Monday, October 31, 2005

Ted Rall's Bush comparisons

Ted Rall is a great editorial cartoonist. There are alot of hack editorial cartoonists out there who tread the same paths as everyone. If you go to the editorial cartoon sites, like Cagle or Cartoonbox, you see alot of Yachtzees. A Yahtzee in this context is a number of cartoon with the identical theme and topic. Recent Yahtzees have Wilma Flintstone wielding a club and Rosa Parks on a bus to heaven. But Ted Rall is not in these compliation sites. His stuff a little too raw for the mainstream as noted with these two cartoons comparing Bush with Hitler and Osama.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Anti-Car ad

Many cars ads want to present the ideal of the open road. A great place to drive for you alone in wonderful vehicle. Here is an ad for a train company that's plays with the stereotypes. The car that the cat is driviing is very cool and fast. In the ad the the sheer number of cars makes all cool cheetahs in their fast roadsters sweaty and slow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Duke of Ellington on BBC3

Been listening to a BBC3 program called Composer of the Week. This program, over 5 days/hours traces a composer's life through work and time. Music, from the composer in question, is played in rough chronilogical order. In between are concise liner notes that add to the appreciation of the music in question. Last week it was a pair of renaissance low country choir directors.

This week it is Duke Ellington. I have always liked Ellington and his program has exposed me to more of his pieces than I knew existed before. Today episode dealt with the more complicated peices he wrote after the death of his mother. It ended with Caravan. The "Duke of" comes from an antedote from Haval that unlike Count Bassie and Earl Hines it was assumed that Ellington's first name was also his title.

Here is a little ad about the headbanging appeal of all good music. Enjoy.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Design History

In a thread about the history of sofabeds on SHWI, a link is provided to a design history site. The group called Designboom seems to be some sort of design education group. There are a number of in depth exhibitions of different household items. Here is an exhibit about desk lamps. This exhibit is broken up thematically between all the various types of desk lamps like gooseneck, counterweight, and constant tension. With all of the details of the design history of all these things.

Babbit as a Compliment?

I was reading the obituaries in the Globe recently, when a weird simile jumped out at me. A suburban car dealer, James Kennedy, is described as being "l(L)ike a character from a Sinclair Lewis novel". I don't know how that could be considered a great compliment. Sinclair Lewis described small town life with a jaundiced eye. His first big success, Main Street, was banned by a small town. A latter novel, Babbit is a jaundiced portrayal of a businessman. Lewis was well hated in his time because he understood the small town world and all of hypocracies and contradictions from the inside. He was not some cosmopolitan tourist but a local.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bring on the Pressgang

A NY Times article about the sometime success in recruiting had a curious graphic. This map depicts the density of recruits as a function of target age group, 18-25. The map shows the rectuiting not in absolute terms but as ratio of the available 17-25 year olds. There are alot places that don't show as a good source of cannon fodder. The Yankee heartland of New England, New York and New Jersey, except for Maine, are a barren field compared to when these places bled its men on civil war battlefields. Most of the concentations of Americans don't lead to any flag following. Indeed if you look at this map carefully you realize that the americans can most easily recruit where there isn't many people.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Microsoft as the new Dinosaur

A came across a blog called Mini Microsoft while logging into blogger. I find it interesting that a blog detailing the inner bureaucratic life of Large and Flabby is hosted by one of the arms of Google. Inside I found a wide discussion about Microsoft employee rating system and other HR issues. The discussions in the deep innards of microsoft reveals a company too big, so it fails. Also here is another dinosaur/microsoft joke based on the horrible ads.

Current Reading: Goodbye, Darkness

Goodbye, Darkness : a memoir of the Pacific by William Manchester

This is a weird book. I have read many books by Manchester. Histories where he is master of the composed sentence, paragraph and chapter. In all the other books I read of his he has been able to write from the god's eye view of History. This is more mental breakdown than full footnoted history. This has the stuttering prose of a mental patient who hopes by telling the memory can be lost.

The book composed of three intermingled parts. It is a general history of the Pacific war. It is a travelogue of a middle aged veteran touring the battlefields, the ones he fought on and the rest of the allied battlefields of WWII in the pacific theater. And a harrowing account of a young man's killing time. The problem is a whole it doesn't quite work.

The general history covers much of the same ground that other works including ones by the author have done better. The emphasis is on a general overview only. The travelogue by middle aged author is a morose and sad remarching through the battlefields he never saw and the ones where he never saw much of, except the man in front of him, the ground, the slit trench, some trees. It is the last part of the memoir is a memoir. It sketches a story of the author up until he joins the US marines from the narrative gets more muddled, scary, and angry. There is a lot of anger. The anger of the young is why can't things be better, the sadness of the old is the realization that things can't be.

The memoir of the young marine written by the middle aged man hits many of the points with the same we have seen in other works of history, memoir and fiction. Manchester is sent to Parris Island and is exposed, along with his fellow ivy leaguers, to the ignorance and violence of the traditional south. He is sent to OCS and flunks out. He trains with his intelligence squad. He has some experiences in California before shipping out and killing. Then the long slog as one by one his squad is killed. He gets a million dollar wound, not disabling but enough for a ticket home. He escape hospital and flees into combat for a worse wound. If Operation Downfall had occured he would out of hospital in time to die in Japan.

The violent language of the young marine is in sharp contrast to the Olympian view point of the historian or morose musing of the middle aged veteran. The language comes alive with descriptive terms both appropriate and filthy. REMF, rear enclelon mother fuckers. Fuck your Buddy, the self rating system of officer candidates. One of his squad, the Ragged Ass Marines, is turned away from a new cemetery because of a lack fresh clean clothes. The pointless death of a souvenir hunter. The necessary death of an incompetent officer.

All in all a good read filled with anger.

Here are two obituaries of William Manchester by a military site, and by his college where he taught, that reflects on some of the horror of memory.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Creative Destruction or merely Destruction

I was trolling through the archives of a NPR program called Talk of the Nation, which mainly covercurrent events and politics and the like. However every Friday the program focuses on science. On septenber 9, 2005 an expert on deltas in general and the Missisippi delta in partucular was on. Mark Tidwell went on about how deltas are eroded by the oceanic sytems, hurricanes and subsidence and are bult up by silt laden rivers. When one or both of these processes are interupted problems ensue. The Lousianna coast is being damaged by levees, erected as flood control and pumping of grounwater. The Nile delta is being damaged by the way that that Aswan dam has stopped the Nile from transporting silt to the delta. Mark Tidwell pointed out that all coastal cities are going to have problems with sealevel rises.

Mark Tidwell wrote a book about bayous and other land forms particular to coastal Lousianna, called, Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Narrated Sounds of Nature

I was trolling around the BBC4 archives when I came accross a series called Soundscapes. This a series of programs where various animals are recorded. These recordings are then edited down and narrated by a naturalist.

Since I have been listening to alot of ambient stations lately, I found these recording great. Here is the Sea Eagle, the Swallow, a Grey Seal Odyssey, a Serengeti March, and the Pond. Enjoy.