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RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/18/12
May 17th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

u.s. geological survey

Happy Mount St. Helens Day!

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/16/12
May 15th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

The recession has claimed another victim, the Betsey Johnson boutique on Fifth Avenue.

  • King County Exec Dow Constantine was caught with an email revealing he’d had an affair with a co-worker. At a press conference, “No Drama Dow” (who has an unmarried live-in partner) quietly admitted the indiscretion.
  • The city and county could announce they’re signing off on the Sodo arena plan as early as today.
  • KOMO’s Ken Schram insists that the poor (and everybody else) should still get to buy things with cash.
  • A community activist group says light rail has accelerated the gentrification of the Rainier Valley, making the mixed-race neighborhood a lot paler.
  • Video footage helps a May Day protester escape prosecution.
  • The wages of not supporting the iPhone: T-Mobile USA‘s laying off another 900 workers.
  • First it was nuns. Now the right-wing Catholic bishops are harassing the Girl Scouts. (Make your own joke about how everybody knows they prefer boys.)
  • ‘Future of News’ Dept.: A spokescritter for Rupert Murdoch’s iPad news app The Daily (no relation to the infinitely more distinguished UW Daily) insists the online newspaper is on the road to profitability.
  • Even with health insurance, medical care is getting prohibitively expensive.
  • America’s real first gay president? Buchanan.
  • Michael Lind at Salon asks, “Why do conservatives hate freedom?”…
  • …while “MinistryOfTruth” at Daily Kos makes brutal accusations toward your sterotypical teabag conservative:

I don’t think you do love America. At least, not as much as you hate everyone in America who isn’t exactly like you.

sobadsogood.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/8/12
May 7th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

meowonline.org

Every person I talk to at a signing, every exchange I have online (sometimes dozens a day), every random music video or art gallery link sent to me by a fan that I curiously follow, every strange bed I’ve crashed on… all of that real human connecting has led to this moment, where I came back around, asking for direct help with a record. Asking EVERYBODY.… And they help because they know I’m good for it. Because they KNOW me.

  • After nearly a decade of study and planning, Seattle’s finally giving up on the idea of a city-owned broadband network. Pathetic.
  • Time is running out for any hope of saving the historic streamlined ferry Kalakala. Estimated cost of a full restoration: $50 million.
  • Ah, if only the Mariners still had some of the players they’d let slip away. If only….
  • A Long Island, NY woman is accused of using her hot-dog truck as a cover for arranging “compensated dates” (to use a recent Japanese euphemism). No “sausage” or “buns” puns here, at least not today.
  • A Utah woman claims to have found cocaine packed in a box of tampons. Just think of it as an extra measure of pain relief that also leaves you feeling fresh.
  • Bill Maher says what everyone except Fox News viewers already knows—that many of the most fervent Obama haters are racist, with different degrees of denial.
  • Meanwhile, a Washington Monthly writer believes the Presidential election will be decided by Hispanic voters (i.e., one of the groups the Rabid Right is most virulently bigoted against).
  • There’s an anonymous novel out of Portland (originally self published by the author, who only calls himself “The Author”). It’s getting a lot of attention. It’s about a young man’s doomed relationship with “someone who considers Courtney Love to be her role model.” What makes it extra-special is it’s formatted like one of those old “Choose Your Own Adventure” kids’ books. Only every choice “you” make leads to the same miserable ending. I also like the title: Love Is Not Constantly Wondering If You Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life.
  • Not only are grad students getting buried in piles of student-loan debt, they might not even get into the careers for which they’re studying (cf. the rising number of Ph.Ds on food stamps).
  • A marketing analyst calls 2012 “the year of inverse retro-futurism.” Whatever the heck that is.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/4/12
May 3rd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

