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RANDOM LINKS FOR 2-2-14
Feb 2nd, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Since most of my most loyal readers will have other things to do on Sunday afternoon, here’s some relatively timeless randomosity for whenever you log back in:

  • Kentucky’s GOP Senators forced Wash. state utilities to buy nuclear power components they don’t really need.
  • Amazon has exercised its option to buy the Belltown block where the Hurricane Cafe has been for 20 years (and the legendary Dog House had been for more than three decades before that).
  • Meanwhile, the Washington State Convention Center is buying the Honda of Seattle block.
  • As we approach five years since the last printed Post-Intelligencer (still missed), we must say goodbye to one of its ol’ mainstays, reporter John Engstrom.
  • If anybody knows what’s still stalling the waterfront tunnel machine, nobody’s telling.
  • There was a “Progressive Radio Summit” in Seattle, in which the keynote speaker claimed “the only sustainable model for broadcasters today is subscription based programming.”
  • The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center is still financially desperate.
  • White privilege: it exists, whether it’s visible to you or not.
  • Yes, Macklemore hired an established distribution company (the same one Sub Pop and others use) to get his CD into retail stores. That still qualifies as “not having a record label,” no matter what NPR says.
  • Steve Wilhelm at the Puget Sound Business Journal warns that Boeing’s strong arm tactics against the Machinists Union may cost the company more than it gains.
  • As Paramount becomes the first Hollywood studio to cease distributing movies on film reels to theaters, indie filmmakers take to the proverbial the Star-Off Machine and “reach for 16mm.” Meanwhile, there’s a campaign to “Save Film,” as a medium for both movie production and exhibition.
  • It’s always trouble when typographers attack one another.
I HATE CALIFORNIA. IT’S COLD AND IT’S DAMP.
Jan 17th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

'i hate the 49ers' on facebook

(Note: This post’s title is a gag based on a song lyric. Californians never get the joke.)

Twice a year, I get to express out loud an opinion that usually attracts scorn and correctiveness from even my closest friends.

And this week, I get to really say it.

The excuse: The Seahawks’ upcoming battle in the National Football League’s playoff semifinals, against the arch rival 49ers.

The opinion: San Francisco is a land of pompous, arrogant snobs who falsely believe themselves to be the Supreme Species of the Universe.

Especially San Francisco’s “alternative” and “radical” scenes.

That’s a socially forbidden opinion there—and even, often, here.

All my life, I’ve heard people here insisting that Seattle was a “hick town” that needed to become “world class” by religiously copying everything in, from, and about San Francisco. Its restaurants and bars. Its bands. Its fashions. Its municipal political structure. Its architecture. Its media institutions. Its stores. Its strip clubs. Even its street crime.

To these “local boosters,” anything Seattleites created on their own was intrinsically inferior to anything swiped from or “inspired by” cultural dictates from down south. (This attitude was particularly strong during the ’70s and ’80s, when Seattle’s civic establishment was almost completely run by upscale baby boomers.)

Over the years, there’s also been a steady stream of promoters and hucksters from there moving up here, opening “authentic San Francisco style” hoity-toity clubs or boutiques, long on attitude and short on anything really interesting. When these enterprises failed, as they usually did, said hucksters bemoaned us Seattle hicks for failing to appreciate their genius.

To a true San Franciscan, there is only San Francisco, and maybe New York, and just-maybe-maybe Los Angeles. The rest of America is all Bumfuck, Iowa.

“But,” people invariably say, “what about all the bohemian rebels and counterculturists and Establishment-challengers from there?”

They can be even more annoyingly snooty than your basic San Franciscan annoying snoot.

And it’s an American tragedy, the way they’ve helped left-wing politics to get ensnarled with the most anti-populist, square-bashing sentiments, in which one is supposed to love “the people” and hate “the sap masses” at the same time. (I’m talking to you, Mr. Tom Tomorrow and Mr. Jello Biafra.)

I happen to believe progressive/revolutionary politics should be for everybody.

Even meat eaters. Even TV viewers. Even people who don’t drink lattes or listen to public radio.

Otherwise it’s just a worthless pose.

