February 24, 2009
Whereever you go, there you are: One step closer to a Holodeck (SLYT)
Today sees the 100th birthday of August Derleth, the man who founded Arkham House and saved the works of HP Lovecraft from falling out of print. Much of the Cthulhu Mythos cosmology we know today was actually the invention of Derleth, such as the distinction between Elder Gods and Outer Gods, and aligning the various Mythos deities along elemental grounds - something not entirely without controversy in Lovecraftian circles, as were Derleth's posthumous collaborations and Arkham's ownership of Lovecraft's work. Regardless opinions on his work, his impact is indisputable, and his home state of Wisconsin has honoured him by making Febuary 24th August Derleth Day.
Imagine 19th Century America. Say you were out on the Oregon Trail, but instead of dying of dysentery, you ate some ergot-tainted bread and stared at the sun until you went blind? Or perhaps you were enchanted by the dulcet tones of a wonderful singing bull? Probably not the vision of 1800's America that readily springs to mind, unless you are familiar with the singular work of a group that has gone by many names since its founding in 1982, but currently rejoices in Caroliner Rainbow Blumbeigh Treason of the Abyss.. [more inside]
Software startup 280 North today announced Atlas: a rich, web-based environment for developing Mac-like web applications. [more inside]
After 20 years in development, Watchmen has finally had it's premiere. The reviews--both geek and mainstream--have begun to trickle in. Is it a masterpiece or a disaster? Dave Gibbons likes what he's seen. Alan Moore still won't comment (well, about the movie, but he does go on.)
Three police officers were sentenced today for killing 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in a paramilitary-style raid. The officers shot Ms Johnson five or six times and then handcuffed her while they planted drugs in her basement. She bled to death on the floor of her own home. The Agitator covers the story through a single headline headline. The officers will receive Federal sentences of between five and ten years each as well as - a nice touch - being forced to pay for her funeral.
The San Francisco Chronicle to suffer deep cuts and possibly closure. Noting an acceleration of long-standing losses, Hearst is taking drastic steps with the Chronicle, without (in its announcement, at least) any of the brave promises of perseverance which often accompany such news. Sale or (failing that) closure will ensue if the cuts don't work fast enough. Fallen into bankruptcy in the past two months have been publishers of four major newspapers (LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Minneapolis Star-Tribune) -- but so far none of those papers appears in any risk of folding.
Lafayette Gilchrist is one of my favorite piano players. Featured on a Down Beat cover a few months ago (with Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran), he has released a half-dozen or so albums with his group, New Volcanoes, and he's the regular piano player in saxophonist David Murray's quartet. His playing and composition styles are informed by funk, go-go and hip-hop. And he's from Baltimore. Of course, you might also know him from his appearance on the soundtrack to The Wire.
"Once every 48 years, forests of the bamboo known as Melocanna baccifera go into exuberant flower in parts of northeast India [a process called Mautam]. And then, like clockwork, the event is invariably followed by a plague of black rats that spring from nowhere to spread destruction and famine in their wake. For the first time on film, NOVA and National Geographic capture this massive rat population explosion in the kind of vivid detail not possible in 1959, when the last invasion occurred." Airing tonight at 8PM on your local PBS station, or catch it online here beginning tomorrow.
Due to “credible death and kidnapping threats”, T-Pain has cancelled a concert in Guyana for Mashramani, the festival that marks the anniversary of Guyana’s independence from Great Britain. Last years, celebration was soured by a killing spree perpetrated by a heavily armed gang led by man known as “Fine Man”. Because the 23 victims were mainly of East Indian descent, the massacre was a powder keg issue for the tiny South American nation. With a population of 44% East Indian and 30% African ancestries, Guyana tends to be socially and politically divided along ethnic identity lines. [more inside]
Fantasy writer George R. R. Martin responds to fans impatient for the latest installment of his series A Song of Fire and Ice: "Okay, I've got the message. " [more inside]
Snacks and Shit - The premise is simple: A single hip-hop lyric, taken out of context, with bonus commentary.