udhcmh.tumblr.com

  • The above vintage paperback cover comes from a blog located in a college town—Columbus OH, not Spokane WA. (Found via Pulp International.)
  • The Seattle Police have an on-staff graffiti interpreter. And he says only 3 percent of Seattle’s graffiti has anything to do with street gangs.
  • State Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna may have found his most potent nemesis—not election rival Jay Inslee but 90 women who are suing McKenna for participating (in the name of the people of Washington) in the right wing’s anti-Obamacare crusade.
  • Scott North at the Everett Herald looks back to Wash. state’s own U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and his role in making forest conservation a real thing.
  • Amazon, continuing in its quest to become kings of all media, is starting its own movie production company. And it’s soliciting concepts for “TV style” web shows—sitcoms and kids’ shows, live-action and animated. And unlike some online “screenwriting contest” scam sites, they don’t keep the rights to works they don’t use.
  • “He who controls the Spice controls the universe.”
  • As the Seattle arena proposal moves forward quickly, ex-City Council member Richard McIver suggests putting it instead in the Rainier Valley, near the Mt. Baker light rail station and I-90. (It would also be near the former site of Sicks’ Stadium, home of minor league baseball for 30 years and Major League Baseball for oen year.)
  • Meanwhile, a member of the ownership team that stole the Sonics has lost his chairman role at Chesapeake Energy, due to alleged conflicts of interest. Couldn’t happen to an un-nicer guy.
  • From the verdant town of Corvallis (where I spent two formative years of my life) comes the tale of a bright young woman who became a hit with a sports-gambling blog, then became a top contributor to ESPN.com, and then allegedly used this fame to scam would-be business colleagues.
  • Ashton Kutcher sure can get all high-horse righteous when he’s denouncing the sex industry. But perpetuating racist stereotypes in commercials—that’s something he apparently doesn’t mind at all.
  • Some people don’t want to be Americans anymore. They’re one-percenters trying to flee tax evasion charges.
  • Former Wall Street operative Alexis Goldstein describes the milieu of Big Finance as a place where people strive…

to earn enough money so that you can behave in a way that makes the very existence of other people irrelevant.…

Wall Street is far too self-absorbed to be concerned with the outside world unless it is forced to. But Wall Street is also, on the whole, a very unhappy place. While there is always the whisper that maybe you too can one day earn fuck-you money, at the end of a long day, sometimes all you take with you are your misguided feelings of self-righteousness.

DATAPANIK (AND CLASS WAR) IN YEAR ZERO
Apr 30th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

last.fm

Pere Ubu founder, noise-rock legend, and great Clevelander David Thomas is, by his own admission, a middle class boy.

And in a recent interview he claims that…

all adventurous art is done by middle-class people. Because middle-class people don’t care. Because middle-class people don’t care. “I’m going to do what I want, because I can do something else better and make more money than this.”

At the Collapse Board site (started by ex-Seattleite Everett True), blogger Wallace Wylie begs to disagree:

It surely does not need pointing out that almost every adventurous musical innovation of the 20th Century came from working-class origins. The blues, jazz, country, rock’n’roll, soul, reggae, disco, r&b, hip-hop, techno, house; the list goes on. It would take a mixture of ignorance and arrogance on a monumental scale to appropriate all of these innovations for the middle-classes.

You can probably think of your own exceptions, in music and other artistic fields as well.

Then the Scottish-born Wylie goes on to repeat the longtime meme that most American middle-class teens didn’t know about large swaths of American blues and R&B, until they heard them from British rockers:

…While British bands were playing Chuck Berry, embryonic American garage bands were cutting their chops on ‘Gloria’ by Them. In other words, rock music is a British creation that Americans subsequently copied. Bob Dylan named his fifth album Bringing It All Back Home in reference to the fact that British bands had shown Americans music from their own country that they didn’t know existed and now it was time for an American to take these influences back.

That familiar tale neglects the role American “hip” whites (including Cleveland’s own DJ legend Alan Freed) played in bringing R&B across the color line, leading to the commercial teenybopper variant Freed billed as “rock n’ roll.”

It neglects the white garage bands (such as Tacoma’s own Fabulous Wailers) who studiously covered and imitated their favorite R&B sides, especially during the pre-Beatles years.