There’s now a book out by one Fred Turner, called From Counterculture to Cyberculture. It traces the twisted path of San Franciscan “liberation” ideology/hype, from the “flower power” wild-oats sowers, through the Whole Earth Catalog gang, to the early microcomputer startups, to Wired magazine’s founders, to the hyper-alpha guys (and too few gals) running today’s dot-com giants.

Turner traces how a particular strain of NoCal “personal freedom” beliefs mutated and metastasized into corporate-Libertarian selfishness.

The Harvard Business Review story about the book carries the telling title, “How Silicon Valley Became the Man.”

Right now in Frisco (an informal, anti-elitist abbreviation I always insist upon using), there’s a loud backlash against dot-com one-percenters taking over the whole city, forcing artists and musicians (and, oh yeah, non-white folks) out, and making annoyances of themselves with their big spending and boorish behavior.

Protesters and pundits forthrightly proclaim that this all runs counter to “The City” and its heritage of rugged individualists, rule breakers, and wild boys.

No. It’s a monster bastard child of that heritage, taken to a parasitical extreme.

So no, Danny Westneat and Knute Berger: I don’t share any “sense of inferiority to San Francisco.”

I treat it as an example of what Seattle should not become.

FORMERLY THE SEATTLE TIMES ‘NW HOMES’ SECTION
Nov 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/27/13
Oct 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • It’s easy to really admire Jim Vallandingham’s project “Mapping Seattle Streets.” It’s harder to describe it. I’ll just say he’s using street grids and other map details to explain the city to itself.
  • You know I love the Clark Bar, and am eternally grateful to the NECCO people for saving the historic candy brand. So yes, I’m amused by the brand’s current ad campaign, in which women of various ethnicities say inexplicable things in foreign languages followed by a brief product plug in English.
  • Jonathan Franzen has become, alas, the very model of a modern get-off-my-lawn crank. Fortunately, Mallory Ortberg at The Toast has a lovely antidote, “The Rage of Jonathan Franzen”:

He is angry because Salman Rushdie uses Twitter, and nowadays people can buy books on the Internet, and the Home Depot, and he had to go to Germany one time, and also some women exist who have not had sex with him.

  • I wish NYT contributor Tim Kreider’s “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!” was actually about organizing a crusade against dot-coms that expect artists and writers to work for them for free. Alas, all Kreider offers is a prepared statement you can use when you reject their “opportunities.”
  • Is long-term unemployment a “good” thing? Perhaps to Wall St. speculators.
  • The “Lofgren Corollary.” It’s a fancy term to describe how Republicans destroy government from inside, then proclaim how government isn’t working.
  • Lou Scheimer, 1929-2013: The cofounder of the Filmation cartoon studio broke through to the bigtime with a Saturday morning Superman cartoon show in the ’60s. It led to dozens of series over the next two decades. All but a few were based on established character “properties,” and almost all were considered to be factory-produced schlock. But they were all made in the U.S. by unionized staffs, with no outsourced animation. Thus, a disproportionate number of today’s top animation figures got their start under Scheimer.
  • My favorite “intellectual joke”: Rene Descartes goes into a bar, orders a drink, and drinks it. The bartender asks if he’ll have another. He says, “I think not,” and disappears.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/22/13
Oct 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

I mourn the Comet Tavern for what it had been. The un-upscaled hippie hangout; the dive that remained a dive when most of the other dives in town cleaned up their acts. I don’t mourn what it had become—a hangout ruled by an oft-violent aggro gang called Hate City. (A good friend, a petite female, was once roughed up by bouncers there, badly.) Could any new owners make it an inviting place again?

