March 9, 2008
Chattel houses were very small houses, built by freed slaves or plantation workers, that could be dismantled quickly and moved in the event they were fired or unable to pay property tax to the plantation owner on whose land the house stood. Examples in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad l Sunday 25 March 2007 marked 200 years to the day that the British Parliament passed an Act to outlaw the slave trade in British colonies. [more inside]
Captain Disillusion has created a series of videos that provide a skeptical analysis of sensational viral videos. One in particular, “Gas Station Ghost RECUT” addresses an unusual image caught on a gas station surveillance camera.
The Battery's Down is a new musical web series about an aspiring New York actor, Jake Wilson - ostensibly playing himself. Written and directed by Wilson, it also contains cameos by Broadway actors - and feature songs composed by up-and-coming musical theatre composers (each song is also available for download). [more inside]
The editor of the New York Times Book Review asks "do others have favorite signature passages in books they love — a sentence or two that seem to convey the essence of a complex, beautiful work?" after giving his own example from To The Finland Station. Hundreds respond, often with some wonderful passages (as well as some not so wonderful ones). Any examples from the hive mind?
This year's elections in Malaysia are historic due to the major wins by the Opposition/People's Front and the National Front's loss of 5 states and the 2/3 majority in parliament (one they've held since 1969) (comparisons). Two of the newly elected Members of Parliament are bloggers Tony Pua and Jeff Ooi; another blogger, Elizabeth Wong, has won a seat in the state assembly of the now-Opposition-run Selangor. This is significant, as Malaysian bloggers had been under attack by the government. (last link YouTube video in Malay with subtitles).
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor. The Holodomor was the starvation of millions of Ukranians at the hands of the Soviets. The Ukranian government is using this year to push for greater recognition for the genocide. Ukranian communities in Australia, Canada and all over the globe are holding events all year in the lead up to this years Holodomor day on November 25.
"AngryJournalist.com, an increasingly popular site that consists of nothing but rants from pissed-off reporters, is now the most accurate summation extant of journalism as an industry," (via Gawker). It's spawned a marvelously less popular HappyJournalist.com, and what appears to be an unrelated copycat called AngryResident.com, for "for every doctor-in-training tired of suffering in silence."
G-Archiver is a windows shareware app that backs up your gmail account to your local harddrive. it also does something far more sinister: it emails your username and password to the creator of the program. (via)
Arelia Margarita Taveras “made a name for herself representing the families of victims of American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed in New York City's borough of Queens in November 2001, killing 265 people.#+ Her practice had 400 clients and earned her $500,000 a year.” She claims that she sought to relieve the pressures of her work by gambling in Atlantic City and Las Vegas over the past few years. She lost $1 million and was disbarred as a result of stealing money from clients [PDF] in order to support her gambling addiction. Taveras also lost her own home and that of her parents (who mortgaged it to support her debt). Taveras owes the IRS $58,000. In response she has filed a $20 million racketeering lawsuit in federal court against six Atlantic City casinos and one in Las Vegas, “claiming they had a duty to notice her compulsive gambling problem and cut her off.”
Had enough election coverage this year? If not-- or if you forgot that countries besides the USA have elections too-- you can see details of elections the world over via Electoral Geography 2.0. Browse elections in chronological order or by country, or read scholarly articles on various elections. Not comprehensive (yet!); in general, the more recent, the more coverage.
Drugs in the water A new Associated Press study finds that "A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans." Surely, though, the detected quantities are far too small to have any effect on the public. Maybe not - "scant amounts may exert powerful effects". Also: "What makes pharmaceutical pollution so worrisome is that the usual safeguards that protect us from bacteria and toxins, fail to rid sewage of these chemicals." [more inside]
The ever-wonderful Strange Maps blog comes up with the goods again: Area codes in which Ludacris claims to have 'hoes'. "I’m a female and a feminist. I dislike the usage of the word ‘ho’. However, as a geography major, I find this song hilarious, and had to map it,” says Stephanie Gray, referring to Area Codes [NSFW] by the rap artist Ludacris... In this song, Ludacris brags about the area codes where he knows women, whom he refers to as ‘hoes’,” says Ms Gray, who plotted out all the area codes mentioned in this song on a map of the United States. She arrived at some interesting conclusions as to the locations of this rapper’s preferred female companionship."
Have you ever wondered how much a hamster can store in his cheeks without exploding? Smoke will show you. (Single link YouTube post)
The Great Falkland Islands Oil Boom The inhabitants of the Falkland Islands are preparing for a South Atlantic oil rush which they hope will make them among the richest people in the world. After 10 years of frustrating delays since oil fields containing up to 60 billion barrels of "black gold" were discovered off the islands, oil companies are planning to start drilling within the next 12 months. It may also go down as the catalyst for the "Second Falklands Island War".
So, you hollow out piece of wood into an oblong bowl shape, and you attach a dowel to it. Stretch a dried animal skin over that, and put some strings on it. Instruments of this general construction and in a range of sizes can be found from Morrocco to Nigeria and everywhere in between. It goes by any number of local names: Malian masters like Bassekou Kouyaté and Cheick Hamala Diabaté call it ngoni. Senegalese Wolof griots like Samba Aliou Guissé call it xalam. And Morroccan gnawa musicians like Hassan Hakmoun and Hamid El Kasri get way funky on the larger version that they call the gimbri or sentir. [not: see hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
The World's 50 Best Works of Art (and how to see them) in the opinion of critic Martin Gayford. [more inside]