Feb 23rd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


  • Forget the movie and the two bios, all full of fiction. In reality, Frances Farmer was not lobotomized. Her story’s still mighty tragic, though.
  • Architect Matt Roewe suggests a new, novel public transportation solution—a passenger gondola from the waterfront to Capitol Hill, ending atop a 16- to 40-story tower above Broadway.
  • Even some longtime Seattle citizens don’t realize the Army has held on to pieces of Fort Lawton, now surrounded by former fort land that’s now Discovery Park. That ends Saturday.
  • The last iPhone-incompatible cell service operator, Bellevue-based T-Mobile, won’t be such anymore. They’re not going to sell the iPhone any time soon, but their data plans will at least work on it once the upgrades are done.
  • Yep, looks like another stupid all-cuts budget in the Legislature, kicking the can of our regressive revenue system down the road again. However, at least Basic Health (or what’s left of it) is preserved in one of the competing budget proposals.
  • The memorial totem pole to slain carver John T. Williams will be unveiled this weekend at Seattle Center.
  • The Seattle Times wants to sell its now ex-headquarters buildings for $80 million, twice their appraised value. That would help the company to meet its pension obligations, and perhaps even help subsidize the paper.
  • Artists’ rights outrage of the week: “…A Florida judge ruled last month that iconic funk king George Clinton doesn’t own the rights to any music he created from 1976 to 1983.” That pretty much includes anything you remember from the P-Funk heyday.
  • Sponsor tie-ins and product placement, those savior/banes of modern bigtime movies, just get more ridiculous every year. Now The Lorax, that story-sermon against runaway consumerism and “stuff”-ism, is being used to sell SUVs.
  • Google’s latest potential new hardware product is something out of a modern dystopian novel. It’s “augmented reality” eyeglasses that display informative texts, social media updates, and, yes, ads.
Feb 22nd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

joe mabel, via wikimedia commons

  • How comprehensive can a list of the “10 Greatest Homes in Seattle History” be if it leaves out the Montlake spite house?
  • Something I never thought I’d see: young adults joining Elks lodges. Back in the middle of the last century, Elks clubs were huge. The one in Everett, where my father attended, had that town’s best bar, gym, and private pool, and its only live music lounge. But the national Elks were among the last American social institutions to confront their own racist/sexist policies, and hence got branded as reactionary fuddie duddies. The new Elks are promoting themselves with that so-courant “social” mantra, and cheap drinks.
  • Linda Thomas would like to remind you that Microsoft XBoxes and Amazon Kindles are also made at the same notorious Chinese factories used by Apple.
  • Thomas also performs the ever popular local-angle-on-big-story shtick, with “Local duo penned popular Whitney Houston hits.”
  • Not so fast, arena-hopers: Efforts are indeed being made to keep the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes right where they are. At worst, this would give the arena developers more time to acquire the rest of the land they’d need and to design the thing.
  • Meanwhile, Goldy dumps righteous scorn on the hippie sports-haters.
  • Mayor McGinn’s “State of the City” address mentioned the usual things (Amazon, arena, jobs, education, crime, etc.). But he also mentioned race discrimination in housing (still going on) and attempts to pull up African American school graduation rates. Unlike some ’60s-generation white people around here, McGinn actually knows there have been actual black people here other than Hendrix.
  • Knute Berger sees developers and Seattle’s civic establishment as preparing for a post-recession boom.
  • The state budget deal: done with mirrors.
  • Who’s not making money from the Facebook IPO? The $1-an-hour foreign laborers who censor your pictures on the site.
  • Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis thinks journalistic institutions should become more like Facebook. Whatever that means. Let me explain briefly why this is hokum: Professional journalism (no matter what contrived “social” or “search” elements are tacked onto it) is someone relaying/interpreting information, telling factual stories for collective audiences. It’s nothing even vaguely similar to the huge censored chat room that is Facebook.
  • Amanda Marcotte says the Girl Scouts, current topic of a trumped-up right wing smear campaign, really were progressive at the start, just by having girls do the same “scouting” things boys were doing.
  • D.L. MacKenzie boils down the whole Libertarian thang into a simple mantra, in which Business is supposed to be Always Good and Government is supposed to be Always Bad. (As you might expect from this summary, MacKenzie interprets this mantra as a gross oversimplification, at odds with the complications of the real world.)
  • Where not to go to get away from drugs: small towns.
  • My fave recent American author David Foster Wallace would have been 50 this week. He never even got to live to see The Year of the Trial Size Dove Bar (a shtick in his most famous work Infinite Jest).
Feb 19th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

