MetaFilter posts by adamgreenfield.
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Having trouble articulating your thoughts lately? Not quite up to snuff, intellectually — or at least not the whipsmart organizer of ideas you're sure you used to be? Maybe you're just breathing bad air.
posted on Aug-27-18 at 2:30 PM

"It is beyond honest dispute that the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan] did not achieve what their organizers promised, no matter the party in power or the generals in command. Astonishingly expensive, strategically incoherent, sold by a shifting slate of senior officers and politicians and editorial-page hawks, the wars have continued in varied forms and under different rationales each and every year since passenger jets struck the World Trade Center in 2001. They continue today without an end in sight, reauthorized in Pentagon budgets almost as if distant war is a presumed government action." This is the story of one of the survivors of America's seventeen years and counting in Afghanistan, Specialist Robert Soto of Bravo Company, First Battalion, 26th Infantry, and the year he spent at a remote outpost in the Korengal Valley.
posted on Aug-8-18 at 5:29 AM

Officially branded as terrorists by the authoritarian regime of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, alternately supported, disregarded and threatened by the US in this era of incoherent strategic policy, the autonomous citizens of Rojava — or the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria — have been left to fend for themselves in the face of a brutal and largely indiscriminate onslaught by the Turkish military. Now a selection of prominent American academics and public intellectuals has launched the Emergency Committee for Rojava, with an urgent call to support and defend this unique experiment with popular control and self-management.
posted on Apr-24-18 at 5:19 AM

Who needs Hyperloop when we could have been getting around all this time in hovercraft trains? That's right: I said hovercraft trains! Get your fill of air-cushioned, levitating nerdery after the jump.
posted on Nov-6-17 at 10:47 AM

New York City's Karen Barbarossa is reading the Biblioteca Adelphi catalogue, in order, from 1965 through now. All of it. That's 653 titles, to date.
posted on Aug-25-16 at 12:58 PM

Respect the cock! Or duck, as the case may be. Avian co-evolution in action, from the New York Times.
posted on May-1-07 at 10:06 AM

Three chords and four noble truths: on Philadelphia's legendary Buddhist hardcore band of the 1980s, Ruin.
posted on Mar-9-07 at 9:11 PM

The annotated G.W. Bush A little over a week ago, we discussed the Institute for the Future of the Book and their publication of the Iraq Study Group Report in a profoundly innovative new format designed to elicit, y'know, democracy: reasoned deliberation on issues of importance on the part of the governed. At the time, I expressed my opinion that the publication set a new standard for the release of public documents in a democracy. Well, they've done it again, with this rapid-turnaround publication of our preznit's most recent address to the nation, outlining his new strategy for Iraq. Interested members of the public are invited to append their "comments, criticisms and clarifications."
posted on Jan-11-07 at 7:33 AM

"[T]he heart of the Christian religion, all that is good and compassionate within it, has been tossed aside, ruthlessly gouged out and thrown into a heap with all the other inner organs. Only the shell, the form, remains. Christianity is of no use to Parsley, Blackwell and the others. In its name they kill it." From Michelle Goldberg's searing Salon interview with Chris Hedges, whose War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning I admired the hell out of.
posted on Jan-7-07 at 9:07 PM

No shopping. No presents. No guilt.
posted on Nov-24-04 at 3:28 PM

Political discourse in these desperate days is - as we all know - very much a no-holds-barred affair. We have come to expect that political debate will be nasty, personal, based on appeals to emotion, and largely divorced from consideration of real-world consequences of the positions claimed. Still, I hope we can agree that some rhetorical flourishes are simply unacceptable in civil society. Like this piece of vileness from Adam Yoshida, imagining that "the future of the Democratic Party [is] providing Republicans with a number of cute (but not that bright) comfort women." You read that right: "comfort women." Left, right, or center, I hope we can all agree that we are within measurable distince of moral surrender if this sort of rhetoric goes unchallenged. Or is this really what we've come to? (Via Atrios, upon whose summary I cannot improve.)
posted on Nov-10-04 at 7:24 AM

Is a government-sponsored Web any kind of Web at all? Iranians will soon find out, including MeFite hoder, prominently featured in the linked piece (and, worrisomely, recipient of his very own death threat this week). More information on Iranian and Persian bloggers here.
posted on Nov-8-04 at 8:17 PM

Driven, immodest, intense and abrasive, Jeffrey Sachs is clearly a man on a mission. That mission is ending global poverty in our lifetimes. Can the man who once administered "shock therapy" to a reeling Russia, with tragic if predictable results, redeem himself? And even if the developed world somehow comes to a consensus that this is a project worth undertaking, would it work? (Apologies for yet another NYT piece.)
posted on Nov-7-04 at 8:09 PM

