Saturday, February 16, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
What if New York City were totally trashed in a disaster? That was the premise for a design competition that spawned this Cloud City idea by Studio Lindfors. It was one the Selected Entries in the "What if New York City…" design competition, where designers dreamed up this concept where New Yorkers are lifted above the rubble in blimp houses, staying together as a community while crews clear away the mess below.
The fanciful design doesn't mention what the blimp inhabitants will do while suspended above the city, or how they might get down from there if they want to, say, get some food. And what happens if an airship's wires are somehow cut loose or lose their grip on their tempest-tossed moorings below? Perhaps floating above New York, with a expansive panoramic view of the devastation would be cathartic, but some disaster victims might find it downright depressing. There are pretty pictures of the concept in the gallery below, but we're thinking it might just be better to get outta town if havoc strikes.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Derrick Bostrom kindly scanned pages from a book called 1975: And the Changes To Come by Arnold B. Barach.
The book was published in 1962 and has photos and captions about the ways in which technology will change our lives in the coming decade. Here's some of the wonderful things we can expect when 1975 rolls around: Utrasonic dishwashers, combination electronic oven and food freezers, portable ovens (for tabletop cooking and broiling), toaster bacon, triple purpose TV unit ("for the housewife, enabling her to watch her children at play or identify visitors at the door or watch her favorite color television program"), wireless cardiac monitors, irradiated canned beans, and automatic language translation.
Caption for photo above:
Film Based Teaching Machine. Student pushes one of four buttons to give answers and his score appears on paper slip at upper right. Teaching machines, expected to boom in the next decade, usually operate on the principal of repetition until the pupil understands. They aim to speed up the learning process and relieve teacher of much paper work in the classroom.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
HelpHelpHelp! The US military won't embed me, I'm stranded at the Kuwait Starbucks, the airline lost my luggage & I have no Plan B!
Relax people. Five million dollars is not that much money. It's like eight or nine graduation speeches and a couple of Bat Mitzvah appearances.
You see if Romney received a donation to his campaign, it would go straight into it. (Idiot.) But if you give me a donation, it'll go to paying me back. See, I fronted you the money that you should have donated to me in the first place. Don't think of this as some sort of Ponzi scheme. Think of it more like a False Hope tax. You naively let Barack charm your pants off you, and I'm here to bail you out. So give me the money to let me do that.
Also, allow me to make a wild accusation. Yesterday after I proudly announced that I had raised a cool million in a single day, Barack announced he raised 2.2 million. He's on pace for another 30 million dollar month. And February has two less days!
Barack, what kind of operation is your candidacy a front for? Heroine? Cloned baby organs?
Readers help me out with this … (Note to my miserly supporters … leaving a comment is free)
- more at Hillary Clinton's blog -
Women who breastfeed in public but then make a big show of hiding it as if I care.
Total strangers telling me what to do, especially square-dance callers.
Those pretentious phonies who say "pasta" instead of paste or "Boca Raton" instead of rat's mouth.
Itchy labels on bungee ankle straps so I itch the whole way down.
When my opera cape gets caught on homeless people's junk.
Waiters who recite the specials in a bored singsong voice as if they don't really care what I eat.
Bad art in motel rooms, especially bad performance art.
When a woman stands near me and people think her ugly baby is mine and it is.
Dentists who cram my mouth full and don't even ask me one question, though I've been practicing all year.
Big, conceited bodies of water, especially Lake Superior.
- Havelock Ellis -
"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered."
- G. K. Chesterton -
"The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we have of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us."
- Quentin Crisp -
"When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion."
- C. P. Snow -
"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties."
- Sir Francis Bacon -
"Dance like it hurts, love like you need money, work when people are watching."
- Scott Adams: The Way of the Weasel -
"2 is not equal to 3, not even for large values of 2."
- Grabel's Law -
"Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity."
- Albert Camus -
"Why do writers write? Because it isn't there."
