Monthly Archives: August 2009

People never focus on how FUN he was

…it’s all show trial this, mass famine that. No one ever remembers how he took time out from a busy schedule of killing the innocent to strike this funny pose. From Foreign Policy.


John Ashbery’s spaces

From RainTaxi.

Petrified wood’s still a nice thought

The moon rock that a U.S. ambassador gave to the Netherlands, and which NASA vouched for, has turned out to be an ancient piece of wood from planet Earth.

moon rock

Via the BBC. There are 100s of these rocks around the world, apparently. Rather like pieces of Christ in 1100, I bet if you collected all the purported moon rocks together in one place, you’d have a chunk larger than 100 moon units could transport. Another holy rock of this secular age, of course, are berlin wall chunks, also given as gifts, sold above minibars in Berlin hotels, and also frequently fake.

I need this more than food.

Who needs fluorescence to catch the drivers’ eyes while you’re biking, when tailoring is right there.

let the sweat out

Dashing Tweeds know a thing or two about dressing properly for every occasion. Their Web site also offers suits for poaching.

“Ignored beauty” and Robin Williams

I am just going to have to put up with Jonah Lehrer being a very good, thoughtful and entertaining writer, even though there’s something about him I find unsettlingly irritating. Thankfully, I think he made a bad slip in his diagnosis of this video of “moments.” As ever, he plugs it into his neuroscientific framework, while adding a Stephen Jay Gouldian ripe bit of prose at the end.

“first glance, it’s a mere collection of ordinary moments – a falling teardrop, an escaped balloon, a dive into a pool – but I think it’s also evidence that the things we see everyday, when carefully framed, can ache with ignored beauty:”

At first glance it’s cliched images we can’t avoid in every day life (here, for instance, or here) mixed with sentimentality! It’s like the videos that Robin Williams makes in Final Cut out of the memories people have stored on memory chips: babies, sex, being wrinkled, hitting home runs, stages of life, and, yes, even footprints being washed into oblivion by the sea. “And what about all the bits in between,” asks a character.

(Disclaimer: Final Cut is awful, awful, awful.) Here are some slightly more serious attempts to capture on film the moments in between the moments we usually recognise as moments.

Iconic vistas, made personal. Everyone has their favorite clips from here: mine is the Staten Island ferry arriving monotonously and the guy seen carrying a book shelf past “Parke Benett.”

Perhaps this falls into the same traps as the Moments video. But it makes a few leaps of imagination the Moments video doesn’t. Do stick around for the payoff in this sequence, which is shocking:

Admire the neutrality of the elevator ride and pardon the weird soundtrack:

The only thing that could make these people cooler is knowing what they’re thinking and how they’d look dancing if there wasn’t jazz music to back them up:

I never know what I’m meant to be looking at in the first shot: the policeman and the houses of parliament seem like supporting characters. The space between is where the action lies.

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery…

is coming close to reality in a small Italian town. Lesson: don’t hint you have more than 100 million euros in an area stuffed with people who’s job it is to extort money out of individuals.

All roads lead to Corfu

The U.K. was taking a different tack to digital piracy from what might be called the Sarkozy-U2 Approach of getting the people who supply the bandwidth to force their customers to use it in an appropriate way. John Naughton makes the underhand suggestion that a dinner party during Lord Mandelson’s vacation was enough to bring the U.K. into line:

Lord Carter, for his part, took a judicious view of the matter. Responsibility for curbing piracy would be handed to Ofcom, the communications regulator, which would be given powers that would oblige ISPs to inform persistent pirates of the illegality of their actions, and allow alleged infringers to be identified and pursued if they ignored warnings. ISPs would also be encouraged to use bandwidth reduction and protocol blocking to stymie persistent offenders.

But the idea of blocking access was rejected, and it was decided that the earliest date that new rules could take effect under this approach would be 2012. Given the thicket of legal, political and potential human rights issues that surround the problem, this seemed like a realistic approach. And then, in one of those strange coincidences that make one want to study statistics, Lord Mandelson went on holiday to Corfu.

On August 7 he dined at the Rothschild family villa on the island in company with one David Geffen, a noted record industry mogul. Nothing odd in that, you may think; Lord Mandelson does that kind of thing all the time. But soon after he got back to his Whitehall office, his officials had second thoughts about Lord Carter’s measured approach to online piracy. “The objective of the legislation and the nature of the obligations we proposed remain unchanged,” they explained. “However, our thinking on the process supporting the objectives and the obligations has developed”.

You bet it has. Their consultation document says the Carter plan would take too long to implement “given the pressure put on the creative industries by piracy”. Instead, ISPs would be obliged to block access to download sites, throttle broadband connections or even temporarily cut off access for repeat offenders. It is clearly envisaged that the new measures will be bundled into the Bill, which will implement the main proposals of the Digital Britain report.

via The Times. I’m not sure Geffen would have made all that difference, and I’m not clear what the difference is between an ISP that cuts back bandwidth when it comes to offenders and THROTTLES bandwidth. More importantly, Rothschild Island is becoming a kind of Summer reality show, in which British politicians and celebrities frolick to such an extent that it taints anything the British government does . Last year it was Oleg Deripaska and aluminium tarriffs on Rothschild Island. This year, it’s David Geffen and internet piracy. And next year, will Mandelson be able to fit in an episode of Rothschild Island before the election? Perhaps some kind of vote-rigging scandal can be cooked up off the China-blue seas of Corfu.