Methinks Wylie has his own cultural blinders with which to deal.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/30/12
Apr 30th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

irwin allen's 'the time tunnel' (1966), via scaryfilm.blogspot.com

  • If a Seattle attorney was really involved in government time travel experiments when he was a boy, like he claims, why couldn’t he have brought back the lost episodes of the original Doctor Who?
  • Zillow.com predicts local housing prices will continue to fall for another year before they “hit bottom.”
  • The Seattle Times has a where-are-they-now piece about the former 619 Western studio artists.
  • Spokane would really like to keep its biggest employer, Fairchild AFB.
  • Marketing-trends analyst Faith Popcorn insists the economy would be a lot better off today if the big Wall Street firms had more women in power roles.
  • Koo Stark update: Prince Andrew’s actress ex-girlfriend is using the Rupert Murdoch organization in a U.S. court over phone tapping. (Her complaint is still about Murdoch’s U.K. papers, not his stateside operations.)
  • Kashi cereal eaters were shocked to learn (1) the soy in Kashi’s products uses Monsanto seeds, and (2) Kashi’s really owned by Kellogg’s.
  • The Great Vinyl Comeback isn’t just for indie pop anymore. Classical artists are now getting in on it.
  • Nick Harkaway at the Guardian sees Amazon and the other big e-book sellers as “the new gatekeepers,” steering consumers toward select choices rising from the “rabble.”
  • In terms of paying as little in taxes as legally possible, Apple turns out to be just like any other big company.
  • Longtime online analyst Dave Winer suggests there’s another Internet bubble going on, involving social-media and content-based sites. Winer says those sites’ funders are…

…building businesses whose only way of making money will be through advertising. Are there as many different ways to slice things as all the startups, collectively, would have you believe? And when they’re done, what will happen to them?

  • Lindy West’s recent putdown of “hipster racism” reminded Channing Kennedy at the Colorlines site of a similar rant, given in 1979 by the late great rock critic Lester Bangs.
  • Alas, we’re not really going to be rid of Newt Gingrich; only of his Presidential campaign.
  • Noted author E.L. Doctorow traces how 12 years of right-wing power grabbing has left America an “unexceptional” nation.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/28/12
Apr 28th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

joybra.com, via seattlepi.com

  • Dept. of Things You Never Knew You Needed: UW business students have designed a bra with a pocket for an iPhone.
  • Seattle’s (the nation’s? the world’s?) longest running serialized stage play, the Asian American-centric Sex in Seattle series, ends after 12 years with episode 20, opening this weekend.
  • Amazon’s quarterly profits are 35 percent lower than a year ago. To Wall Street, that’s seen as good news somehow.
  • The Sacramento Kings’ arena deal is apparently dead. The team might or might not be put up for sale any week now. Seattle has a wannabe majority owner, a perfectly functional arena, and the land and initial plans for a new arena.
  • Vancouver punk legend Joey “Shithead” Kiethley sez he’ll run next year for a seat in B.C.’s provincial legislature. He’s done this twice before, on Green Party tickets. But this time he’ll run on the ticket of the New Democrats (Canada’s official national “opposition” party). He’s putting into practice his old motto, “Talk – Action = Zero.”
  • Gay Divorcee Dept.: A B.C. judge has ruled that a split-up lesbian couple has to split their jointly owned sperm-bank deposit.
  • Are outspoken homophobes really gay but suppressing it? All I know is for me, other men’s bodies are like eggplant casseroles. I don’t wanna eat ’em but I don’t mind if you do.
  • Will the Arab world need a full-scale “cultural revolution” before women have rights there?
  • Nutella: not as “healthy” as some consumers apparently thought.
  • The story about Egypt legalizing sex between widowers and their dead wives? A complete hoax.
  • In an interview promoting her new film Hysteria (about the first electric sex tools for women and the “medical” excuses advertised for them), Maggie Gyllenhaal talks about why there are so few emotionally powerful sex scenes in U.S. movies. My theory: Most sex scenes in mainstream films are escapist in nature. Many serve as breaks from the plot, like the songs in many musicals. These include scenes choreographed to emphasize the woman’s responses. To use such a scene to reveal a character’s personality, emotions, and vulnerabilities, to show a female character with her sense of public decorum stripped away, is a rare feat.
  • Did Romney only tell 10 major lies last week?
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/27/12
Apr 26th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