A single nutrient may have turned early humans into civilized man. Has stripping it from our diet given rise to cancer, diabetes, and other civilized diseases? "There has been a thousandfold increase in the consumption of soybean oil over the past hundred years. The result is an unplanned experiment in brain and heart chemistry, one whose subject is the entire population of the developed world." A series of epidemiological studies showed that populations that consume high levels of omega-3s in the form of seafood are the least afflicted by the major diseases associated with the Western diet. (via) [more inside]
Poaching – not pears, not birds, but plants. In the feed-me-Seymour vein of green and growing things, these are the plants that eat things – too bad they aren’t able to defend themselves from people and habitat loss. But wait! There’s help on the way. [more inside]
29 year old Hiromi Uehara first mesmerized the jazz community with her 2003 Telarc debut, Another Mind. 4 albums later she continues to astonish and inspire. On February 3rd, she released the album Duet, a collaboration with Chick Corea, having first played with Corea at age 17. A graduate of the Berklee School of Music, Hiromi tours relentlessly with her crack band. I defy your jaw not to drop at their performances here, here, and here. [more inside]
See-through Species! Some quick links to a lovely, transparent fish courtesy of Born Animal and Pharyngula [more inside]
New Yorker Films, the only US distributor of many of the films of Jean-Luc Godard, Ousmane Sèmbene, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and many others closed operations yesterday. Many of the films they distributed remain unavailable on DVD, and thus completely unavailable to Americans for the foreseeable future. Coming on the heels of the eviction of Film-Maker's Co-Op, New York's venerable distributor and archive of avant-garde film, New Yorker's closing raises questions not only about the symbiotic importance of repertory film exhibition for film preservation efforts, but about the future of film culture and the possible role of the arts in the future economy.
It is one of the abiding images of the 1984 coal strike - Guardian photographer Don McPhee's picture of a picketing miner facing up to an officer. But what happened to the two protagonists?
"... many critics and editors, especially male ones, make a fetish of "ambition," by which they mean the contemporary equivalent of novels about men in boats ("Moby-Dick," "Huckleberry Finn") rather than women in houses ("House of Mirth"), and that as a result big novels by male writers get treated as major events while slender but equally accomplished books by women tend to make a smaller splash." [more inside]
It's Pancake Day! Also known as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, the day before Lent is celebrated in the UK by events such as football matches, races, and the consumption of mountains of pancakes. Perhaps you celebrated by running a pancake race, like the famous one in Ripon? Or, perhaps, you made some lovely pancakes of your own?
When Resul Pookutty won the Oscar for Sound Mixing last weekend, it's probably the first time an Oscar acceptance speech, or really any U.S. network television broadcast, has mentioned the "primordial syllable," Om, which is very important to Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists.
Meet the new star of street art - 10yr old Solveig. She's painted the Berlin Wall, designed tattoos, and even has her own little female possee, the All Girl Crew.
Well they finally found it. The one person to blame for the entire financial crisis. The man who made it easy to create and rate CDOs. David X. Li - The inventor of the Gaussian Copula
"Iran is dying. The collapse of Iran's birth rate during the past 20 years is the fastest recorded in any country, ever. Demographers have sought in vain to explain Iran's population implosion through family planning policies, or through social factors such as the rise of female literacy. But quantifiable factors do not explain the sudden collapse of fertility. It seems that a spiritual decay has overcome Iran, despite best efforts of a totalitarian theocracy. Second, according to a recent report from the US Council on Foreign Relations, "Iran serves as the major transport hub for opiates produced by [Afghanistan], and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that Iran has as many as 1.7 million opiate addicts." That is, 5% of Iran's adult, non-elderly population of 35 million is addicted to opiates. That is an astonishing number, unseen since the peak of Chinese addiction during the 19th century." [more inside]
On British TV last night, Gail Trimble, a Classics scholar at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, singlehandedly trounced the opposing team in University Challenge. To some a smug, bluestocking know-it-all, to others a role model. Cue the fightback and lots of questions about whether we, as a society, actually like really clever people and specifically, clever women?.
Photographs of The Great Depression of the 1930's to 1940's (previously), and an interview with a survivor growing up during those hard times... posted before on Mefi, here.