Neon lights - shimmering neon lights. And at the fall of night, this city's made of light. - Kraftwerk.
posted on Nov-5-04 at 6:08 PM

The architect as total designer. In 1959, Danish architect Arne Jacobsen shattered paradigms aplenty with his SAS Hotel (represented now by its last remaining original room, the legendary 606). The hotel was intended as a single field of experience; from seating and lighting (more here and here) to table service, Jacobsen was intimately involved in almost every aspect of the hotel's physical interface with its guests. The result is a work of deeply pleasing harmony that still looks fresh some four and a half decades later. MeFites in Copenhagen: how's it holding up?
posted on Oct-6-04 at 11:24 AM

On the origins and history of the military (marching/running) cadence. Some were straightforwardly about identity, some inevitably about the performance of bloodthirstyness, but it always seemed to me that the most rewarding and enjoyable cadences to sing were those that were simply special cases of an older tradition: the working man's blues. A platoon run to cadence in the Fort Knox gloaming may be one of the few purely vocal expressions remaining, at that, now that others have fallen by the wayside.
posted on Oct-4-04 at 6:46 PM

Women I grew up worshipping: Penelope Houston, Poly Styrene, Exene, Tina Weymouth. (God knows I'm forgetting a few.) The distaff side of punk and, uh, new wave, at their most lyrical, outraged, and articulate.
posted on Oct-3-04 at 4:30 PM

OK, OK, we've all heard by now about Virgin Galactic, and their plan to offer customers a markedly suborbital ride and a few underwhelming minutes of zero-G. But some of us know that the future of commercial spaceflight still and always belongs to Pan Am, whose proud (though marred) building still stands in Midtown like a sign pointing to a better, more glamorous future - a future we'd almost stopped beliving in. What a shame that the legendary airline's current, much-reduced incarnation has such humble ambitions: seems to me we need to dream like this, now more than ever.
posted on Oct-2-04 at 11:16 AM

In the wake of last Sunday's New York Times piece on gang-driven strife in Central America, the heartbreaking photography of Donna De Cesare. (Hat tip: Sharon Schoen.)
posted on Oct-1-04 at 11:04 AM

New! Fast! Automatic! Now! Archigram!
posted on Sep-30-04 at 9:47 AM

Utopian Christians, despisers of all ornament, in some rough sense protomodernists, the eighteenth- and nineteeth-century millenarian cult known disparagingly as the Shakers has had an impact on the history of design far in excess of its size. (At most, there were only ever a few thousand, and it's easy to understand why, given their emphasis on "perfection" to the point of celibacy.) Key to the Shaker world view was the perfectability of the material world - its purgation of all decoration, artifice and frippery - as an act of worship. This ethos of design, summarized in these theses toward the improvement of the domestic environment, has gifted us with a legacy of highly esteemed craft objects. None has been more celebrated than that canny apotheosis of domestic utility, the Shaker rail, which survives here in a particularly nice contemporary interpretation. If only half the artifacts we're currently offered were as thoughtfully designed...
posted on Sep-29-04 at 9:43 AM

The incredible Michelle Yeoh. The irresistible Maggie Cheung. And now Zhang Ziyi? Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation...of asskicking Asian action heroines.
posted on Sep-28-04 at 9:28 AM

The evocation of dystopian space with contemporary settings. One of the many challenges faced by directors of low- or no-budget SF films is the convincing depiction of futuristic space, especially where it needs to appear oppressive or totalising. What are you to do, when you lack the wherewithal to create elaborate sets, and even the cheesiest CGI is well out of reach?

You use extant buildings and artifacts, and you crop carefully. But which ones? Frank Lloyd Wright's Marin County Civic Center appears particularly popular in this context: here it is in THX1138, and here in Gattaca - the latter a film which also featured the Citroen DS and Studi Avanti to precisely evocative effect. (What's so sinister about this poor building? In real life it's stunningly pretty.)

Jean-Luc Godard had a field day in Alphaville, with the anomic architecture of mid-60s, high modernist Paris, and again with the same sorts of mainframe installations Lucas relied so heavily upon in THX. Even (cough) Logan's Run found low-rent dystopia in various Dallas and Fort Worth settings, here Fort Worth's Water Gardens.

Maybe the poor Marin Center's a bit played out, huh? As an aid to future directors, then, let me ask you: What are some dystopic settings near you?
posted on Sep-27-04 at 9:11 AM

Ant Farm's "Media Burn."
posted on Sep-26-04 at 9:08 AM

For Westerners, the index case of subculture has to be the 1960s UK conflict between the razor-sharp, tailored mods and their mortal enemies, the greasy rockers.