j.r. simplot co./idaho dept. of environmental quality, via kplu

  • Lots of good stuff at KPLU today. First, they’ve got some “mutant two-headed trout” found in an Idaho stream (the result of pollution from a nearby mine). Then there’s the list of potential “things you’ll find from the Japanese tsunami on Northwest beaches.” Finally, they report on the construction of the new 520 bridge’s pontoons. (I just love to say the word “pontoon.”)
  • Nintendo lost a whoppin’ half billion bucks on all worldwide operations last fiscal year. That’s a heckuva lot of yellow coins.
  • The UW is letting in a few more computer science majors next school year. They must have finally noticed that virtually every job advertised in Seattle requires programming knowledge.
  • Get inspired! Next week there’s a “liberal Christian revival” convention in town.
  • You know how the Costco-funded liquor privatization initiative promised convenience stores wouldn’t get to sell the hard stuff? Some of the winning bids for the state liquor stores were won by C-store operators, who might just turn those stores into C-stores that sell the hard stuff.
  • KIRO-TV has uncovered further shocking evidence that men traveling on business will sometimes visit strippers and/or prostitutes.
  • R.I.P. Ernest Callenbach, 83. The enviro-author was best known for Ecotopia, a 1975 utopian novel in which Washington and Oregon would be the outlying provinces of a San Francisco city-state. (I.e., more like a dystopia to me.)
  • Flavorwire lists the “10 Grumpiest Living Writers.” Yes, Harlan Ellison is there. But, and this might surprise you, so is Garrison Keillor.
  • Elsewhere in the book biz, Macmillan’s scifi division will issue e-books without copy protection. And author Warren Adler believes any talk about an Amazon e-book monopoly is just scare-tactic hype foisted by the conglomerate-owned big publishers.
  • Ex-Seattleite Lindy West reminds you that talking like a total racist, then when you’re caught at it claiming it was all an ironic “joke,” is still talking like a total racist.
WHY CARE ABOUT THE FAIR?
Apr 24th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

painting the needle for its big b-day party

Keith Seinfeld at KPLU recently asked, “Why does Seattle still care about the world’s fair?

That’s an excellent question.

As international expos go, Seattle’s was relatively small.

And it took place a full half century ago.

Until Mad Men came along, that era was widely considered to have been a dullsville time, a time wtih nothing much worth remembering.

The “Space Age” predicted at the fair would seem would seem ridiculous just a few years later. It predicted domed cities and cheap nuclear power. It predicted computers in the home (in the form of fridge-sized consoles) and video conferencing (with a special “picturephone”), but it didn’t predict the Internet.

It sure didn’t predict the racial, sexual, musical, and social upheavals collectively known as “The Sixties.”

And a lot of the fair’s attractions were so utterly corny, you can wonder why they were taken seriously even then. Attractions such as the world’s largest fruitcake. Or the Bubbleator (essentially just a domed platform on a hydraulic lift). Or the adults-only risqué puppet show (by the future producers of H.R. Pufnstuf).

Yet a lot of us do care about all that. And not just us old-timers either.

And not just for the physical structures the fair left behind (the Space Needle, the Science Center, etc.).

The fair was the single most important thing that happened in Seattle between World War II and the rise of Microsoft. (The launch of the Boeing 707 was the next most important.)

The fair revved up the whole Northwest tourism industry, just as jet aircraft and Interstate highways were getting more Americans to explore other parts of their nation. This once-remote corner of the country became a top destination.

The fair was a coming-out party for a new Seattle.

A Seattle dominated not by timber and fishing but by tech. Specifically, by aerospace.  Boeing had only a secondary role in equipping the U.S. space program, but its planes were already making Earth a seemingly smaller place.

The fair didn’t start the Seattle arts and performance scenes, but it gave them a new oomph.