walla walla union-bulletin, via bygone walla walla

  • As we prepare to mark a half century since the Century 21 Exposition, another local institution also marks the big five-O. Let’s raise a Coca-Cola Freestyle and some Mexi-Fries to the fiftieth birthday of Taco Time. (The Washington Taco Time, that is; not the same-named but separate Oregon chain.)
  • Cold cases may make for popular TV dramas, but the folks who actually pursue them are facing layoffs.
  • The Legislative session’s more than halfway done. Still nothing even on the horizon that would address our state’s crippling, unjust revenue system.
  • Stanley Siegel at Psychology Today says your tastes in porn can reveal your personality—even the person you wish you were. If true, then it means I long to live in a never-really-was vision of 1970s Europe, surrounded by dirndl-clad Alpine lasses, slinky Indonesian photographers, and clean-cut German coeds. (And cool cars and cooler music.)
  • Memo to the pop music world: Dude, you’re not gettin’ Adele.
  • Friday’s BP refinery fire could have been covered as an environmental disaster barely averted, or a sign that this company still can’t be trusted. Instead, the Seattle Times‘ lead proclaimed the event’s most important aspect was that it “might boost gas prices.”
  • Paul Krugman explains, at length, what the Wall St. crooks did. As for righting their wrongs, he says “It’s not that simple.” (Link contains NSFW banner ads.)
  • Sarah Jaffe proclaims that America is becoming “less, not more, conservative.”
  • Layla Farah at Huffington Post lists 11 living both-black-and-gay icons. They are two writers, one professor, one news anchor, three film directors, one comedian, two magazine editors, and one former athlete. No singers, musicians, actors, elected officials, businesspeople, scientists, or current athletes. And, in a major act of omission, no DJ Riz.
Feb 11th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


  • Did you know Heinz had a soup factory in Kent? Emphasis on the “had.”
  • Just when you thought you’d seen everything, something unexpected comes. Today’s edition: A poet who’s actually got people listening to him. Meet the Tacoma guy behind the viral video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.”
  • A Facebook ad said an Issaquah heavy-metal guitarist with the stage name Steve Thunderbolt was looking for bandmates, but insisted on “no blacks”. Not ’cause he was a racist or anything; it was just “a drug issue and a safety issue.”
  • It’s not just Ron Paul. The national Republican Party as a whole seems to just luuuuuv them some white supremacists.
  • The UW president, the state’s highest paid employee, claims finding answers to education funding in Wash. state is “above my pay grade.”
  • Soul divas aren’t supposed to die this young.
  • Let’s hear it for last week’s #1 selling musical star on Amazon’s CD and download charts: Leonard Cohen! (Really.)
  • Let’s close, just for the heckuvit, with Mike Wallace in a shortening commercial.
Feb 8th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