Difference was critical to these first self-identified youth subcultures: difference in dress, in music, in drug of choice, in the favored mode of transport...everything. This obsessive focus on not just standing out, but standing out just so - on showing the world precisely the right angle of a hat, length of a coat, shortness of hair - has defined many a subculture since. We recognize b-boys, ganguro girls, and straightedge punks by such deployments, among many, many other identifiable groups. (It's not just a youth thing, either: leathermen and the delightfully recrudescent roller derby culture are largely adult phenomena.)

To a devotee of a given subculture, such matters, far from being a "narcissism of small differences," are a matter of pivotal import in framing how one presents oneself to the world: how we want to be seen, how we want others to understand us. But I'm getting older now, and further out of the loop, and I realize that just maybe I'm losing the ability to discern these differences in the people I pass walking down the street. I find myself asking, who and where are the new subcultures? And how do they choose to present themselves to us?
posted on Sep-25-04 at 8:30 AM

Once the stuff of academic and corporate experimentation, ubiquitous computation (or "ubicomp") is gearing up for its commercial debut in the very near future. Along the lines of ostensibly "nanotechnological" pants, the reality of ubicomp as made manifest in consumer products may fall somewhat short of the prognostications: buying a personal communicator designed to work seamlessly within a ubicomp context is not the same thing as living in and with a truly pervasive network.

But already there are signs that the ubiquitous visions beloved by the corporate players and enshrined in their hype are coming into being. So which do you think it'll be? Guardian angel or inescapable, panoptical prison? Neither? Maybe both? I have a sinking feeling we're going to find out, one way or another.
posted on Sep-24-04 at 6:23 AM

The Situationists famously had their own ideas about cities, and about how to city them; in particular, they held forth the derive, or aimless drift, as the ideal way to encounter and make sense of urban place. It's easy to caricature the derive as an essentially passive mode of experience, but it was intended to be anything but: a playful, lively, engaged, and above all social act.

Now that cities are where most of us live, for better or worse, and we have the ability to document our travels through these conurbations and share them over the Web, might it be safe to say that Situationist psychogeography has gone mainstream? That the moblogged drift, in fact, takes things to an entirely new level, by making the city and its flows not merely more legible to ourselves, but visible to a potentially global audience?
posted on Sep-23-04 at 6:20 AM

Yes, that Lincoln Center. So we've briefly noted the clever hack by way of which game engines, in this case, Halo's, can be used to make movies. The best-known of these is the bleakly humorous Red vs. Blue - which, if it isn't exactly this generation's "M*A*S*H" or "Catch-22," rather manages to capture something of the futility of postmodern warfare. Still: is this an opus you'd have pegged to premiere at New York City's vaunted high-culture mecca?
posted on Dec-19-03 at 9:56 PM

Ouch! In honor of swordsman, litterateur, scenarist, bodybuilding enthusiast, homosexualist, fascist, and all-around nutball Mishima Yukio, who did the deed 23 years ago today, here's Wikipedia's intruiging list of famous suicides. Now, the West used to have its own tradition of suicide on the part of those who preferred death to dishonor. Apart from various Koreshian poseurs, the demonstrably insane, and those vainglorious fellows who arrange suicide-by-cop, whatever happened to this tradition?
posted on Nov-25-03 at 11:33 AM

Long, interesting article in the NYT Sunday Magazine (reg. req'd, apologies) about a putatively "underground" community of black men who have sex with other men and who do not self-identify as gay.

There's more than a few problems with the piece. The reportage has a kind of breathless/clueless tone to it - like when the author identifies the phrase "on the DL" as originating in a 1990's TLC song (!) - and a pseudoanthropological, National Geographic stink of imputed Otherness hangs over the whole enterprise, but I found it compelling anyway. If nothing else, it's an introduction to a entire new subculture I had always assumed the existence of, but never seen. (I particularly liked the NYT piece's excursion to a low-rent thug-life amateur pr0n operation. Gibson was right: the street does indeed find its own uses for technology.)
posted on Aug-1-03 at 8:04 PM

The Tragic Mulatto wore Doc Martens. In this NYT Magazine piece, Paul Tough explores the uneasy case of white supremacist Leo Felton - a would-be racial holy warrior who happens to be biracial, the child of a white woman and a black man.