  • My ol’ pal Steven Shaviro uses a lot of highly obscure intellectual-left lingo in this essay about the futility of “transgressive” art/film/music in today’s world. I believe he’s saying you can’t be a “rebel punk” anymore, because the hyper-corporate society you’re rebelling against is “punker” (more offensive, aggressive, destructive) than you’ll ever be.
  • David Byrne has stopped pretending not to be white, long enough to notice one-percenter real estate speculation and Internet “disruption” (i.e., not paying content creators) as twin menaces to the arts and creativity.
  • Meanwhile, our ol’ pal Tom Frank claims pundits who talk about “the creative class” are really just talking about corporate players who like to imagine themselves as “creative.”
  • The e-book revolution has become a surprising boon to traditional big publishers. But it’s a hassle to libraries, which often have to pay more to provide e-books than physical books.
  • A husband-and-wife music duo in Arizona came to a sudden end. The wife died in a hospital; the husband then killed himself—after posting each death to the wife’s Facebook page under her name.
  • America’s biggest export to China was recycled plastic. But not anymore.
  • Gay men don’t have the right to grope women without consent either.
  • A British historian claims Jesus was a made-up character, invented by the Romans in an attempt to encourage conquered Jews to become more passive. Needless to say, there are many who disagree with this premise.
  • Is Cinemax really discontinuing its late-night softcore shows, unofficially nicknamed “Skinemax”? From the sound of this story, it’s more likely the cable channel’s just preferring to promote its primetime originals, in which sex takes a decided back seat to violence.
  • Andrew Fischer at GeneralForum.com has two lists (with a third promised) of “Really Annoying Facebook Friends We All Have.” Not included (yet): the one who posting vaguely-worded links to vaguely-headlined articles, attracting all vaguely-worded responses.
  • Elsewhere in snarkland, there’s a blog entry all about ridiculous traveler complaints:

We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.

THINGS NBC COULD HAVE RUN DURING THE SEAHAWKS WEATHER DELAY
Sep 15th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey
  • Golf (no, that was also weather-delayed today)
  • A repeat of Jimmy Fallon and Barack Obama “Slow Jamming the News”
  • Leno coming on and insisting he really is quitting this winter, honest, for real this time
  • The 1973 World Series
  • The best of Rachel Maddow’s “Cocktail Moments”
  • Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb’s wackiest Today show moments
  • CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo’s hottest NASDAQ daily recaps
  • A special sneak preview of the new season of Community
RANDOM LINKS FOR 8/4/13
Aug 4th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

daily mail

…(T)he madness of the GOP is the central issue of our time.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/23/13
Jul 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

city of seattle via slog.thestranger.com

  • You know that big palatial boulevard the politicians have promised to turn Seattle’s central waterfront into? It now looks like it could become something else. Like, a highway with as many lanes as the viaduct (or more!), only side by side and on ground level. (Via my ex-housemate Fnarf.)
  • The Feds want to crack down on The Art Institutes. They charge the chain of for-profit art schools (including a major Seattle branch) with…

…fraudulently collecting $11 billion in government aid by recruiting low-income students for the purpose of collecting student aid money. Whistleblowers claim that students graduate loaded with debt and without the means to pay off the loans, which are then paid for with taxpayer dollars.

  • UW scientists recorded, then time-compressed, the sounds made by an Alaska volcano just before it blew.
  • Congrats to the local makers of the Carter Family graphic bio-novel for winning (er, co-winning) a major industry award.
  • Nice to see Seattle Weekly regaining some of its old form, even if that includes its old cranky-baby-boomer bashing of the Stranger and youth culture.
  • As expected, the living members of Nirvana played at McCartney’s Safeco Field show.
  • Alas, it’s illegal to ride down Capitol Hill streets in an office chair.
  • MillerCoors wants the Feds to investigate the Wall St. bigshots’ manipulations of aluminum prices.
  • Do you know the difference between North and South Carolina? Nike didn’t.
  • Why can’t Third World people speak for themselves on the “global stage,” instead of questionable, self-appointed spokespeople such as (the highly corporate-connected) Bono?
  • R.I.P. Helen Thomas, first lady of the White House press corps and the textbook example of a “tough dame” who speaks her mind and never gives up.
  • While (or because) nobody was looking, Yahoo quietly shut down the pioneering search engine AltaVista.
  • Business Insider posted a promo spot for a Milwaukee TV newscast circa 1980. Frenetic stock music! Jump cuts! Reporters in the field! Huge “mini” cams held by muscular cameramen! Typewriters! That’s infotainment.
  • Do you or someone you know listen to too much Coast to Coast AM? Still? Then follow this handy conspiracy theory flow chart.

the reason stick at blogspot

ART OF THE STATES
Jul 1st, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

theatlantic.com

Derek Thompson at the Atlantic has assembled a U.S. map containing what he claims to be “the most famous brands born in each state.”

Only he doesn’t consistently play this game by his own rules.

Some of Thompson’s picks are obvious: Nike for Oregon, Coca-Cola for Georgia, Hasbro for Rhode Island, DuPont for Delaware, L.L. Bean for Maine, Budweiser for Missouri, Tabasco for Louisiana.

