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RANDOM LINKS FOR 2/22/13
Feb 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Seattle artist Ellen Ziegler’s mom was a ballet dancer—and a onetime girlfriend of the great Mexican comic actor Cantinflas. Ziegler’s turning this story into a very-limited-edition art book.
  • In other news about local women and art and books and images of hotness, Charlotte Austin and Ciolo Thompson have created The Better Bombshell. In it, a variety of writers and artists of both genders contemplate that age-old issue of female role models and what they should be now.
  • Online “cyber-bullying” isn’t just for teens anymore. The disgraced now-former Snohomish County executive did it too.
  • The Oatmeal explains why “How to Suck at Your Religion.” (Essentially: if you preach brotherhood but practice bigotry, etc….)
  • The drive to preserve the Bauhaus coffeehouse’s building, by getting it named an official historic landmark: rejected.
  • The lawsuit challenging the Sonics arena scheme: rejected.
  • Even Republicans believe Tim Eyman’s “lying whore” comment against Gov. Inslee went too far.
  • PONCHO, granddaddy of Seattle arts fundraising groups (and inventor of the “charity auction”), is no more.
  • Can private tech colleges, charging $30,000 or more for degree programs, really solve Wash. state’s learning gap?
  • Eastern Washington, now with more radioactive sludge.
  • Life imitates Portlandia, at least 30 times.
  • Chuck Thompson at the New Republic derides microbrews, and the brewpubs who sell them, as icons of silly urban gentrificaiton. But they’re really, really tasty icons of silly urban gentrification.)
  • The sad tale of the “food critic on Food Stamps” finally has a happy ending. Ex-Tacoma News Tribune restaurant reviewer Ed Murrieta finally found a job, after spending years among the long-term unemployed. He now writes blurbs for Sacramento’s tourism board.
  • In Virginia, a white mom wants white kids not to have to read books about past racial violence.
  • I know I’m not the only one who still remembers LaserDiscs, those 12-inch analog video discs that were the best way to see movies at home in their day.
  • Here’s an artistic vision of a future car-free Manhattan, funded by (who else?) a car company.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/26/12
Oct 25th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

amidst-the-everyday.com

“Amidst the Everyday,” a project by photographers-artists Aaron Asis and Dan Hawkins, aims to reveal “elements of the unseen urban environment.” You go to places around town, scan QR codes (etched in wood!) at various buildings, and receive images of their hidden treasures. (Above, one of the unoccupied-for-decades upper floors of the Eitel Building at Second and Pike.)

