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« February 2005 | Main | April 2005 »

Mitch Hedberg 1968-2005

This week's news coverage has been so dominated by imminent and actual high-profile death that a big one has almost slipped through the cracks- Comedian Mitch Hedberg died Wednesday at age 37. Called "The Next Seinfeld" by Time Magazine, he breathed a lot of new life into observational comedy with his George-Carlin-on-more-drugs style.

Posted by Tim Harrod on 03/31/2005 | Permalink | Comments (4)

New York Times on Grokster

Daniel Radosh calls the New York Times out on its bullshit. Here's how the Times explains its support of the copyright cartel:

"When the Supreme Court takes up the issue this week, we hope it considers another party to the dispute: individual creators of music, movies and books, who need to keep getting paid if they are going to keep creating. If their work is suddenly made "free," all of society is likely to suffer....Both the court and Congress should be sensitive to evolving technologies. But they should not let technology evolve in a way that deprives people who create of the ability to be paid for their work."

Yet as the New York Observer points out, the Times is itself depriving creators the ability to be paid for their work. The Time has fought tooth and nail to claim copyrights over its freelance writers' work; Times contributions are therefore unlikely to see much of any income. In 1995, the Times circulated

a memo to editors saying that freelancers who wrote for The Times would be required to sign away all future rights, including electronic rights, to their work. Those who refused would be barred from writing for The Times.

'The paper's position on this is unambiguous,' the memo said. '[I]f someone does not sign an agreement, he or she will no longer be published in the newspaper."


Posted by carrie on 03/31/2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Technopranks, audio cut-ups, and kids without coats

As a prank, engineers sometimes inbed images into computer microchips--images that can only be seen with a microscope.

Got back on Sunday from Iowa, where Charles (Stay Free Vice President) and I attended "Collage As Cultural Practice," a conference organized by Kembrew McLeod. It was a little bit like summer camp; I got to hang out with folks I haven't seen in ages (Mark Hosler, Steev Hise, Kembrew, etc.) and meet up with some new people as well. Highlights? Jesse Drew talked about technopranks and showed many colorful examples, including computer microchips whose designers secretly hid cartoonish figures on them (right). The one featuring the Linux penguin, for example, appeared on an IBM chip! Another one cleverly implanted a bug. The images are literally microscopic, so this kind of prank is generally only recognized by other microchip engineers.

John Anderson played some examples from his site, Truthful Translations, which collects audio and video cut-ups of George W. Bush and his cronies -- some, technically seemless, others just plain goofy. I especially like the tracks by rx, who has somehow managed to make Bush sing "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Who's the Nigga?" and an "Imagine" /"Walk on the Wild Side" mashup.

Filmmaker/madman Craig Baldwin screened many awesome clips, but the awesomeist of the awesome was Scott Coleman Miller's "Uso Justo." (We're working on getting it into the Illegal Art Exhibit so hopefully I'll have more to say about it in the future.)

Mark Hosler from Negativland showed a great video clip (a cut-up of "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music) from the group's upcoming album, No Business. . . . and what else? Well, the usual bunch of academic papers.

Iowa City is a quaint little college town; it reminded me of my days in Chapel Hill, NC, with one difference: the students there routinely walk around in 40-degree weather wearing only t-shirts or spaghetti straps. Not that they are particularly tough--these kids were clearly freezing (shivering). Kembrew refers to the phenomenon as "kids without coats" and says such under-dressing has become common in mid-west college towns in the past five or so years; apparently, it's some kind of fashion statement. I believe he traced the inspiration to Britney Spears but, really, who knows.

Steev Hise has posted some photos of the conference, for anyone interested.

Posted by carrie on 03/31/2005 | Permalink | Comments (2)

All Over But the Stealing

The New York Post is reporting that the Jets' lowball proposal is going to win the bidding process over the Hudson Yards site.

Jets fans in New York City can now drown their sorrows immediately after games, instead of waiting for the bus to bring them back to the Port Authority. Fans of fiscal sanity can start drowning their sorrows right now.