  • My book Walking Seattle (you do all have your own copy by now, right?) just happens to take readers past five historic Christian Science church buildings in different parts of town. All are now occupied by others; two as other churches and three re-purposed to new uses. The last of these, a townhome redevelopment on 15th Avenue East on Capitol Hill, is finally done. Lawrence Cheek explores both the architectural and usage ironies in turning a house of worship into homes for the upscale.
  • (By the way, Walking Seattle has its own online companion now, as an add-on virtual tour guide within the iOS/Android app ViewRanger!)
  • (By the other way, North Sound readers who want to learn more about traipsing through the Jet City can attend a Walking Seattle presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday Feb. 26 at Village Books in Bellingham.)
  • Damn: J.C. Penney won’t be coming back to downtown Seattle after all. So let’s get Kohl’s in the old Borders space, and a full branch of the University Book Store upstairs in the Kress building (where Penney’s was supposed to have gone).
  • In today’s wacky city survey of the day, Seattle ranks last in average pay raises last year. (Note to bosses, particularly in the tech biz: People can’t eat break-room foosball tables. Wanna hold on to those people you insist are so vital to your continued growth n’ success n’ stuff? Treat ’em better.)
  • In a related story, the labor union UNITE/HERE is fighting to get a better deal for workers at the Space Needle, who’ve been offered the usual raw deal of takebacks and job insecurity.
  • Megan Seling asks the musical question, if Seattle does get NHL hockey, what local standard should be the team’s “goal song“? I’m more interested in the team name. If we do get the currently league-owned Phoenix Coyotes, we wouldn’t really need to change that moniker. After all, this state is the birthplace of the creator of Wile E. Coyote.
  • Somebody who claims to have done his research has come up with an online, annotated Seattle gang map.
  • How to end police brutality? Studies? Consultants? “Process”? No?
  • Sadly, there are still some pathetic, deluded dudes who want to turn the inland Northwest into a white supremacist “homeland.”
  • You want to know how completely unpopular the far right’s social agenda is? Consumer marketing and advertising have completely ignored/rejected it. (Yes, many of you reject marketing and advertising. But advertisers want to sell by appealing to common contemporary values. And those are not the values either held, or paid lip-service to, by today’s rabid right.)
  • I didn’t notice this when it came out, but New York magazine noted a couple months ago that e-books have become “a whole new literary form.” Specifically, the mag cited the fact that e-books can be any length, thus creating a market for long “short nonfiction” and short “long nonfiction.”
  • Rampant, pathetic homophobia can pop up anywhere, even among the people you’d think were least likely to absorb it. Such as female tennis stars.
  • The LA Times thinks it’s tracked down the world’s most unromantic tourist destinations. I dunno. I can certainly imagine the erotic symbolism of Australia’s giant earthworm museum.
  • Our ol’ pal Jim Romenesko’s got a growing list of “words journalists use that people never say.” My own favorites include pontiff, solon, stumping, embattled, succumb, cohort, loggerheads, cagers, and, of course, moniker.
Feb 1st, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


The premise of Soul Train was elevator-pitch simple: an American Bandstand for soul music. A hip but authoritative producer/host. Kids, dressed in the latest teen fashions, dancing in a studio to the latest hits. Two or more in-person guests each show, performing live or lip-syncing.

Anybody in the industry, including Bandstand impresario Dick Clark, could have launched such a show.

But nobody had (on a national level) until Cornelius came along.

Cornelius had been a news reader and backup DJ on Chicago radio, and had hosted teen “record hops” in the area. He started Soul Train on a local Chicago TV station in 1970. The following year, it moved to syndication (and to Hollywood). Within a year from that, it was on in 25 cities.

By 1974, when its theme song “TSOP” became a top 10 hit, it was an institution. It easily buried the rival show Soul Unlimited (Dick Clark’s imitation of Cornelius’s imitation of Bandstand).

For two more decades, the show was the showcase for soul, R&B, and the emerging hiphop and breakdance scenes.

By 1993, rap and its related dance moves had steadily gotten more “hardcore,” far from Cornelius’s personal tastes. He hired a series of replacement hosts while continuing to own and run the show, which aired on fewer stations in more obscure time slots.

Soul Train wound to a close in 2006. Reruns aired for another couple of years. After that, Cornelius sold the rights to an outside company, which has put out DVD sets and a YouTube clip channel. (Cornelius had tried to keep Soul Train performances off the Internet, employing staff to hunt down, and order the deletion of, any such clips.)

In his later years, the man who’d preached prosocial messages to his young audiences was accused of domestic violence by his estranged second wife.

But the legacy of his career shines on.

“And as always in parting, we wish you love, peace, and soul!”

Jan 30th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

  • Forget the old standards of celebrity. What really matters is how often somebody’s name appears in crossword puzzles!
  • Update: Americans for Prosperity Washington didn’t even get a wrist-slap from the state Public Disclosure Commission. As we mentioned previously, the Koch brothers-affiliated outfit spent a bunch of money running attack ads against Dem legislators. They then tried to skirt PDC rules about identifying its funding and sources, by claiming it was just doing a “grassroots” “voter education” drive.
  • Will the last prof to leave the UW please turn out the lights?
  • Those lovely small private planes that brighten our skies also help to pollute ’em. They’re the last vehicles still fueled by leaded gas.
  • The former BMW Seattle dealership complex, a huge swath of prime Pike/Pine real estate, is at risk for foreclosure.
  • Intiman Theater: Is it a goner for good, or will it rise from the dead (like approximately 90 Shakespeare characters)?
  • The newest indie music label business model, via Vancouver: no CDs. Just downloads and vinyl.
  • Weird-research-study story of the day: If you believe a report from an obscure Canadian university’s psych department, “low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies.”
  • First lesson in “unleashing the power of introverts“: Don’t make ’em press the flesh to promote their own books.
  • Political figures in India would really like all the Internet companies in the world to pre-censor everything on the web.
  • For a guy who wants to deny horrible things put in print under his name, Ron Paul sure has a lot of close mega-racist pals.
  • A Spanish judge wants to prosecute some of the worst surviving criminals-against-humanity from the Franco dictatorship days. So far, the only person being prosecuted is him.
  • The founder of Foxconn, that group of Chinese factories where a helluva lot of the world’s consumer electronic goods are made, spoke at a fundraiser for the Taipei Zoo. He reportedly “joked” about his company’s workforce as “one million animals.”
Jan 28th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