Seattle Opera and the Seattle Repertory Theatre were immediately established in the fair’s wake.

ACT Theatre came soon after. Visual art here was already becoming famous, thanks to the “Northwest School” painters; the fair’s legacy led to increased local exposure to both local and national artists.

The fair established a foothold for modern architecture here.

Before the fair, there hadn’t been a major change to Seattle’s skyline since the Smith Tower in 1914. (The few new downtown buildings were relatively short, such as the 19-story Norton Building.)

The Space Needle became the city’s defining icon, instantly and forever.

The U.S. Science Pavilion (now Pacific Science Center) established the career of Seattle-born architect Minoru Uamasaki, who later designed the former World Trade Center.

Speaking of tragedy and turmoil, some commentators have described the fair’s era as “a simpler time.”

It wasn’t.

The Cuban missile crisis, revealed just after the fair ended, threatened to turn the cold war hot.

The whole Vietnam debacle was getting underway.

The civil rights and black power movements were quickly gaining traction.

The birth control pill was just entering widespread use.

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which helped launch the U.S. environmental movement, came out while the fair was on.

So yes, there were big issues and conflicts in 1962.

But there was also something else.

There was optimism.

In every exhibit and display at the fair, there was the notion that humans could work together to solve things.

And, at least at the fair, most everything was considered solveable.

I wrote in 1997, at the fair’s 35th anniversary, that its creators sincerely felt Americas would strive “to ensure mass prosperity (without socialism), strengthen science, popularize education, advance minority rights, and promote artistic excellence.”

It’s that forward-looking confidence that got lost along the road from the Century 21 Exposition to the 21st century.

It’s something many of us would like to see more of these days.

And that, more than Belgian waffles or an Elvis movie, is why Seattle still cares about the World’s Fair.

And why you should too.

(Cross posted with City Living.)

souvenir display at the world's fair anniversary exhibition

RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/24/12
Apr 23rd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

foodbeast.com

  • Margarita flavored Bud Light: sign of the apocalypse #6 or #7?
  • Winning bids for the state liquor stores (or rather, for the right to apply for licenses, negotiate leases, and take over inventory at the stores) are now in. Individual winners have apparently not yet been posted anywhere, but the store at 12th Avenue and East Pine Street went for a cool half million. The state’s total take (should all the sales go through): over $30 million, more than four times estimates reported just last Friday.
  • Yesterday, we mentioned how Deluxe Junk, the lovely vintage everything store that’s one of the last remnants of “Fremont funk.” faced a sudden eviction by the Masonic lodge that owns its building. Apparently there’s a settlement; alas, Deluxe Junk will still leave the premises, at the end of June.
  • The Real Change folks will get their protest camp in Westlake Park after all.
  • One little-publicized event at the big Space Needle anniversary gala: a protest by Needle restaurant workers.
  • The Canucks have made sure there won’t be riots in the Vancouver streets this June.
  • Here’s a long, loving profile of ex-Seattleite and comix genius Lynda Barry.
  • Google and Facebook: They’re hot now, but could they stumble as computing goes mobile?
  • Author Michael J. Sandel places blame for the market-ization of almost all of western society. He says the economists did it.
  • Paul Krugman blasts Romney, assuredly not for the last time.
  • A Georgetown prof really dislikes the Facebook-spawned overuse of the verb “Like.”
  • Toby Litt in Granta wonders whether long-form literature can hold an audience, or even be considered relevant, in an age of multitasking and incessant distraction. I say bah. Folks who can finish umpteen-level video games or watch entire TV-show seasons in one weekend can enjoy a story of a few hundred pages.
  • Sorry, but I can’t trust any list of the “ten most harmful novels for aspiring writers” that excludes Bukowski.
  • The top black women’s magazine hired a white guy as managing editor. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, that he turned out to be a not-so-secret racist wingnut.
  • Steven Pearlstein reminds you that some politicians actually want you to be turned off from politics. Remember: Not voting = voting a straight right-wing ticket.
  • Making stuff in China will cease being cheap sooner or later. China’s other outsourcing advantages might remain (lax environmental enforcement, autocratic government, brutal suppression of dissent).
  • TV ratings, both broadcast and cable, are way down, especially among younger viewers, and especially in terms of “real time” viewing (i.e., without DVRs; i.e., with the commercials). The hardcore TV haters will naturally ignore this, and will continue to insist that Everyone Except Them is a vidiot sheeple.
DICK CLARK, 1929-2012
Apr 19th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

