Archive for March, 2010

“A Galactic Empire State of Mind”

30 Mar

The four kajillion of you guys who sent me this probably figured out that I was saving it for the end of the day; I mean, I love Star Wars and nerdy rap, but this is pretty special besides. Not only is it a pretty decent song by itself -- always a plus -- there's the following:

• Each original trilogy movie gets a verse
• Leia plays Max Rebo's piano thing
• Rebel pilots and Stormtroopers bust a few moves
• Leia's obvious but still funny DJ headphones
• Ewoks which somehow manage to be more disturbing that actual Ewoks
• Slave Leia
• "Daddy power activate."

If you want to check out the full lyrics, head here -- I highly recommend it. At the very least to take your mind off those Ewoks.

The Tea Party’s Rank Amateurism

26 Mar

We had an interesting conversation yesterday in comments about this video. GOP folks and Tea Partiers are increasingly peeved that their movement is being depicted in the media as filled with angry crazies on the verge of violence. As someone who's studied protest, and demonstrated a couple of times myself, I think part of the problem is quality control.

I date back to the Million Man March, when there was great concern that the hordes of black men descending on Washington might break out into a riot. Farrakhan was at the height of his power and the March was a product of the black nationalist wing of the community, not the "safe" civil rights wing. Indeed, several civil rights leaders, at the time, denounced the March.

I was a student at Howard at the time, and like all the other prospective Marchers, I read the papers and was well-versed in notion of not embarrassing your people in front of white folks. The last thing any of us wanted to do was to march down to the Mall and have the next day's headline read, "Niggers Can't Even March Without Fighting." In the months leading up to the March, organizers toured the country speaking to black men in the community and pushing the essential conservative aspects of the March. 

The theme was atonement--even as we recognized the wickedness of racism, we were going to the Mall to take ownership of our sins, to denounce black on black crime, to denounce absentee fatherhood, and recommit ourselves to the traditional cult of maledom. The concept of violence, or even boisterous anger, was counter to the March's goals, and so while there was much surprise at how solemn the event came off, if you'd been watching from the start, it would have made sense. I think had someone done something to embarrass us, there really would have been hell to pay. We thought that media was looking for trouble, but we also thought it was within our power not to give it to them.

I think we got some of that sense from the Civil Rights movement's choreography. These guys were the masters of protest as propaganda. The Montgomery bus boycott was a strategy and Rosa Parks was not some witless old lady, but a civil rights worker who'd been trained to accord herself a certain way. When Martin Luther King would be arrested he dressed a certain way, he seemed to try to convey to the cameras a kind of solemn restraint. The marches themselves were choreographed, and the strategy of nonviolence was drilled into anyone who'd protest.

I hear GOP folks and Tea Partiers bemoaning the fact that media and Democrats are using the extremes of their movement for ratings and to score points. This is like Drew Brees complaining that Dwight Freeney keeps trying to sack him. If that were Martin Luther King's response to media coverage, the South might still be segregated. I exaggerate, but my point is that the whining reflects a basic misunderstanding of the rules of protest. When you lead a protest you lead it, you own it, and your opponents, and the media, will hold you responsible for whatever happens in the course of that protest. This isn't left-wing bias, it's the nature of the threat.

There is of course a deeper question about the limits of strategy. It's possible that if the Tea Partiers cleaned up their ranks--purged the birthers, publicly rebuked people like this guy, banned Hitler signs, loudly rejected any instances of racism--that they simply wouldn't have much of a movement left. Martin Luther King was trying to lead a black community that was demonstrably patriotic, and had, in the main, rejected political violence as a strategy. He could afford to be picky. In the case of the Tea Parties, it's possible that once you subtract the jackasses, you just don't have enough energy left.

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Shoes that make everyone the same height

22 Mar

Woa, awesome project, from way back in 1997. Making shoes to make everyone level. What are the social behaviors now…

“Berlin-based artist Hans Hemmert (famous for his work with balloons) threw a party where guests wore shoe-extenders to make them all the same height of 2 meters. Aside from bringing the partygoers all to a common eye level (and eliminating the awkward postures of party talk between the tall and the short), the gathering is lent an infographic nature by the shoes: all made from blue foam, the person’s real height is read in the visual uniformity of the sole instead of at the head—like a walking bar graph.

This (completely underpublished) project, entitled “Level,” is from 1997, produced for the Personal Absurdities show at the Galerie Gebauer Berlin. Finding it now, in 2010, I can’t help but read it as a design event, getting directly at the basic qualities that shape our interactions with others—what does it mean when we all share one height?

Hans Hemmert is part of the art collective Inges Idee. Check out their site for more amazing projects in public space.”

via core77


Best. Daily Show. Ever? Jon Stewart parodies Glenn Beck

19 Mar

stewart beckparody Best. Daily Show. Ever? Jon Stewart parodies Glenn Beck

Best. Daily Show. Ever? Jon Stewart opened his show Thursday night with a 15-minute parody of Fox News host Glenn Beck, lamenting what it means to be a progressive and capturing the exaggerated mannerisms of Beck to a 'T,' even donning the reading glasses that dangle down to the middle of his face.