Other choices are debatable but defensible: Apple for California, Hawaiian Airlines for Hawaii, Starbucks for Washington state.

But in some cases, Thompson lists parent companies rather than “brands.” (GM is a bigger company, but Ford is a bigger product name.)

In others, he places brands where corporate takeovers have placed them, not where they began. (Does anyone really associate Saks department stores with Alabama?)

Here are my alternate choices:

  • California: Chevron or Disney.
  • Illinois: John Deere, Kraft, McDonald’s, Sears, or Playboy.
  • Kentucky: KFC or Jim Beam.
  • Minnesota: Target or Betty Crocker.
  • Nebraska: Union Pacific, ConAgra Foods, Mutual of Omaha, or Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet’s holding company).
  • Nevada: Caesar’s Palace.
  • New York: AT&T, CBS, Citibank, Colgate, IBM, Kodak, Macy’s, NBC, or Xerox.
  • North Carolina: Camel.
  • Ohio: Goodyear or Tide.
  • Texas: Texaco (still a well known, albeit mostly dormant, brand) or Dell.
  • Virginia: M&M’s.
  • Wisconsin: Miller.
  • Wyoming: JCPenney (long since moved away; currently HQ’d in Texas).

And for good ol’ Wash. state, arguments can be made for Amazon, Microsoft, and even Sub Pop, or such moved-away corporate HQs as Boeing and UPS.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 6/28/13
Jun 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

io9.com

MORE FRE-MONSTROUS THAN EVER
Jun 23rd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

This year’s Fremont Solstice Parade was bigger than ever. Both the real parade (see below) and the unofficial body-paint bicycle brigade preceding it.

What may have once been considered daring and rebellious, is now an ordinary, accepted thing; another smug celebration of how fabulous we believe ourselves to be. Thus is the Seattle Way.

You can also say with certainty that the event was popular, on a solitary hot sunny day bookmarked by drizzly days before and after it.

The parade proper was about one and a half times as long as it was just last year. The “political” paraders were out in force with such simple messages as “wind power good, Monsanto pesticides bad.”

A small utility manhole in the street was left uncovered. That’s how this CRT-headed advocate for electronics recycling crashed his trash.

Also on hand were the usual music and dance troupes, and the giant flora-n’-fauna kinetic scultpure thangs.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 6/16/13
Jun 15th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • The only thing more improbable than the idea that the average human 100,000 years from now will have Margaret Keane painting-size eyes is the idea that the average human 100,000 years from now will be white.
  • Novelist David Guterson gave a commencement speech at his alma mater,Roosevelt High. Some parents booed the speech, apparently believing it was too “negative” for their precious children. The speech itself turns out to be skeptical about the pursuit-O’-happiness thang but still relatively upbeat at its conclusion.
  • So soon after getting our collective hearts broken over the NBA (again), Seattle sports fans have a new thing about which to blindly hope against hope. It’s the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes. They’ve been floundering down in the desert. The league supposedly has a plan to move the team here, perhaps as early as next season.
  • KING-TV and its sister operations (KONG, NW Cable News) are being bought out by Gannett, along with the rest of the A.H. Belo Corp. Like Belo (which began as the publisher of the Dallas Morning News) had done when it bought KING, Gannett’s strategy here is to add profitable (for now) broadcast properties to help shore up its more troubled newsprint assets. (Update: Gannett only bought Belo’s broadcast properties, not its newspapers.)
  • Tacoma really doesn’t like citizens painting “rogue crosswalks.”
  • CBS News’s smartypants explain “why geniuses don’t have jobs.”
  • Time quotes some security-establishment defenders who really, really want to see the whole anti-domestic-surveillance crusade crushed.
  • An Australian ad agency asked feminist writers to write about the meaning of artificial sweeteners in women’s lives, and to do it for free. Here come the brutally snarky retorts.
  • This list of words remembered today only as parts of hoary catch phrases leaves out such personal favorites of mine as “petard,” “Gangbusters” (originally a radio show), and “poke” (as something you shouldn’t buy a pig in).
  • You remember how Facebook first started as a “hot or not” listing of Harvard women? There’s a new “hot or not” application on the site. It’s just for women. It uses male FB users’ profiles without their permission.
  • It’s the 50th birthday of one of my favorite forgotten childhood icons: Mr. ZIP!

