The Senate system, political and otherwise, is not designed to stop producing much of anything -- let alone weapons -- especially in a lousy economy. The 58-40 vote to put the F-22 out of it misery offers a ray of hope that intelligent defense decisions can be made in Congress, even if it takes a massive effort by a determined secretary of defense, the president, and arm twisting by Rahm Emanuel. Perhaps the single individual to credit most for this important success is John McCain. Without him, and even with Gates, the vote would have been purely partisan, supplemented by pork crazed Democrats, such as Murray, Boxer, Feinstein, Byrd, and many others.Link
Transparent Aluminium? Finally?
Transparent aluminium, a sci-fi material brought to 20th century Earth by the crew of The Enterprise in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, turns out to exist after all - if you see in X-rays.Link
Solidarity with the Iranian freedom struggle is non-negotiable
Peter Tatchell says solidarity with the Iranian freedom struggle is non-negotiable, no matter how much the US threatens a military strike.
Principled, consistent left-wingers do not base their politics on the unprincipled, inconsistent geo-political manoeuvres of western powers. We stand with the oppressed against their oppressors, regardless of what the west (or anyone else) demands or threatens.Link
Starfish Hitler, Dictator of Hell
Why is it hard to "unlearn" an incorrect fact?
Cognitive psychologist Gordon H. Bower of Stanford University answers:
Identifying, correcting and averting our memory errors are part of a cognitive process called memory monitoring. Incorrect associations can be tough to change, but we can use techniques to retrain our brain.Link
The Era of Iconomania
New York New York: What a time for Iconomania, none of it critical, none of it questioning, none offering deeper perspective or leading to very revealing coverage.Link
When Russia Learned to Read: Literacy and Popular Literature, 1861-1917
I just finished When Russia Learned to Read: Literacy and Popular Literature, 1861-1917, by Jeffrey Brooks, and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in Russian cultural history. It describes the kind of thing people without much education liked to read in the final decades of tsarist Russia and the production and distribution networks that got it to them, and besides resurrecting many long-forgotten writers, publishers, and stories (Brooks must have done a tremendous amount of reading for this project, and clearly enjoyed it judging by the brio with which he summarizes the tales of knights, maidens, ambitious peasants, and wicked foreigners) he brings to light a whole world that's been forgotten in the canonization of High Culture. What I particularly like, besides the information itself, is his democratic take on it; he dislikes as much as I do those nanny types who want to control what the "little people" read and think, and is forthright in his belief that people should be able to have the kind of cultural input they prefer. I'll quote a passage from his Epilogue:LinkThe existence of cheap popular reading material was a prerequisite for the spread of literacy in Russia. Such material had to be of a sort that the newly literate were eager and able to read. In the Russian case, the market proved an effective means for identifying and satisfying the demand of the common reader. Ordinary people showed their preference for commercial popular literature by spending their hard-earned and very few rubles to obtain it. What was extraordinary about Russian popular commercial literature in contrast to Western European and American was its peasant character. Written for peasants and former peasants by people who were close to their world and concerns, it served these often first-generation readers with information and ideas they could readily absorb as they sought to make sense of the changing world around them. To create such a literature, popular writers had to develop a new language for ordinary people, with a shared if limited vocabulary and a common stock of clichés, symbols, and ideas. The establishment of this language of popular communication meant that many ordinary people were able to receive and exchange information through the printed word for the first time. The popular commercial materials in particular contained a fund of shared information that ordinary people could seek out as they needed it. To peasants and former peasants with new expectations and unfamiliar problems to solve, reading about fanciful characters and situations was a crude but simple way of acquiring useful ideas and symbols.In her 1972 Russian Journalism and Politics, 1861-1881: The Career of Aleksei S. Suvorin, Effie Ambler (who never seems to have written anything else) writes "One must bear in mind that most present-day studies of the mid-19th century press commence from a conceptual framework derived from the views of the radical publicists of the time"; after Brooks's work, one cannot commence from that conceptual framework without ostentatiously putting on blinders.
Highgate cemetery: the zenith of nineteenth-century landscape design and funerary architecture
Graveyards in 18-century England were overcrowded and body snatchers active. The Victorians revolted against this, and pressed for secure and hygienic resting places for their dead. A radical reform movement oversaw the building of Highgate, eclectic, ostentatious and quirky.