abc photo via chicago tribune

The “world’s oldest teenager” was originally only a decade or so older than the teens who danced on the first incarnation of American Bandstand.

It had begun as a local Philadelphia show, started and hosted by others. (The first host got fired after he was arrested for drunk driving and implicated in a pimping ring.)

Dick Clark took over the show in 1956. The following year he got it placed in a weekday afternoon slot on ABC, the distant-third-place network at the time.

The next six years could be considered the “high point” of Bandstand, in influence if not ratings. It was telecast live every afternoon. It featured lip-sync performances by nearly every major rock star. It was the only regular national outlet for the music that would define its time. His super-clean-cut good looks and reassuring demeanor helped make that wild teenybopper music parent-friendly–including the music of black artists, who were on the show from the start.

Unlike many producers of the time, Mr. Clark kept kinescope films or videotapes of Bandstand’s entire 33-year run; an invaluable archive of many singers’ first or only U.S. TV appearances.

He quickly expanded into related ventures, including record labels (somehow avoiding implication in the “payola” scandals of the day) and package touring shows (including integrated revues, even in the deep south where such things were just not done).

In the 1963-64 season, when the Beatles (one act that didn’t appear on the show) would change pop music again, Bandstand moved to Saturday mornings and to L.A. These shows were taped in four- to six-episode batches, making them less in tune with the music world’s convulsions.

Once ensconced in Hollywood, Mr. Clark established a production “factory.” His company made Where the Action Is, the telecast of the Golden Globe Awards, the American Music Awards, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes, radio countdown and nostalgia shows, and even the psychedelic-exploitation film Psych-Out. He started rock-nostalgia theme restaurants and American Bandstand venues in Reno and Branson.

He also appeared on other producers’ programs, including 14 years on the Pyramid game shows.

He starred in 1960’s “serious” teensploitation film Because They’re Young. In 1967 he played the killer on the final episode of Perry Mason, symbolizing the youth culture that had made programs like Mason seem passé within the TV industry. And he had cameos on dozens of scripted shows, most notably on Police Squad! (desperately seeking his next fix of “miracle youth cream”).

A 2004 stroke ended his on-camera career, except for annual cameos on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. But he kept on producing (Boston Legal, Codename: Kids Next Door, So You Think You Can Dance). Dick Clark Productions will continue, one of the last prime-time producers not owned by a network or a movie studio.

Less than two weeks after the death of Mike Wallace, Mr. Clark’s loss further shrinks the number of early TV performers still with is. His legacy as a pre-MTV music introducer lives on in this post-MTV era.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/13/12
Apr 12th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

david eskenazi collection via sportspressnw.com

And a happy Friday the 13th (first of the year) and Mariners home opening day to all of you!

  • Richard Beyer, 1925-2002: The Waiting for the Interurban sculptor didn’t invent Fremont’s image as a funky/artsy neighborhood. But his work publicized this image as much as anything.
  • Something You Might Not Have Known Dept.: Seattle gets a small but impressive portion of its electricity from methane at an Oregon landfill.
  • You’ve got two more chances to have your say about Metro’s plan to ax the downtown Ride Free Area, at County Council meetings on the 16th and the 25th. Let ’em know you want/need/demand robust free downtown transit service.
  • Third Avenue in Belltown now has those “daylight-like” street lights. Next step in resurrecting Third: making the street and its buildings look cleaner.
  • With the legislative session finally over, Rob McKenna can legally raise campaign money. Thus, Washington’s gubernatorial campaign is now truly underway. Watch for McKenna to simultaneously run with and against the national Republican agenda—something Jay Inslee will try to stick onto McKenna at every opportunity.
  • St. James Cathedral is among the churches that won’t take part in the Catholic archdiocese’s initiative petition campaign to overturn gay marriage.
  • When can you start getting a legal drink in Wash. state after 2 a.m.? Perhaps in November (just perhaps).
  • Bizarre Patent Application of the Day: GeekWire says Microsoft wants to patent “monetizing buttons on TV remotes:”