While "passing" has always, always been fraught with risks and contradictions, this is one of the more charged, vivid, and frankly depressing examples in recent memory. But is there some hope bound up in it? With "race" increasingly being understood as a social construct, some seven million Americans identifying themselves as "multiracial," and an interracial community replete with its own voices, was Leo Felton the prophet of something entirely other than what he thought?
posted on May-24-03 at 1:47 AM

Young-hae Chang's latest, Operation Nukorea, is shattering, unflinching, and beautifully executed. It's a little tale about consequences, and what happens downstream from decisions not sufficiently considered.

It probably would have brought tears to my eyes even if I did not have family in Seoul. Watch it through to the end.
posted on Apr-18-03 at 11:39 PM

Japanese Sound Effects and what they mean. Spotted on Gen Kanai's blog: this rather comprehensive list of sound-effect words from manga - the Japanese equivalent of BAM! WAP!, OOF! (and possibly even D'OH!), but covering a wider range of social and emotional terrain. Lest you surmise that these are more or less arbitrary, I "tested" ten or so on my fiancee and found that she knew every single one. Aaaa!
posted on Apr-3-03 at 7:44 PM

Superseding the mainstream media, or "quirky parasites"? Less of interest here than the IraqFilter context itself - which amounts to the question "Is blogging to Gulf II what TV was to Vietnam and cable was to Gulf I?" - is an established medium caught in the act of visibly sizing up this comer, this new kid on the block, this parvenu we know as "blogging." Is it a valid new medium of reportage, fit to take its place alongside print and broadcast? Or is it merely parasitic, interstitial, even marginal? Inquiring minds want to know. (Note O'Donnell's hedges and his final & bizarrely misplaced condescension: "Maybe Allbritton will start a trend - bloggers no longer dependent on the mainstream for their material." WTF?)
posted on Apr-1-03 at 8:50 PM

Whither Sarsi? How come it's so dang hard to find Web sites on my favorite soft drink from the Phillipines, the "sarsaparilla from Manila"? Why does the bottling concern say so very, very little about the delectable syrup with the "distinctive Filipino taste."? It has its partisans (none so fervent as this fellow) and its detractors, but nary an official site. What gives?
posted on Jan-27-03 at 2:03 AM

Moblogging! Yesterday's Guardian Unlimited features a gently snarky piece by Jane Perrone, introducing a wider world to the possibilities of camera+mobile phone+Web publishing, à la HipTop Nation. By my count, that's one month, five days from the word's coining to its first appearance in the major media (if you think the Guardian counts as such, that is). Given such rapid memetic uptake, what do you think: flash in the pan, or new social structure abornin'? (Full disclosure: my site is linked from Perrone's piece.)
posted on Dec-13-02 at 12:01 AM

This is the text of a painting called "Arsewoman in Wonderland," shortlisted for the UK's Turner Prize 2002. Fiona Banner's painting consists entirely of a textual narration of a porn film; specifically, a porn film dedicated to an extended exploration of anal sex, with an "Alice in Wonderland" theme. (Apparently, dwarves are also involved.) The Turner, which comes with a £20,000 purse, ostensibly recognizes the best British art. Now, I love a good conceptual dig as much as the next guy, but does Banner's painting really challenge the way we "compartmentalise private and public behaviour," let alone represent the best the British art world has to offer?
posted on Dec-8-02 at 8:17 PM

Cheer up, things could be worse. War hysteria and Republican triumphalism got you down? Contemplate the array of potential extinction-level events that Nature has seen fit to confront us with, no matter what we monkeys choose to do. What do you think? Are we approaching another evolutionary bottleneck?
posted on Nov-10-02 at 8:17 PM

A million Japanese boys, hiding in their rooms. I didn't know about this - but then again, by definition, maybe I wouldn't. Domestic hermits aside, I frequently see behavior I'd identify as "borderline mentally ill" slide right under people's radar here in Tokyo, and I'm certain a nihonjin might think the same thing after a year in my hometowns, New York and San Francisco. What culturally-specific form does neurosis take in your neck of the woods?
posted on Oct-20-02 at 2:35 AM

That's "hearts and minds" to you, sunshine. As a former PSYOPer my ownself, I found this Village Voice primer on the field reasonably accurate on the facts, if rather skewed as to their interpretation. But what's a nonviolently-inclined soldier to do? What other methods of "winning without fighting" might be acceptable to a leadership seemingly hell-bent on bloodshed?
posted on Oct-10-02 at 1:29 AM

Does "Tiktok Easy Shop Big Box" remind anyone else of something from a Phil Dick novel? The deli-size vending machine comes to DC's "raffish" Adams-Morgan neighborhood. Will Your Town Be Next?
posted on Aug-29-02 at 11:44 PM