The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life
In the days when Jean Piaget and Sigmund Freud dominated thinking about child development, small children were thought to be irrational, incoherent, and solipsistic in their thinking and both easily distractible and unfocused in their awareness of the world. Recent work in developmental psychology offers a sharply contrasted picture. "Children are unconsciously the most rational beings on earth," says Alison Gopnik, "brilliantly drawing accurate conclusions from data, performing complex statistical analyses, and doing clever experiments." And not only does empirical work reveal this about babies and small children, but what is thus revealed throws light on some of philosophy's more intriguing questions about knowledge, the self, other minds, and the basis of morality.Link
Military Space: The NRO and the Space Shuttle
Between 1982 and 1992, NASA launched 11 shuttle flights with classified payloads, honoring a deal that dated to 1969, when the National Reconnaissance Office—an organization so secret its name could not be published at the time—requested certain changes to the design of NASA’s new space transportation system. The NRO built and operated large, expensive reconnaissance satellites, and it wanted a bigger shuttle cargo bay than NASA had planned. The spysat agency also wanted the option to fly "once around" polar missions, which demanded more flexibility to maneuver for a landing that could be on either side of the vehicle's ground track.Link
RIP Heinz Edelmann
Heinz Edelmann (June 20, 1934 - July 21, 2009) was a German illustrator and designer. He was born in 1934 in Czechoslovakia. He is a well-known illustrator in Europe, but is probably most famous for his art direction and character designs for the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine.
He also designed Curro for the 1992 Seville World's Fair. He died from heart disease and renal failure in Stuttgart, aged 75.
The human body literally glows
The human body literally glows, emitting a visible light in extremely small quantities at levels that rise and fall with the day, scientists now reveal. [...] Since this faint light is linked with the body's metabolism, this finding suggests cameras that can spot the weak emissions could help spot medical conditions, said researcher Hitoshi Okamura, a circadian biologist at Kyoto University in Japan.
Link (via Magnus Wurzer)
Nanotubes Weigh A Single Atom
How can you weigh a single atom? European researchers have built an exquisite new device that can do just that. It may ultimately allow scientists to study the progress of chemical reactions, molecule by molecule.
Carbon nanotubes are ultra-thin fibres of carbon and a nanotechnologist's dream.Link
A Royalty Fight Over Germany's Most Popular Beer-Hall Yodel
The money-spinning power of 'horlla-rü-di-ri, di-ri, di-ri', the famous chorus of the Kufsteinlied, which is capable of making even the hardiest of lederhosen-clad Germans go weak at the knees, has been keenly felt this week in a Munich courtroom battle over who owns the copyright.
"Love Hurts": Hunter S. Thompson, the Marquis de Sade and St. Paul queer Alain Badiou's truth and fidelity
By Graham Potts.
Generally put, and commonly understood the State of Love in the West is: boy and girl meet (or sometimes boy and boy, or girl and girl, dependent upon codified legal norms in a given state), they 'fall in love' with one and other (and no other from here-on-in), they act on their love by disciplining themselves to the codified laws of the state and/or religious norms into a marriage bond, and forsaking Love in this way for all others (think of the Christian religious proscriptions of: "do you take him/her, forsaking all others" or "till death do you part"), they live happily ever after (unless subject to state or religious forms of reversing this process which is initiated on an individual level, that is: the break-up, separation and divorce).Link
Congo Ignored, Not Forgotten: When 5 million dead aren't worth two stories a year
The wars that have wracked the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1996, killing well over 5 million people (International Rescue Committee, 1/08) in what may be the deadliest conflict since World War II, are officially over. A peace agreement was signed in 2002, and general elections were held in 2006.Link
Common Ground: Learning from Latin American Social Movements
As the global economic crisis expands, a rapidly increasing number of people are seeking ways to combat unemployment, marginalization, corruption, repression and other problems. Such challenges have faced millions of Latin Americans for decades, and as a result, many successful grassroots solutions to economic crisis have been developed by people in communities across the continent. In this essay, I propose that strategies from Latin American social movements can be applied elsewhere in the world to build better societies.Link
Twittering Program Notes In Real Time? D.C.'s National Symphony Will Give It A Try
Conductor Emil de Cou has prepared real-time program notes to Beethoven's Sixth [Symphony] that will be beamed to Twitterati sitting on the lawn of Wolf Trap July 30.
It's an interesting variation on a palm-held device, tried out by some orchestras a few years ago, that texted program notes as a performance was in progress. There were skeptics then, and I can imagine there will be howls and scowls from some corners about the Twitter application, but you just know this was bound to happen. And what a great thing this will be for those folks who can't go more than a minute or two without staring down at some sort of electronic device in their hands.Link
Out of our minds: How did humans come down from the trees and why did no one follow?