It’s called “Control-based Content Pricing,” and the basic idea is dynamic pricing of video content, based on the preferences of the user at any given moment—essentially setting different prices for different functions of the TV remote.

  • Frances Cobain still can’t get away from her mom’s meddling.
  • A Spokane nursery put up a billboard reading “Pot Dealer Ahead.” The ad was complete with an image of some flower pots, in case people didn’t get the joke (it being Spokane and all). Some people are vocally not amused (it being Spokane and all).
  • The U.S. Border Patrol in this state continues to behave like a gang of racist tools.
  • North Korea just can’t keep it up.
  • Reversible male contraception is finally in the domestic testing stage, despite Big Pharma’s longtime disinterest.
  • Jed Lewison at Daily Kos parses the anatomy of a Mitt Romney lie, that over 90 percent of U.S. job losses have gone against women. In reality (instead of Fox News Fantasyland), most folks laid off in the Great Recession were men. But new or revived jobs the past two years have also gone mostly to men (56 percent).
  • The Murdoch media empire’s phone and email tapping scandal is reaching the U.S. But Murdoch’s domestic properties are not implicated, at least not yet. This is still about Murdoch’s U.K. papers, tapping into Hollywood celebrities’ phones and emails.
  • Ari Rabin-Havt at HuffPost claims right wing racism no longer bothers with coded “dog whistle” messages, but now spews its hate openly and proudly.
  • What Omar Willey says about seeking good web comics applies to just about all web “content”: “How do you find all this stuff?” (The stuff worth reading, that is.)
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/10/12
Apr 10th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

  • Seattle voters will have the chance to bring library service back from several years’ worth of drastic cuts. You know where I stand on this.
  • Meanwhile, in the land of Jorge Juis Borges’ surreal library stories, the Argentine government has banned all book imports. The lame excuse is that they could contain dangerous levels of lead. Ebooks and their reading machines, and domestic reprints of foreign books, aren’t affected.
  • The local Catholic Archdiocese, once a liberal “social gospel” bastion, has turned hard homophobic.
  • Northwest fishermen worry about Japanese tsunami debris showing up in their waters. Talk about your deadliest catch.
  • An activist group called Seattle’s greatest family-owned bakery an unfair employer, and staged a protest. Loyal customers staged a counter-protest. Cookies were tossed. Literally.
  • The two African Americans who publicly claimed Seattle Police had stopped them for no good reason, got stopped by Seattle Police again.
  • A dead orca in Washington waters has caused some to sing “Blame Canada.”
  • The UW invented kidney dialysis. Now it’s working on what might replace it.
  • The rise in cable-TV subscribers becoming former cable-TV subscribers has attracted even the financial community. One analyst hints there’d be even more cord-cutting, except that many folks are keeping cable subscriptions for Internet access.
  • The alleged “liberal media” in a “liberal state” sure don’t seem to like Jay Inslee.
  • We’d earlier mentioned that print newspaper ad revenues had sunk to 1984 levels. Someone took those figures, adjusted ’em for inflation, and concluded newsprint ad money is actually at its lowest level since 1950. (The U.S. population then was about half what it is now.)
  • Young adults aren’t just not reading print newspapers. They’re also driving a lot less and biking a lot more.
  • I’m pretty sure the only people who read the Seattle Times editorials anymore are the bloggers who righteously trash them.
  • “In Russia, a lack of men forces women to settle for less.”
  • How can something that barely has 10 employees and has not apparently made a cent in profits be worth a billion dollars?
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/7/12
Apr 6th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