Posted by Charles Star on 03/31/2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anti-Advertising Agency opens offices

If you're in San Francisco in the next 5 weeks, the Anti-Advertising Agency will be opening offices in the Walter McBean Gallery at the San Francisco Art Institute this Saturday.  There will be a office party/art opening on Friday from 5:30-7:30.
The Agency works to raise critical questions about outdoor advertising and the way public space is used.  We recieved funding from the Creative Work Fund and subsequently re-granted the money to five artists projects - including one from Packard Jennings who is included in the Illegal Art Exhibit.  The office has a work station for each project, including a conference room where we will hold half-theater/half-research oriented Focus Groups, weekly public discussions with artists and real (!) advertising agency executives, and individual meetings.  Of course, more info is available on the website.

So, to recap:
Grand Opening of The Offices of the Anti-Advertising Agency
Friday (this Friday) April 1, 2005 5:30-7:30
McBean Project Space at the San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut St. San Francisco, Ca

Hope to see you there... Steve

Posted by Steve Lambert on 03/30/2005 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Protect Your Wallets

You only need to read one article in the New York Post about the competing bids for the West Side Rail Yards to figure out that the paper prefers the Jets' proposal to Madison Square Garden/Cablevision's. In Tuesday's paper, the Post said that the "Garden's stadium bid is $320M short." Does anyone want to explain how this is possible?

The Post makes a lot of the fact that MSG would deduct the platform-construction cost from its offer to the MTA, but seems not to mind that the Jets' proposal is contingent on money the team will receive from the city and state (money that has not been offered to any of the other bidders). The MTA receives its funding from the state, so deducting the platform construction costs from the purchase price the MTA will receive is no different than the state doling out tax subsidies. It gets worse when you see the amounts at issue.

MSG is taking a $360 million credit for building the platform. The Jets are receiving $600 million in public financing for the platform and the retractable roof on the stadium.

Check my math:
MSG: $760MM - $360MM = $400MM
Jets: $720MM - $600MM = $120MM

How is the Jets proposal better at all, much less $320,000,000 better?

Posted by Charles Star on 03/30/2005 | Permalink | Comments (7)

Study: Pupils 'do worse with computers'

From the Guardian: "An international study of about 100,000 15-year-olds in 32 different developed and developing countries suggests that the drive to equip" schoolchildren with computers may be misplaced. See also: Lose the Laptops. (Thanks to Erika Shaker)

Posted by carrie on 03/29/2005 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bad Motivator

I'm always amazed by what gets people angry enough to justify the effort of making webpages, online petitions, and the like. There's plenty of valid things to be angry about in this crazy-go-nuts world of ours, but the lack of a "pacifistic" R5-D4 action figure doesn't even make my list, and I LOVE toy robots.

Posted by Jason Torchinsky on 03/29/2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The $500 Coursepack

Students at Harvard other universities are battling coursepacks that cost almost $500, due to copyright insanity. Pissed off, they're photocopying articles from the coursepack on their own, which this editorial from the Harvard Crimson calls illegal. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure it's actually fine to photocopy articles for personal use, particularly for educational purposes. What's NOT okay is for a commercial outlet such as Kinko's to sell coursepacks without getting copyright clearances.

(Via Sivacracy)

Posted by carrie on 03/28/2005 | Permalink | Comments (14)

The Barbie history of America

BarbiehistoryFrom the Washington Post: "In 'Peace, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll' -- one of the first books in a series aimed to offer, as one of its creators puts it, 'history through the Barbie filter'-- Barbie and her African American friend Christie are both illustrated with pink skin and long, straight hair." The other new book in the series has Barbie teaching about the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Oh, the irony!

This thing is ripe for parody; I'm picturing Barbie going underground with the Weatherman, attacking the FBI for spying on and trapping Martin Luther King, witnessing King's assasination, and helping the Black Panthers organize free meals for the poverty-stricken.

Posted by carrie on 03/28/2005 | Permalink | Comments (3)