In the 6 million years since hominids split from the evolutionary ancestor we share with chimpanzees and bonobos, something happened to our brains that allowed us to become master cooperators, accumulate knowledge at a rapid rate, and manipulate tools to colonize almost every corner of the planet.
Iran - Empire / Video
Whatever the outcome of the recent troubles, Iran sees itself as a natural leader in the region. It is determined to follow an independent foreign policy, and regards the nuclear question as a matter of national pride, and nobody elses business. With war raging all around it, we ask: is Iran a regional influence, or an international threat?Part 1:
Giovanni Arrighi: The Winding Paths of Capital
The author of Long Twentieth Century and Adam Smith in Beijing, interviewed by David Harvey, on dispossession and development, capitalist crises, China's future. The political education of a teenage factory-manager, via African liberation struggles and autonomia operaia; and influences—Braudel, Gramsci, Smith, Marx—in Arrighi's work.
Foster And Koolhaas To Plan Hong Kong's New Cultural District
Foster + Partners has been given a second chance to masterplan the $2.7 billion West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong The British starchitect, together with Rem Koolhaas and local designer Rocco Yim Sen-kee, make up the three-strong team named as consultants on the conceptual plans for the cultural and artistic hub.Link
Humanity and the Future of Smartness
Seventy-four thousand years ago, humanity nearly went extinct. A super-volcano at what's now Lake Toba, in Sumatra, erupted with a strength more than a thousand times that of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Some 800 cubic kilometers of ash filled the skies of the Northern Hemisphere, lowering global temperatures and pushing a climate already on the verge of an ice age over the edge. Some scientists speculate that as the Earth went into a deep freeze, the population of Homo sapiens may have dropped to as low as a few thousand families.Link
Roboexotica 2009 / Call
Finally we can announce a date. Roböxotica 2009 -- and 11 YEARS OF ROBÖXOTICA!! -- will take place in Vienna from December 3 thru December 6.
Roboexotica (or Roböxotica) is the first and inevitably leading festival concerned with cocktail robotics.
Until recently, no attempts had been made to publically discuss the role of cocktail robotics as an index for the integration of technological innovations into the human Lebenswelt, or to document the increasing occurrence of radical hedonism in man-machine communication. Roboexotica is an attempt to fill this vacuum. It is the first and, inevitably, the leading festival concerned with cocktail robotics world-wide. A micro mechanical change of paradigm in the age of borderless capital. Alan Turing would doubtless test this out.
Scientists, researchers, computer geeks and artists from all over the world participate to build cocktail robots and discuss about technological innovation, futurology and science fiction.
Roboexotica is a cooperation with Shifz and 'Bureau für Philosophie', Vienna.
Arse Elektronika 2009 Film Festival: "Of Intercourse and Intracourse"
The 2009 Arse Elektronika Festival is coming to San Francisco October 1-4, 2009. On October 1, we'll be holding the first Arse Electronika Film Festival at the Roxie Theatre, and we would like you to participate.
Arse Elektronika is focused on sex and technology, and we are looking for films that express a vision of that intersection. Documentary or dramatic, short or feature-length, live-action or animation, experimental or narrative, explicit or not, any presentation is fascinating as long as it brings out a new way of thinking about how humanity as a sexual creature and as a tool-using animal combine.
Send in submissions via WithoutABox. Films of any length (up to 90 minutes) will be considered. We'll need to receive all materials, including a DVD of the movie, by August 31, 2009.
For More Information
For more information about the Arse Elektronika conference, contact us at arse09 AT monochrom.at.
For more information about the film festival, contact Blowfish at festival AT blowfish.com.
Blowfish is proud to be the organizing sponsor of the Arse Elektronika Film festival.
monochrom/Ignite/GETV drinkup in Seattle
Monday, July 6, 9 PM we are having a cozy drinkup together with Ignite and GETV at Seattle's Zig Zag Cafe. Join us, freaks!
Soviet Unterzoegersdorf @ Toorcamp: A Triumphant Gala Using Public Domain Clipart
Let the proletarians sing with joy! Let us celebrate a glorious triumph! Soviet Unterzoegersdorf's ambassador Nikita Perostek Chrusov will be giving a speech at a former ICBM silo in Washington State! On the 4th of July! Surrounded by volcanic dust and libertarian nerds! The irony!
Saturday, 4th of July, 2009.
Hacking the Spaces @ Toorcamp
"Hacking the Spaces" / Workshops @ Toorcamp
"Change the nerds. Make them a better space. For you and for me and the entire human race."
July 2-5, 2009 in Moses Lake, Washington State, USA.
External monochrom links:
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