"I'm glad you tuned in to today's show," Stewart opened. "It's an important one. One that you and your family can't afford to miss. Oh, you could miss it, but if you miss it... you'll die."

The video screen behind Stewart starts with a clip of Beck in a heated diatribe on progressivism. "Progressivism is the cancer in America and it is destroying our Constitution," Beck groans, adding, "Progressives want to control every aspect of your life."

"I didn't know that's what I wanted, but I guess I want to control every aspect of your life," Stewart rejoins. His sentences are broken with periods of exaggerated 'Beck' mannerisms. "As a progressive I might say I think it's a good idea for an agency to monitor pollution," he continues. "But I guess what I really mean is it's in the state's interest that we be allowed to put a chip in your head that tells you when you can masturbate."

Story continues below...

"Total control," Stewart says, echoing Beck. "In my America, nobody tells people when they can masturbate!"

The studio audience roars throughout the 15-minute skit, which appears below.

The following video is courtesy of Comedy Central and originally aired on Thursday, March 18, 2010:


Newborn Babies Now Crawling in Infographical Data

18 Mar

"This is a baby generating data in a neonatal ward", according to the latest commercial by IBM. It did remind me that I will need to interpret the visualization of my newborn daughter as soon as I come home today. Now, if we only could synchronize our time-varying trends at night and have less outliers, all would be well...

"The team built custom code that translates spreadsheets of raw numerical data -- derived, in the case of 'Data Baby', from a newborn's respiratory, heart rate, blood pressure, EKG, oxygen saturation, and temperature readings -- into motion paths that move and evolve design elements organically across image sequences. In the spot, patterns gently float up in-frame, seemingly from the surface of a newborn baby resting in a neonatal ward. Ethereal CG life patterns, fractal-like shapes and other visual expressions flow upwards to form a stylized mobile that is captured as a reflection in the baby's eye. These beautiful design elements warmly envelop the baby, delivering an authentic visual representation of the myriad pieces of data made available to doctors with the help of IBM technology." More detailed information at Motion Theory and Pitch Engine.

This, and a few more commercials in the same line of reasoning, are available below. Be sure not to miss the funny behind-the-screens documentary (.mov) of the Data Baby commercial.

Via Motionographer and Fast Company.

Thnkx Peter!


YouTube: Viacom secretly posted its videos even as they sued us for not taking down Viacom videos

18 Mar
In a scorching post on the company's blog, YouTube Chief Counsel Zahavah Levine accuses Viacom of going to great lengths to secretly upload videos to YouTube in order to take advantage of its promotional value even as they were suing YouTube, arguing that YouTube should be able to tell the difference between Viacom videos that were uploaded by actual infringers as opposed to Viacom employees and agents being paid to pretend to be infringers.
For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately "roughed up" the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko's to upload clips from computers that couldn't be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt "very strongly" that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

Viacom's efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

Given Viacom's own actions, there is no way YouTube could ever have known which Viacom content was and was not authorized to be on the site. But Viacom thinks YouTube should somehow have figured it out. The legal rule that Viacom seeks would require YouTube -- and every Web platform -- to investigate and police all content users upload, and would subject those web sites to crushing liability if they get it wrong.

Broadcast Yourself (via /.)

(Image: Kara Swisher and Philippe Dauman, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from Joi's photostream)


Future of Publishing video will amuse and delight

17 Mar

Here's an adorable, tricky and clever video on the future of publishing, courtesy of the Penguin folks, who produced it for an internal presentation and then released it into the wild after everyone loved it. Be sure to watch to at least halfway, when the clever gets visible.

The Future of Publishing - created by DK (UK) (Thanks, Miguel!)


The Most Self-Explanatory Painting In Human History [Concept Art]

14 Mar

It's Batman. With a lightsaber. Fighting a shark. Don't ask why this is happening. It just is. This tableau is pure id. I want this image to flash before my eyelids before I fall asleep each night. [via Nerdcore]


The Vivienda 19 House by A-cero

10 Mar

Spanish architects A-cero have sent us their latest completed project, a house in the “La Finca” development in Pozuelo de Alarcon (Madrid).


Description from A-cero:

The structure of this new house is made of clear volumes, straight lines and simples shapes. The house’s front is made of marble travertino and there are many windows in it. Both elements give a lot of lightness to the house.

It has a 1.600 m2 surface and three floors (basement, ground and high floor). The structure adapts itself to the slope ( 4000 m2) where the house is. The garage and service spaces are in the basement, while the most public spaces (lounge, dining room, living room …) are in the first floor. Bedrooms and more private rooms are in the high floor. A-cero has designed also a 80 m2 spectacular and geometric swimming pool. It harmonizes with the clean architecture of this A-cero project.

Visit the A-cero website – here.



In This Horror Movie, the Call Comes From Inside the Theater [Interactivity]

10 Mar
What's more terrifying than a call coming from inside the house? The call coming from inside the theater. That's the thought behind Last Call, an interactive horror film in which the main character calls a random audience member for help. More »