  • I’m not disillusioned by the news of a potential sitcom that would carry the title Smells Like Teen Spirit. (The show concept sounds more like a ripoff of Family Ties, which is also something we don’t need.) However, I am at least a little disillusioned by the news of a potential Kurt and Courtney stage musical, which would be licensed by Courtney Love via Britney Spears’ estranged ex-manager.
  • Lester Smith, 1919-2012: The Mariners’ original principal owner had, in partnership with Hollywood star Danny Kaye, a number of business endeavors. They ranged from rock-concert promotion to direct-mail marketing. But Smith (or Kaye-Smith) will always be legendary for stewarding KJR-AM during its 1955-80 golden age as Seattle’s Top 40 (or “Fab 50″) powerhouse.
  • The Seattle Times‘ free ads for Rob McKenna caught the LA Times‘ attention; not to mention a less-than-kind portrayal in the SeaTimes‘ own “Truth Needle” department.
  • The next step up from bicycle lanes: physically separated “bike tracks.”
  • Knute Berger reiterates what I’ve been saying about the waterfront development scheme. Let’s not let it be “sanitized by good intentions.”
  • Dominic Holden would like you to know the biggest reason for legalizing pot. It isn’t for the stoners (and it sure ain’t to shut up the stoner evangelists, which had been my reason).
  • Joe Copeland takes up the continuing legacy of Floyd Schmoe, one of the greatest people I ever met, leader of Seattle’s Quakers and hands-on advocate for peace and reconciliation.
  • The next hurdle toward getting the NBA back in Seattle has been overcome. That hurdle is Commissioner David Stern, whose butt will be out of that particular chair by the end of next season.
  • A major casual-games convention may be leaving Seattle.
  • UK film blogger Petra Davis looks back admiringly at the still-underrated Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, 20 years old this year…
  • …and, with the winding down of the World’s Fair semi-centennial, our pal Jim Demetre has some kind words for the (mostly justifiably) forgotten It Happened at the World’s Fair.
  • In other film news, the Columbia City Cinema is being reopened (yay!). The new owner has repaired all the previous owner’s not-up-to-code “renovations.”
  • Note to Amazon Kindle users: Buy all your e-books while you’re physically in the same country, lest you be targeted as a Terms of Service violator.
  • Today’s dire-threat-to-America’s-youth story comes to you from a California high school where boys and girls alike are invited to join a “fantasy slut league.”
  • Penguin and Random House are in merger talks. This is bad news, since book publishing is one of those industries that’s too consolidated already.
  • Today’s lesson in the folly of products marketed as “For Women” is brought to you by Fujitsu and its “Floral Kiss” brand laptop PC.
  • Among all the slimy, sociopathic, and bigoted things Republicans are saying and doing these days, add this overt racism by Sarah Palin.
  • Pseudonymous Daily Kos diarist “bayushisan” wishes gamer culture had fewer macho jerks in it. (The same, of course, can be said about athiests and “skeptics,” online comment threads, U.S. politics, and even atheists and “skeptics”.)
  • Paul Karr loathes the dot-commers’ worship of “disruption” as a sacred concept, and the Ayn Randian me-first-ism behind it.
  • The BBC notes that “creativity is often intertwined with mental illness“…
  • …and Simon Reynolds disses the “modern dismissal of genius” in today’s “age of the remix.”
  • Earthquakes can’t be predicted. That hasn’t stopped a court in Italy from convicting seven scientists who failed to do so.
  • Community organizer “B Loewe” believes you should not get into lefty causes to feel good about yourself, and you shouldn’t try to be your own, or your only, emotional “caregiver.” Instead, you’re to practice prosocial interdependence as both ideology and a way of life.
  • Someone says something nice about so-called “hipsters!” They’re credited with helping bring back Detroit (the place, not the car companies).
RANDOM LINKS FOR 6/29/12
Jun 29th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

'jseattle' at flickr, via capitohillseattle.com

Yes, it’s been nearly a week since I’ve posted any of these tender tidbits of randomosity. Since then, here’s some of what’s cropped up online and also in the allegedly “real” world:

  • There’s still no official hint on what the proposed Sonics Arena might look like. But the wannabe developers of East Pine Street’s “Bauhaus block” have released a drawing of their proposed mixed use development. At least in its idealized-drawing form, it’s not as monstrous looking as some other recent structures in the area.
  • In other preservation battles, Seattle’s people again rally around a thing about which the elites don’t give a darn. They’re striving to bring back the Waterfront Streetcar.
  • Meanwhile, a study claims if the viaduct-replacement tunnel charges tolls high enough to pay for it, drivers will clog the surface streets rather than pay those tolls.
  • Seattle Opera faces a $1 million shortfall, and will mount fewer new shows in future years. But don’t count ‘em out yet, folks. It’s not over until, well, you know.
  • The late writer-director Nora Ephron had many major achievements. Sleepless in Seattle, let us all admit, is among the least of them.
  • Did you know there was a real hostelry in Fife called the “Norman Bates Motel“? Emphasis on the was.
  • America’s cities: they’re back! (Of course, some of us knew this for some time.)
  • In a pleasant surprise, one of the Supreme Court’s pro-one-percenter flank betrayed his masters and voted to uphold Obamacare. In response, some members of the Rabid Right’s noise machine claimed the great American Experiment was over and they’d hightail it to Canada (which, uh, has had universal health care in place for some time now).
  • If you’re on liberal/progressive websites at all these days, you’ll find a lot of comment threads hijacked by folk who claim to be lefties disgusted by Obama’s centrist tactics, so much that they won’t vote this November, and want you to not vote either. At least some of these comment trolls turn out to be paid employees of right-wing dirty tricks outfits.
  • Rupert Murdoch’s splitting his News Corp. into two companies. One will contain his print properties (including HarperCollins Books, The Wall St. Journal, the New York Post, and his besieged London tabloid operation), plus the iPad “newspaper” The Daily. The other will hold his “entertainment” properties. Yes, Fox “News” goes with the entertainment half.
  • Paul Krugman tells the PBS NewsHour all about his “cartoon physics” theory of the American economy.
  • Google’s putting out a tablet device with a 7-inch color screen, just like Amazon’s Kindle Fire. But the exciting part of this Wall St. Journal link is at the bottom, where they mention another forthcoming Google hardware product. It’s a streaming-media player that attaches to TV sets, and it’ll be made in the USA!
  • Ann Althouse looks at a famous parody of trashy sex novels, and asks rhetorically if those who make and read such parodies are really bashing the potboilers’ readers (i.e., women).
  • Nordstrom’s opening a branch in New York City. Make way for NYC media outlets to describe it as a brand new startup.
  • Headline: “The media covers Kardashians, not climate change.” Comment: The media covers the-media-not-covering-climate-change more than it covers climate change.
ALBERT D. ROSELLINI, 1910-2011
Oct 10th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