boxx corp.

  • A Portland company is about to bring out the “Boxx” scooter, an all-electric two wheel vehicle (30 mph top speed; 40 miles per charge). It’s got a lot of cool sounding features, but its main attribute is its shape. Yes, it looks like you’re driving a really big white smartphone or 4G-era Mac desktop unit. The design is not only spiffy but practical for the company, because it can ship the whole thing via UPS. But how will it look (let alone perform) on the road? You’ll have to guess that part. The company’s website appears to not include a single image of the thing being driven, or even in the same shot as a human. (The thing’s only 40 inches long. Calculate the other dimensions on your own and guess whether your particular rump would fit on it.)
  • The “offshoring” of making stuff: Apple’s the current poster child for the practice and its related sins. Before that, Nike and Walmart were. But really, says Larry Dignan at ZDNet, it’s our fault for wanting so much cheap stuff. I disagree. Dignan might live in the upscale bubble of the techie caste, where consumers could choose higher-priced domestic products if more were available. But outside of those rarified circles, too many of us absolutely have to equip our households (and our home offices) as economically as possible (partly due to a lousy domestic economy, which is partly due to all that offshoring).
  • Author Honorée Fanonne Jeffers explains why a white person (i.e. Jan Brewer) shoving a finger in the face of a black person (i.e. Obama) is a “teachable moment” in race understanding.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates looks at the latest revelations about Ron Paul’s old newsletter business and concludes Paul might not have actually been a racist, just a cynical exploitive suck-up to racists.
  • Eric Boehlert claims at least one or two Republican operatives are dismayed at how the whole party has kowtowed to the Fox “News” Channel’s “radical, fear-based agenda.”
  • Meanwhile, Richard Eskow compares the GOP debates to “bad 1950s style science fiction;” specifically as the candidates…

…play their parts in an implausible story of a world that could never exist, acting out nonexistent conflicts while delivering dialog that insults the intelligence. That’s not because they’re stupid. It’s because they think you are.

Jan 27th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

  • Does David Horsey really believe Newt Gingrich stands a serious chance of becoming president (or rather, that America stands a serious chance of being saddled with such a corrupt egotist getting “the nuclear button”)? Or is he simply being provocative for its own sake?
  • Ex-UW public affairs prof Hubert Locke, meanwhile, listens to Gingrich’s debate rants and hears plenty of “racial code words.”
  • This is a fairly long and complex story, but the gist appears to be this: Current state GOP boss (and former KVI hate-talk host) Kirby Wilbur set up a Washington branch of the Koch Bros.’ astroturf lobbying group Americans for Prosperity. National AFP HQ helped Wilbur’s guys traipse through a loophole in state laws about partisan political committees, by claiming to instead be a “grassroots” lobbying group, a group that wasn’t really endorsing candidates or policy positions. Even though it ran cleverly-worded stealth attack ads against 13 Democratic legislators, just before the ’10 elections. By deftly skirting around state Public Disclosure Commission guidelines, Washington AFP didn’t have to reveal its money sources. What’s more, it might get to do so in the future, depending on how the state PDC decides to clarify its rules.
  • State Attorney General (and GOP gubernatorial candidate) Rob McKenna tries to prove he’s hep with the digital generation by spearheading a crackdown against Facebook “clickjacking” scams.
  • With private liquor sales coming to Washington (but only at large retail spaces), here come the out-of-state big-box liquor chains.
  • Male and female co-CEOs of a world famous company battle in and out of the courts over full control, leading to a restraining order against one of them. It could be a plot for a potboiler novel or a made-for-TV movie, but probably not for an Archie Comic.
  • RealNetworks, the local outfit that pioneered streaming online audio/video, just sold a bunch of patents to Intel for $120 million. In other news, RealNetworks still exists.
Jan 23rd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