- Thomas Berger -
"The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson -
"Everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not discover it."
- Alfred North Whitehead -
"The people I distrust most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action."
- Frank Herbert -
"The ability to delude yourself may be an important survival tool."
- Jane Wagner -
A congressional commission has concluded that the National Guard remains unprepared to deal with a wide range of domestic disasters.
Reserve units have been subject to repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The report states that "The high operational use of Reserve equipment in the current conflicts has degraded their readiness for both combat operations and domestic emergency response," expressing particular alarm over inadequate funding by the Pentagon which has in the Guard's insufficient training for a chemical, biological or nuclear strike.
"This is an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk," the panel states. Indeed, several governors have complained that, due to heavy participation of the National Guard overseas, their units have been unable to deal with natural disasters from Hurricane Katrina to the more recent tornadoes.
However, the Bush administration has deliberately not instituted a draft, knowing that the streets would be filled with protesters, as happened during the Vietnam War, when young people wore buttons proclaiming, "Not With My Body, You Don't." Instead, a slick propaganda campaign to seduce more young people into the Guard is now in process.
Take, for example a video of the band 3 Doors Down performing "Citizen Soldier." At this writing, it's approaching 795,000 views on YouTube.
The scene begins on a sunny day at an idyllic campus where the guys are playing touch football on the grass. Suddenly it segues to a battle-worn military man picking a deflated football out of the mud, followed by images of marching and running, tanks and helicopters, flags waving in the wind and a wounded buddy being helped, automatic rifles and guided missiles.
Here's a sample of the lyrics: "When they're people crying in the streets/ When they're starving for a meal to eat/ When they simply need a place to make their beds/ Right here underneath my wing you can rest your head." Meanwhile, there are - superimposed on the imagery - generic citizen-soldier quotes such as "I fired the shot that started a nation," "I am an expert, I stormed the beach at Normandy" and "I stepped forward when the towers fell."
But wait, there's more. One minute into the three-and-a-half minute song, an occasional hazy flash of something subliminal begins to appear, and finally reveals itself as the National Guard logo. In fact, the rights to "Citizen Soldier" belong to 3 Doors Down, Universal/Republic Records and - yeah, you guessed it - the National Guard. Following are some of the almost 6,500 comments, with the original spelling, grammar and punctuation intact.
- "nobodys to young for there opion on the war except if your like 10 and below it most likly dosent matter. this is just a side note. when making my youtube profile it messed up my age and where i live. i'm acully 15 and live in america, and i have been told befor im to young for my opion on this kind of stuff to matter."
- "So many hate the war, and yes it is horrible how we losse so many innicot lifes. People say that the president is a horrible man for sending are troops over sees for th is. but what wold have happened if he did not? wold the ones that attaked us really settled for the damage that they did? the troops are fufiing there duty, and god bless them. they arnt bad people. there defending us. they are kepping us safe, no matter what you think, they are keeping you safe."
- "Oh com'on! there's no anti-terrorism war! Do you think that 'I'm sending my troops where it's supposed to be a lot of terrorists in order to reduce terrorism' makes sense? I'd pray for my soldiers as long as th ey stay into my own boundaries ;-)"
- "If this video gave you a hard-on for killing, you are both an idiot and have probably never been face to face with combat. War is an ugly thing, and NOBODY should ever want to kill. The greatest feeling I have when wearing my uniform is when a young child says thank you and I am there to help out my fellow American who needs a hand up in a time of need. NY National Guard, attached to the 27th Infantry Brigade, combat veteran of Mogadishu Somalia."
- "I saw this video when i went to see Saw IV and I was clapping after the video was over...really awesome...HOOOOOAAAAAH!"
Well, so much for gung-ho patriotism. All I know is that when I was speaking at a college a few years ago, I overheard a student lamenting to his friends, "I didn't know that the National Guard was the fucking Army!"