from 'fantomaster' at flickr.com

The first Washington governor of my lifetime could also be considered the state’s first “modern era” leader.

At a time of postwar complacency, just after the fading of “red scare” smear campaigns (yes, there were McCarthy-esque witch hunters here too), Rosellini enacted a bold progressive agenda.

He backed the Seattle World’s Fair.

He helped organize the cleanup of Lake Washington, once a mightily polluted body. He boosted college funding.

He established a separate juvenile justice system, and improved horrendous conditions at adult prisons and mental hospitals.

He boosted economic development and infrastructure investment, including the SR 520 bridge that now bears his name.

And yeah, he also stayed lifelong allies with the likes of strip-club maven Frank Colacurcio Sr., which eventually led to the ex-governor’s last, less-than-positive headlines in the 1990s.

You can disapprove of the Colacurcio connection and still admire Rosellini’s steadfastness to longtime friendships.

And you can look at the whole of Rosellini’s works and see a man who did all he could for what he believed in, even if it cost him most of his political capital before his first gubernatorial term was up.

Would there were more like him today.

Music scene tie in: Gov. Rosellini’s press secretary was Calvin Johnson Sr., father of the K Records swami.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/12/11
Jul 12th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

vintage 1940 trolley bus from seattletransitblog.com

  • Today is the day. Speak now or forever lose your ability to get anywhere in King County, with or without a car. That’s how big this is. Get thee to the King County Council Chambers, 516 Third Ave., 6-8 p.m. Speak out to save transit.
  • Is local weather really getting “wetter and warmer”? Cliff Mass says not necessarily.
  • After the state failed earlier this year, the city may strike out on its own to license and regulate medical marijuana establishments. The first regulations I’d want: no pot-leaf neon signs, no tie dyed scrubs, and no public display of the phrase “da kine.”
  • City Councilmember Tim Burgess wants the big public todo about child prostitution to become a little less about the rival grandstandings of celebs, politicians, and publishers, and a little more about the children themselves. At least that’s what I hope Burgess wants.
  • The Thunderbird Motel that became the Fremont Inn, one of the notorious drug-dealer-infused motels on Aurora shut down a year or two back? It could become Catholic-run low income housing.
  • The state’s sending up helicopters to test local radiation levels. But don’t panic, officials insist.
  • The old idea to put up a surplus 60 foot Lava Lamp in the tiny Eastern Wash. burg of Soap Lake? It’s on again.
  • You might not have heard of it yet, but there’s a longshoremen’s protest at a new grain terminal in Longview, where management has hired nonunion workers. A recent protest got 100 union dock workers and supporters arrested.
  • A Daily Kos diarist compares the continuing nonsense over the federal deficit to “worrying about the water bill when the house is on fire.”
  • Time claims Americans “distinguish toiler paper brands better than banks.” Insert snarky comments here.
  • What are the chances that l’affaire Murdoch could cause the decline and fall of the Fox “News” Channel? Not much, I believe; at least not directly or right away. Murdoch’s UK papers used grody methods to amass information about politicians, celebrities, the royal family, and even violent-crime victims. Fox “News” doesn’t give a damn about information; it just makes crap up.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 6/30/11
Jun 30th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey
  • Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer said he’d like to be involved in an effort to bring men’s pro basketball back to Seattle. But, he claims, there’s a “real estate problem.” This problem can only be solved with a new arena, which would cost $300-500 million. KeyArena, Ballmer asserts, is too small; though it’s actually well in the range of NBA arena capacities. What it lacks are more luxury boxes and an NHL-friendly hockey configuration. Ballmer also apparently didn’t mention that as long as the City of Seattle owns KeyArena, it won’t subsidize a new building that would compete for concerts and other bookings. Even if the city had the money, which it doesn’t. (Question: Could KeyArena be expanded again without knocking down the nearby Northwest Court complex?)
  • For decades, University of Washington administrators have chafed at the presence of all those pesky college students walking around, diverting time and attention away from the world-class-research-institution stuff the administrators would much rather focus on. Now, the current UW bigwigs have come across a solution, in the form of a whoppin’ 20 percent in-state tuition hike. Students plan to protest.
  • The federal government has indeed sold the former Rick’s strip club building. And yes, the new owner will probably open another strip club there.
  • Howard S. Wright, the construction giant that built the Space Needle and Columbia Center, was sold off to a Texas company.
  • Could it really rain more at airports?
A SEATTLE MANIFESTO, AND ANOTHER
Apr 7th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