from three sheets northwest

  • Well, whaddya know? Looks like gay marriage will pass the state Senate! (It’s always been expected to pass the state House.)
  • Historic-preservation bad news #1: The Kalakala, currently docked in Tacoma, started listing to one side during Friday’s wind storm. The Army Corps of Engineers stepped in to prevent the legendary streamined ferry boat from sinking. Its current owner can’t afford to restore it, perhaps not even to fix it. The owner of the dock where it’s moored wants it out. It’s been offered for sale for as little as $1. If no repair plan, new owner, and/or new dock site emerge, the Corps of Engineers could seize and dismantle it.
  • Historic-preservation bad news #2: Lawrence Kreisman from Historic Seattle blasts Sound Transit, because he agency plans to demolish the Standard Records storefront on NE 65th Street, as part of its Roosevelt light-rail station project. But few people seem to care that the same project would obliterate the original QFC store.
  • Bellevue’s own Redbox is now the biggest video rental company in the nation (if you count physical discs, not streams or downloads).
  • “Distressed homes.” That’s the term for sales of foreclosed homes, and for “short sales” of homes for less than what’s owed on them. They’re one-third of home sales in King County these days, and half of home sales in Pierce and Snohomish counties.
  • State Rep. Reuven Carlyle is the latest to express his disgust at draconian all-cuts state budgets and the “tyranny of the minority” behind them.…
  • …while Knute Berger ponders whether the reluctance to admit the need for public services, and for a reformed tax system to support them, is a sign that the social fabric of our city, state, and nation could be collapsing from within.
  • The next bowling alley scheduled for demolition: Robin Hood Lanes in Edmonds, a fine place at which I have bowled (pathetically, as I always do).
  • You know the sorry state of newspapers and big consumer magazines. But do you know what other print genre is “staggering along” on “geriatric legs”? Manga. For one thing, the biggest U.S. outlet for translated Japanese comic magazines and graphic novels (as much as one-third of total sales) was the now-imploded Borders Books. And the Japanese home-country market for the stuff is also shrinking and aging, partly due to Japan’s declining birth rate. (Thanx and a hat tip to Robert Boyd for the link.)
  • Post-SOPA item #1: Could the Internet censorship dust-up drive a wedge between Democrats and one of the few big industries (entertainment) that mostly donates to Democratic campaigns?
  • Post-SOPA item #2: Even in Denmark, the copyright industry loves to disguise its proposed Internet censorship laws as “crackdowns against child pornography.”
  • Post-SOPA item #3: The MegaUpload bust has led several other file sharing sites to refuse access from U.S. users, or to restrict downloads of files to the same users who’d uploaded them. But would a complete end to noncommercial piracy really lead everybody into attaining all the same content commercially? Not bloody likely.
  • Why are most computers, smartphones, HDTVs, etc. made in China and not here? It’s not really labor costs, not anymore. It’s China’s hyper-efficient supply chain, its masses of skilled engineers, and its sheer scale of industrial intrastructure. Oh, and perhaps the little fact that American workers “won’t be treated like zoo animals.” (The first-linked story is about Apple, but applies to most all consumer-electronics firms.)
  • Attention, Coast to Coast A.M. listeners and techno-libertarians: Folks like me aren’t down on Ron Paul because we’re scared of his awesome disruptive super-goodness. We’re down on him because we despise his “small government” hypocrisy—the freedom to discriminate, the freedom to pollute, the freedom to pay slave wages, but no reproductive rights, no gay marriage, and no legal protections for “the little guy.” That, and the racist newsletters and his lame cop-out excuses for them.
  • Two great tastes that absolutely don’t taste great together—Mickey Mouse and Joy Division. (Really.)
Jan 17th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


As an entire region continues to impatiently await the promised, wondrous Snowtopia hinted at on Sunday but only teased about in the two days since, here’s some beautiful flakes of randomness for ya.