Paul Krassner's underground magazine The Realist attracted a large counterculture following in the '60s and '70s. He is a founding member of the Yippies. He is the author of One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist, and publisher of the Disneyland Memorial Orgy poster, both available at paulkrassner.com. This is his second blog post for Arthur Magazine.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
However, in January 2004, when Obama was running for the Senate, he told Illinois college students that he supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use or possession.
“I think the war on drugs has been a failure, and I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws,” he said during a debate at Northwestern University. “But I’m not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana.”
Was Obama now having a time-travel debate with himself?
When the Washington Times confronted Obama with that statement on a video of the 2004 debate, his campaign offered two explanations in less than 24 hours.
First, a spokesperson said that Obama had “always” supported decriminalizing marijuana, that he misunderstood the question when he raised his hand, and reiterated Obama’s opposition to full legalization, adding that an Obama administration would “review drug sentences to see where we can be smarter on crime and reduce the blind and counterproductive sentencing to non-violent offenders.”
But, after the Times posted the video on its website, the Obama campaign made a fast U-turn and declared that he does not support eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana possession and use--thereby rejecting both decriminalization and legalization. What exactly is the difference? The definitions, according to Pot Culture: The A-Z Guide to Stoner Language & Life by Shirley Halperin and Steve Bloom, with a foreword by Tommy Chong:
“Decriminalization: When laws governing marijuana are changed to reduce the penalties for possession of small quantities (usually below an ounce) to non-criminal status. The first state to decriminalize was Oregon in 1973, followed by California, New York, Ohio, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, Mississippi, Alaska, North Carolina and Maine.”
“Legalization: The complete repeal of marijuana prohibition and removal of all criminal penalties for its use, sale, transport and cultivation. The Netherlands is the only country in the world with such a policy.”
Ron Fisher at NORML told me, “Decriminalization is the elimination of criminal penalties for the possession of marijuana, usually by replacing them with a fine (similar to a speeding ticket). Full legalization is a more complex issue that involves U.S. treaties, as well as the law. Legalization would be characterized by taxation and regulation of marijuana. This is NORML's ultimate goal, but we work for decrim in the meantime for the sake of the 830,000 Americans arrested on cannabis charges each year.”
And, according to medical marijuana activist Lanny Swerdlow, “Whether Senator Obama has changed his position or not, if he obtains the Democratic nomination for president, then marijuana decriminalization will certainly become an issue in the campaign--maybe a major issue. I’m sure the Republicans will use Obama’s videotaped statement supporting decriminalization and will try to paint him as soft on crime, sending the wrong message to children and all the baggage that goes with it. In this day and age, I think that could very well backfire as I really believe that most Americans are not aware, let alone support, ensnaring 830,000 citizens in the criminal justice system for marijuana-prohibition violations at a cost to taxpayers of between 10 and 20 billion dollars a year.”
Indeed, a CNN/Time-Warner poll shows that 76% of Americans agree with Obama’s original position, not to mention the 48 million who smoked pot in 2007.
The Progressive Review quotes an old classmate of Obama explaining the meaning of chooming: “That's what we called smoking marijuana. To ‘choom’ meant to get high, to smoke pot. I never heard the word used anywhere else, but Punahou kids had access to the very best pot available.” He and Obama were in the group of students who smoked marijuana, and members of the choom group did so both on and off campus. The irony is that, had Obama been arrested then, he might never have risen to his current status.
Review publisher Sam Smith tells a story that underscores the hypocrisy of political pandering that continues to allow unjust laws to turn tokers into criminals:
“Early in the Clinton administration your editor had dinner with, among others, a high White House official - a lawyer. The conversation turned to marijuana. The lawyer said that numerous staffers had asked how they should respond to FBI queries on the matter. The official’s reply was that they should remember that they would only be in the White House for a short while but the FBI files would be there forever. And what if friends or relatives actually saw them using pot? The White House lawyer’s response: ‘If you can't look an FBI agent straight in the eye and tell him they were wrong, you don't belong here.’”