casey mcnerthney, seattlepi.com

  • Will the student-made, privately-financed, but oversize Lake City Way bike rack be allowed to stay?
  • Happier real estate news for a change: El Centro de la Raza’s affordable-housing project on Beacon Hill is finally a go.
  • Cornish College to Mike Daisey: No honorary degree for you!
  • Sasha Pasulka at Geekwire says Seattle dot-coms really need to brush up on their marketing to users. I have an additional idea, for dot-coms here and elsewhere: Pay a living wage to the people who make the content (you know, the stuff people actually see when they log onto your site), not just the coders and the execs.
  • Does anybody really want to live in “America’s #1 city for hipsters“?
  • The U District’s Metro Cinemas tenplex has been sold to a Robert Redford-led consortium.
  • One of the big Republicans in the State Senate wants to eliminate medical assistance to the poor, while he himself gets monthly disability payments. He sez, of course, that he really deserves the aid; while those pesky poor people are only sick because of “poor lifestyle choices” they’ve made.
  • Martin H. Duke at the Seattle Transit Blog offers up one way how non-subsidized, affordable urban housing comes to exist…

…In the long term today’s affordable housing comes from yesterday’s luxury flats, and cutting off the supply of the latter will deny our children the former in the absence of massive, unsustainable public subsidy.

  • The “Painter of Light” has now gone into the light.
  • In what Jezebel.com claims to be a “revolutionary” business venture, three business students at a German college have placed ads for “the world’s first free sex brothel for women,” with themselves as the volunteer gigolos. They say they’ve had five “clients” thus far, out of 80 email inquiries. I wouldn’t call it a “business” per se, as no money’s involved. Rather, it’s a marketing operation, with these guys promising they’ll satisfy the women while making no demands of their own.
  • Looks like it’s going to take court action to stop Michigan’s right-wing monopoly government from essentially turning that state into a dictatorship.
  • Mobutu Sese Seko at Gawker decodes decades of right-wing racist-code-word politics, and sees them culminating in the backlash campaign to defame the Florida shooting victim.
  • Lynn Parramore at Alternet insists big corps. are not “job creators” but rather instigators of layoffs, offshoring, and massive wage cuts; and will probably continue to be so.
  • Rick Ungar at Forbes (yes, Forbes!) offers a simple answer to the health care crisis: Single-payer plans, established at the state level. He says this “dose of socialism” would be a boon to businesses in states that adopt it.
  • The Economist has found at least one dead shopping center that’s being put to new use. It’s in San Antonio, and it’s become the HQ of a web hosting company. We already did this in Everett, where Fluke Manufacturing turned an old big-box strip mall into an electronic test-equipment factory. (Too bad they didn’t call the place “Ye Olde Mall.”)
  • Neuroscientists claim stories “stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.” How to intrepret this: not as another excuse for the “eat your broccoli” definition of book reading; but as a lure, a promise that fiction gives you mental/emotional turn-ons of a kind you can’t get from games or movies.
THIS DAY IN STUPID, STUPID BIGOTRY
Mar 26th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

The American parade of pathetic little bigots, who falsely imagine themselves to be valiant crusaders instead of the bullheaded jerks they really are, just goes on and on.

Recent examples:

  • A few Hunger Games viewers sent out Tweets® expressing shock and even disgust that some of the main characters were played by black actors. Characters who weren’t even villains!
  • The usual wingnut websites and comment boards, and at least one Fox “News” show, spread deliberate lies claiming that teenage Florida shooting victim Trayvon Martin was a “gangsta” and a drug dealer. And even the local cops in the town where it happened are in on the smear.
  • For background, Pulitzer Prize author Isabel Wilkerson summarizes the long, sad history of Florida racist violence.
  • And this isn’t “today” breaking news, but Frank Rich at New York magazine has a thorough bit-by-bit deconstruction of the Republican war on women; a war which, despite this war’s own proponents’ flaming denials, does exist. Rich also mentions some Republican insiders who’ve expressed major worry and even “a dawning recognition that a grave danger had arisen—not to women, but to their own brand.”
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