Mayor Mike McGinn is one of the civic leaders who’ve submitted short essays to Dan Bertolet’s new CityTank.org, on the topic of celebrating urban life.

McGinn’s piece is a photo essay (merely excerpted below) that reads like a manifesto:

Sarah Palin and other figures on the right like to talk about “small town values” as being “the real America.” We know better. These are our values:

  • We have great urban places, where people can live and shop in the same building. And we protect them.
  • Seattleites create and use urban spaces – their way. From the bottom up.
  • We take care of each other – and we feed each other.
  • We’re not scared of new ideas.
  • We think idealism is a virtue.
  • We play like it matters, because it does.
  • We stand up for each other.
  • We share our cultures with each other. And the music, the art, the food…is astounding.
  • We love race and social justice.
  • We expect our youth to achieve.

President Barack Obama called on America to win the future. Mr. President, the people of Seattle are ready.

Since I believe one good manifesto deserves another, I hereby offer my own:

David Guterson and other figures on Bainbridge Island like to talk about the countryside as being the only real place to live. We know better. These are our values:

  • We value diverse workplaces and gatherings. Upscale white men alongside upscale white women—and even upscale white gays.
  • Yet we also admire African Americans; preferably if they are both musical and dead.
  • We champion the institution of public education, as long as our own kids can get into a private school.
  • We celebrate people’s expressions of sexuality, provided they’re not too, you know, sexual.
  • We strive toward progressive, inclusive laws and policies except when they would inconvenience business.
  • We take pride in our urban identity, as we build more huge edifices and monuments to desperately prove how world class we are.
  • We support the arts, particularly when that support doesn’t stick us in the same room with unkempt artists.
  • We value regional planning and cooperation, even with those mouth-breathing hicks out there.
  • We protect and enhance the environment, particularly those environments we drive 40 miles or more to hike in.
  • We love a strong, vital music scene that’s in someone else’s neighborhood.
  • We appreciate our heritage. We moan about how everything in this town sucks; then, years later, we claim it was great back then but all sucks now.
  • We value a strong, independent news media, regularly alerting us to the city’s 103 Best Podiatrists.
  • We admire innovation and original ideas, especially if they’re just like something from New York or San Francisco.
  • We support locally-based businesses until they get too big.

President Barack Obama has advocated “the fierce urgency of now.” Mr. President, the people of Seattle will get around to it once they’ve finished playing Halo: Reach.

TROLLING FOR $$?
Dec 29th, 2010 by Clark Humphrey

You’ve heard of paid signature gatherers. Now, George Monbiot ponders whether corporate and right-wing forces are hiring paid Internet comment trolls.

I do know this site’s comment threads have been attacked in recent weeks by spam bots. In my efforts to “moderate” those pitch people off of the site, I might have inadvertently excised an actual comment by one of you dear readers. My apologies.

PRESERVATION ALERT OF THE WEEK
Mar 6th, 2010 by Clark Humphrey

The old Rainier Brewery on Airport Way South is contaminated with toxic exterior paints. If a solution isn’t found to remove or seal up the old paint, the whole complex might get condemned and demolished.

It’s a beautiful labyrinth of industrial spaces, now housing artist studios and the Tully’s Coffee head office. (The coffee roasting plant, located in part of the old brewery for several years, is now closed; Tully’s product is now made by Green Mountain Roasters in Sumner.)

This is a landmark. It needs to stay. Period.