  • Knute Berger’s found some unused ideas for the 1962 World’s Fair, many of which were rightfully unused.
  • The state budget supercrisis is causing even the state ferry system to consider dropping whole routes. Buh bye, Bremerton. Was nice to know ya.
  • Eric Scigliano raises the battle cry: Save the Phone Book! (The white pages, at least.)
  • One proposal to (partly) stem the state’s fiscal megacrisis: A capital gains tax.
  • Another such proposal is to move all business-tax collection to Olympia, cutting cities and counties out of the action.
  • The city of Seattle wants to shut down outdoor homeless-feeding operations. Is this humaneness, or is it the “disappearing” of poverty?
  • Union-bustin’, vote-suppressin’, billionaire-coddling Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker is really, really unpopular.
  • Now that she’s sold her news-aggregation-site empire to AOL, is Arianna Huffington going to become a Republican again?
  • The fight against sweatshop-made sports merch spreads from colleges to pro teams, including the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Fond birthday wishes to perhaps the greatest living American.
  • If anyone here has ever had any doubts, the most recent race-to-the-bottom GOP debate shows it again: racist bigotry is neither clever nor cool. It’s just stupid.

And finally, I will have a new product announcement in this space tomorrow. It’s something all loyal MISCphiles will want to have for their very own.

Jan 11th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


  • Sad news in junk-food land. The makers of Hostess cakes and Wonder Bread, once known as Continental Baking but now the privately held Hostess Brands, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A needed step for survival, or a ploy to get out of pension obligations? No matter what happens, I will always remember my early fondness for Hostess Sno Balls. Even at a tender age, two white hemispheres meant something to me somehow….
  • Let’s welcome the newest member to the Northwest online news family, Olympia Newsriver. Its mission: to track the legislative progress (or lack thereof) on “key bills supported and opposed by Washington’s progressive movement.”
  • Microsoft received a patent for a smartphone-based GPS system, aimed at pedestrians instead of drivers. Part of the patent application stated the software would help walkers avoid “unsafe neighborhoods.” Disguised racism, say some detractors.
  • Occupy Seattle is not only without a campsite, it may also be breaking apart. One contributing factor: ideological radicals within the movement won’t commit to strictly nonviolent actions.
  • Ex-Seattle mayor Greg Nickels says he might run for Wash. secretary of state.
  • Seattle’s second anarchist squat house in the past year has been forcibly evicted.
  • Not only is Wash. state failing its commitment to fund public schools, it’s not even trying to fund previously passed reform plans for the schools (class size reduction, etc.).
  • Amazon news item #1: “Celebrity librarian” Nancy Pearl is teaming up with the e-tail giant to reissue worthy out-of-print books.
  • Amazon news item #2: One or more individuals in South Lake Union have put up street posters calling out a noisy minority of the company’s workforce there, calling them inconsiderate “Am Holes.” Trust me: a certain percentage of socially deaf dorks can be found at any tech company. During the early dot-com days of the mid 1990s, such dorks seemed to be everywhere.
  • Get set for more rich/poor class conflict in the coming year, just as the Republicans and many Democrats place themselves firmly on the “rich” side.
  • The Gannett Co.’s local newspapers may start charging for web access soon, according to buzz within the biz. The subscription fee would kick in beyond a certain small number of pages accessed per month, the way the NY Times does it. Of course, the NYT is a big, substantial product with global reach. Could the Salem, OR Statesman-Journal (the Northwest’s last Gannett-owned daily) similarly command a price for its online presence? (No word yet on whether Gannett’s flagship USA Today will also go behind a paywall.)
  • The self styled “Father of the Internet” claims online access is not per se a human right, but rather “an enabler of rights.”
  • Workers at a Foxconn electronics assembly plant in China threatened mass suicide, standing on the factory roof for two days until they were coaxed down. It follows 14 suicides (plus four unsuccessful attempts) at the company’s plants in 2010. They died, and countless other workers have cracked or burned out, so western companies can get the absolute cheapest price for product.
Jan 7th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

A few days late but always a welcome sight, it’s the yummy return of the annual MISCmedia In/Out List.

As always, this listing denotes what will become hot or not-so-hot during the next year, not necessarily what’s hot or not-so-hot now. If you believe everything big now will just keep getting bigger, I can score you a cheap subscription to News of the World.

