the Bay Model exists within its own timezone: in the world of the Model, one day passes every 14.9 minutes. 30 full days elapse every 7.2 hours. Complete tidal cycles run 3.8 minutes. You can practically feel yourself aging in the presence of this copyscape, its wetlands and alluvial braids of artificial rivers running through fields of pumps and power cords.
Speaking of models: The BBC on the world's only full-scale model of the Millennium Falcon.


One man's doldrums is another man's thrill ride.

Your boring day might be exciting to someone half a world away. At least that's the premise of Your Normal Day, a collaborative project whereby users across the world can contribute a photographic diary of their daily lives. So far, you can peruse quotidian details like the feeding of Nico the dog in Buenos Aires and slipping on a pair of All-Stars in Gold Coast, Australia.

Reclaim the Spectrum

Reclaim the Spectrum, an exhibition at Zemos98 Audiovisual Festival (March 14–18 in Seville), features an array of artists who map and make visible the electromagnetic spectrum we use for today's wireless devices, from radios to cellphones to wifi networks. The show features artists like Anib Jain (above), who, upon discovering that neighbors were poaching her wireless internet connection, set up a yellow chair on the sidewalk to create a free, communal, and in-person experiment with connectivity. Michelle Teran's video installation documents a walk through the city with a portable frequency scanner, intercepting and "microcasting" the footage she captures from wireless video cameras in the area. From moving images recorded at ATMs and bank lobbies, to security cameras in a baby's nursery, her project seems to suggest that privacy is a thing of the past.

The Wayback Machine:
Several years ago, I interviewed collage filmmaker Craig Baldwin, the artist who used kinescopes and found footage to create Spectres of the Spectrum (1999), a film that raised prescient issues about the use and ownership of the airwaves. Read the interview at Version.

Your dossier?

Has the Bush Administration been watching you?
Find out at FOIArequest.org.

The Promethean talents of Gordon Parks

One of the best testaments to the life of Gordon Parks comes from Chuck Olsen's vlog Minnesota Stories. In footage shot for a Twin Cities Public Television documentary, Parks describes one of his most iconic subjects, Ella Watson, a government maintenance worker captured in black-and-white, world-weary with mop in hand, in front of an American flag. The footage illustrates Parks' notion that a camera can be a weapon to combat racism, intolerance and other injustice. But as Chuck quotes, Parks didn't just limit it to that technology:
You don't need the gun, the knife, to do it. You can do it with your pen or your computer, you can do it with a paint brush and so forth. You can be heard, and heard a lot longer and a lot stronger, if you use the right weapons. And those are the weapons that I have chosen.
Another moving tribute comes from the Walker Film/Video blog. In 1996, Parks was honored for his film work with a retrospective and dialogue at the Walker, and here's part of what Michael Eric Dyson wrote in a commissioned essay for that event, "Gordon Parks: Prometheus in Motion":
As Parks sifts through the cache of memories his Promethean talents have created, he refuses to be bitter about the denials, limits and indignities that have been, at one time or another, imposed upon his work. His trials have made him widely empathetic toward victims of any prejudice and skeptical about the privileges of race, class, or nation to establish the proper basis for human interaction. Through the power of his words, this intelligent and sensitive interpreter of human experience has now turned the mirror toward us, as well as himself; we, like Parks, must be judged by the integrity of our response to what we hear and see. Let us hope that we are half as successful as he has been.
Photos: Walker Art Center (top), Library of Congress (bottom)


The Visual Dictionary

The Visual Dictionary is a community-built online compendium of words as they appear in the real world. With apparently hundreds of words already submitted, the site is rich with interesting photos and folk typography. Wondering why? Site founder Matthew Knight admits it just looks cool, but adds, "in time, once the dictionary has more words, there could be plenty of applications for the content, perhaps creating 'ransom note' style emails using images from the dictionary, delivering a word of the day, converting your text into images as you type - the ideas are unlimited."

L'elephant triomphal

In 1758, French architect Charles Ribart proposed an elephant-shaped structure to be erected on the site where the Arc de Triomphe now stands. Equipped with a kind of air conditioning and furniture that would fold up into the walls, the three-level structure would've had a drainage system built into the elephant's trunk.

Update: in comments Joseph Barbaccia points out a more contemporary cousin of Ribart's elephant — Lucy, a 124-year-old structure in Margate, New Jersey, dubbed "the world's largest elephant."



Farmadeliphication (fahr'muh'deli'fi'kay'shun), n. 1. The process of turning all of Philadelphia's vacant and abandoned lots into urban farms: The 'Farmadeliphication' of once decrepit buildings into farm structures advances fresh ways of seeing old structures as well as allowing for an organic transformation of history that contributes to the present day fabric. 2. What might happen if the Front Studio team's entry to the Urban Voids competition moves beyond the conceptual stage.

Farmadelphia proposes a break down of the divisions between ecology and the built environment - a pretty standard mission among urban revitalization advocates these days. But Front's vision doesn't merely sprinkle a community garden here and there; they want to Farmadelphify the whole city...
Inhabitat, possibly my new favorite blog, has more.

And: Gizmodo interviews artist Amy Franceschini, cofounder of Free Soil and Futurefarmers.

They come in threes.

In the past day or so, we've lost Kirby Pucket, Malian guitar master Ali Farka Touré, and maybe saddest of all, photographer Gordon Parks. Rest in peace, fellas.

Walker guest bloggers

I'm pretty excited about this: cyberpunk author, green-design guy, and Wired blogger Bruce Sterling has agreed to guest blog at the Walker's Off Center as has Xeni Jardin of Boingboing, Wired, and NPR fame. The excuse: artist Rirkrit Tiravanija is participating in an exhibition, and Sterling is visiting Minneapolis to do a dialogue with him. Xeni, well, she's cool, and she knows far more about Sterling than I ever will. Check out the details here.

4th Amendment Tape

Here's a clever product/art project/protest tool: the Electronic Frontier Foundation is selling rolls of tape printed with the text of the Fourth Amendment, the one that protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. Perfect for sealing luggage or packages for mailing. "Now, when they open my luggage, they will have to literally slice the 4th amendment in half in order to do this," writes Brad. "Too bad we can’t wrap it around our phone wires..."

Via The Daily Irrelevant


Gay penguins?

The AP:
A children's book about two male penguins that raise a baby penguin has been moved to the nonfiction section of two public library branches after parents complained it had homosexual undertones.

The illustrated book, "And Tango Makes Three," is based on a true story of two male penguins, named Roy and Silo, who adopted an abandoned egg at New York City's Central Park Zoo in the late 1990s.

The book, written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, was moved from the children's section at two Rolling Hills' Consolidated Library's branches in Savannah and St. Joseph in northwest Missouri.

Two parents had expressed concerns about the book last month.

Barbara Read, the Rolling Hills' director, said experts report that adoptions aren't unusual in the penguin world. However, moving the book to the nonfiction section would decrease the chance that it would "blindside" readers, she said.