THE END OF THE ROAD IS A CUL DE SAC
Feb 11th, 2010 by Clark Humphrey

Our ol’ pal Tim Egan knows where the new poverty is at—”Slumburbia.”

UN-STUFFING
Jul 7th, 2009 by Clark Humphrey

Arcade, the Northwest architecture and design quarterly, devoted its summer issue to environmental themes.

But instead of hyping new “green” buildings and products, many of the issue’s essays (guest-edited by Charles Mudede and Jonathan Golob) propose a world with fewer buildings and products.

Granted, this year we’re not adding too much to the total world supply of them.

This is particularly the case with California professor Barry Katz’s closing piece, “The Promise of Recession.” Katz remembers how past designers such as William Morris sought to influence the world by promoting an honest, simple aesthetic. Then Katz imagines a near-future in which “every act of production and consumption stabilizes, or even adds to, our collective natural assets.”

This, he believes, means a lot fewer new products (of all kinds), hence a lot fewer people employed to design those products. But there would be work for “post-designers.” Some of these would revamp the already-built world to be more sustainable and more nature-friendly. Others would devise “an ecology of information, thinning the festering datamass and rehabilitating the printed page.”

Similar themes are posited by Golob in “Green On Wheels.” He argues that today’s gasoline-powered automobiles are just about as efficient as they can ever be, when you figure in the costs of refining and transporting the fuel. No, Golob avers, “carrying about two hundred pounds of human being in four thousand pounds of boxy steel, glass and aluminum” is an activity whose time will soon pass, by necessity, whether we like it or not.

Also in the issue:

  • Three fantasy illustrations by Jed Dunkerly, depicting speculative attempts at “Engineering the Environment”—using sky-bound sprinkler systems to rain on farmland, using offshore “wind rigs” to alter air currents, and using construction cranes to plant fully-grown trees.
  • Nicholas Veroli on the meaning of “catastrophe,” and whether any situation (including the present environmental crisis) can be called one before it’s past-tense.
  • Erin Kendig on Krazy!, a book documenting last year’s Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit exploring the surrealistic sides of comics, animation, and related arts.
  • Jim Cava reviewing Tony Fry’s book Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice. Cava agrees with Fry’s assertion that the constant making and selling of what Cava calls “unnecessary consumables” is bad for the planet, no matter how “green” any individual product is claimed to be. Fry and Cava insist we need to redesign our whole consumerist culture, not merely individual consumer products.

If we take Fry’s case (and those of the other Arcade contributors) seriously, the human-built environment will change. It’s not just unwise to keep going the way we’ve gone this past century, it’s impossible.

The only question is what we’ll change into.

SPEAKING OF AL GORE'S…
Oct 12th, 2007 by Clark Humphrey

…Nobel Peace Prize, here’s a lucid and elequent congratulatory essay by local-boy-made-good (and done good) Alex Steffen.

I first knew Steffen when he ran Steelhead, one of the most intelligent and handsome local zines this burg has ever produced.

Since then, he’s traveled much of the world, written a lot of important things, and in 2003 guest-edited the last, never-printed, issue of Whole Earth magazine, the last descendant of Stewart Brand’s old Whole Earth Catalog.

book coverYou’ll find vast acreage of smart prose by Steffen and compatriots at WorldChanging.com, his site dedicated to “bright green” eco-solutions.

I’m currently halfway through the huge (600-plus pages) WorldChanging book, edited by Steffen and written by himself and several dozen appropriate-tech experts. (Gore contributed a short introduction.)

WorldChanging’s shtick has been described as an update of the Whole Earth “Access to Tools” shtick, adapted for a generation of bloggers and a post-WTO sensibility.

Unlike a lot of the gloom-n’-doom nihilism preached by eco-leftists, Steffen and his team concentrate on solutions to the planet’s big and small problems. The book covers everything from urban planning and refugee camps to renewable energy and adequate water supplies. The emphasis throughout is on Things We Can Really Do About It.

If Barack Obama bills himself as the politician of hope, Steffen is its scribe.

As Steffen writes in his Gore piece today:

“If we do our jobs right, life will get better. The systems we currently rely on don’t just destroy the environment, they limit our happiness. We do not live in the best of all possible worlds. We know it is possible to create lives which are not only profoundly more sustainable, but more prosperous, comfortable, stylish, healthy, safe and fun. If we do our jobs right, a bright green future will be downright sexy.”

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