Reclaiming Occupying
Leaving Afghanistan Invading Iran
Chrome OS Windows 8
The Young Turks Piers Morgan Tonight
Ice cream Pie
Bringing back the P-I (or something like it) Bringing back the Sonics (this year)
Community Work It
Obama landslide “Conservatalk” TV/radio (at last)
Microdistilleries Store-brand liquor
Fiat Lexus
World’s Fair 50th anniversary Beatles 50th anniversary
TED.com FunnyOrDie.com
Detroit Brooklyn
State income tax (at last) All-cuts budgets
Civilian space flight Drones
Tubas Auto-Tune (still)
Home fetish dungeons “Man caves”
Tinto Brass Mario Bava
Greek style yogurt Smoothies
Card games Kardashians
Anoraks “Shorts suits”
Electric Crimson Tangerine Tango
Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist) Guy Ritchie
Stories about the minority struggle Stories about noble white people on the sidelines of the minority struggle
(actual) Revolutions The Revolution (ABC self-help talk show)
Kristen Wiig Kristen Stewart
“Well and truly got” “Pwned”
Glow-in-the-dark bicycles (seen in a BlackBerry ad) BlackBerry
Color print-on-demand books Printing in China
Ye-ye revival Folk revival
Interdependence Individualism
Hedgehogs Hedge funds
Erotic e-books Gonzo porn
Michael Fassbender Seth Rogan
Sofia Vergara Megan Fox
3D printing 3D movies (still)
Sex “Platonic sex”
Love “Success”
“What the what?” “Put a bird on it”
Jan 4th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


  • John Hilgart has a whole web-gallery site of old-time comic book art, in the form of enlarged details from individual panels. And he’s got an aesthetic essay praising the medium as it had been in the pre-“graphic novel” days. Hilgart’s specifically talking about the comics’ crude, now obsolete, four-color printing process. His essay’s title: “In Defense of Dots.”
  • Paul Constant offers up a long, devastatingly funny essay on the Iowa Caucuses, without once mentioning Dan Savage’s successful re-definition of “santorum.”
  • Chauncy DeVega’s take on the caucuses: The GOP has now fully coalesced around a platform of “‘common sense’ racism.”
  • You might not have heard lately from “Walden Three,” Greg Lundgren’s scheme to put a multimedia arts center into the old Lusty Lady building, and to privately fund it all under the auspices of a documentary film shoot. Lundgren’s still at it.
  • In the fixed game of job blackmail, Seattle’s gain is often some other burg’s loss. That’s what happened when Russell Investments moved north from Tacoma. Now it’s happening again with the demise of Boeing Wichita.
  • Blogger “Rottin’ In Denmark” has posted a love letter to Seattle, entitled “My Hometown Is Better Than Yours.” Much more than a mere series of tourist photos, it’s a series of municipal one-upsmanship boasts captioning each still:

Seattle invented bricks and mortar in the 5th century BC. Then in the 20th century AD, it invented Amazon.com and made them obsolete.

The sun is literally always shining. Those clouds were artificially pumped in because there were out-of-towners visiting and we didn’t want them to stay.

(beneath a shot of an Olympic Sculpture Park installation) This is a totem we erected to protect us from Courtney Love.

Jan 1st, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

Local news items, and my one-take comments on them, should return in greater quantity starting Wednesday. Meanwhile, some more stuff from here and from the larger online world:

  • Eric Scigliano says Seattle can’t inspire a comedy like Portlandia or the old Almost Live! because we’re no longer lovable “underdogs.” I say bah. If that were the case, there would be no great comics from New York. (Of course, a lot of New York comedy is about individual lovable underdogs trying to survive life in New York.)
  • David Goldstein gently chides SeattlePI.com’s most famous remaining employee, political commentator Joel Connelly, for suggesting that (1) Seattle liberals should be more kind and appreciative toward moderate Republicans, and that (2) moderate Republicans still exist.
  • Here’s one person who defends Village Voice Media’s sex-ad site who doesn’t work for Village Voice Media. She’s Jill Brenneman, a self described sex-workers’ advocate.
  • A blogger about “natural health and freedom” sees ordinary folks becoming more violent in ways that remind him of corporate/governmental/military brutality. He calls it “trickle down tyranny.”
  • A writer of space-opera novels pens a “private letter from genre to literature,” in which he says highbrow-lit fans should learn to appreciate the world of the bestsellers.
  • Glenn Greenwald believes that despite his racist legacy, Ron Paul still offers up some ideas progressives should listen to. As for me, a white supremacist who wants to legalize pot is still a white supremacist.
  • Mental Floss offers a list of nostalgic sounds of yesteryear—the sounds of rotary phones, manual typewriters, and TV channel selectors.
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