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/29/13
May 29th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

via theatlantic.com

  • The Atlantic has unearthed a 1999 Microsoft ad, touting the e-book future that was supposed to be jump started by the soon-to-be-released Microsoft Reader software package. It’s taken a bit longer than that for events in this “Future of Reading” timeline to come about. But one thing has happened already: the luddites who’ve long dominated the book community are loudly touting the benefits of “Real Books From Real Trees for Real People.”
  • Once again, I insist that Windows 8 is not the cause of the PC sales slump. Rather, it’s the fact that everybody’s agog about phones and tablets instead. And the fact that so much PC functionality these days is based on online and “cloud”-based activity, so home users feel no need to buy new hardware.
  • Traffic on Wash. state roadways is at a 10-year low. Yet Republicans keep pushing a cars-only transportation budget.
  • Meanwhile, Knute Berger remembers the people who fought the R.H. Thompson Expressway, a freeway which would have eradicated the Central Area and ruined the Arboretum.
  • David Schoenfeld at ESPN.com says it’s time to sacrifice M’s manager Eric Wedge.
  • There’s a public school tucked away in Seattle’s residential north end. In recent years, the Indian Heritage School program was housed there. More recently, the school district’s talked about replacing the buildings on the site. That would mean destroying murals depicting local indigenous heroes. Activists have fought to keep the murals. They may succeed.
  • A cold-calling “charity” campaign, which recently phone-bombed Seattle households, may be a pure scam with little or no proceeds going to its stated cause.
  • Collector speculation pricing in music has affected the price of new vinyl editions.
  • Mothers Now Top Breadwinners in 4 of 10 U.S. Homes.”
  • Today in what you never hear about in the right-wing media, the Bush-era IRS gleefully persecuted liberal groups.
  • The Russian-owned news/opinion channel RT has hired Larry King.
  • Facebook vows to crack down on user-posted rape “jokes.”
  • Philip G. Ryken at the Gospel Coalition site has a snarky list of “How to Discourage Artists in the Church.” Some of its bullet points also apply to discouraging creative work in the larger world, such as “Treat the arts as a window dressing for the truth rather than a window into reality.”
  • PolitiFact rates at least half the things Republicans say as “false,” and employs exaggeration tricks to find at least some Democrats lying.
  • Tired of folks my age griping about how things used to be? Make up your own “meme” slogan for the face of “Old Economy Steven”!

quickmeme.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/28/13
May 28th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

kuow

  • KUOW has a handy guide to Seattle’s “public spaces that appear private.”
  • There’s a downside to making big popular parks out of former U.S. Navy installations. Magnuson Park turns out to have lots of radioactive, contaminated soil.
  • Wash. state ranks #49 in supporting public colleges and universities. This is not like being a Mariner fan, where being even ahead of one other team is a call to point with pride.
  • Some website I’d never heard of before says Seattle’s “most photographed attraction” is the Elephant Car Wash sign. (Gee, even more than the toothache-man gargoyle?)
  • The Illinois company calling itself Boeing used to have big battery design skills in-house. Then outsourcing mania took over. Result: the 787 disasters.
  • You know how I disdain the marketing company calling itself Pabst Brewing, due to its role in closing the Rainier and Olympia breweries while keeping their brands alive in zombie form. Cracked.com also hates Pabst, but for a different reason: for virtually inventing that commonly despised character type known as the “hipster.”
  • South Carolina Republicans, faced with popular legislation promoting renewable energy sources, rigged a faked “voice vote” to defeat the measure.
  • Daily Kos diarist “markthshark” claims the real IRS scandal is how all those blatantly partisan Tea Party groups got to file as nonpolitical nonprofits in the first place.
  • Are angst and misery really due to a single “great glitch” built into human nature?
  • Paul Krugman sez, “being a good liberal doesn’t require that you believe, or pretend to believe, lots of things that almost certainly aren’t true; being a good conservative does.”
  • The police backlash against protesting garment workers in Cambodia wasn’t at a “Nike factory,” which the hereby-linked headline claims. It was at a locally owned company taking outsourcing work from several Western clothing firms, all of whom can thus take “plausible deniability” about conditions and worker abuse.
  • Some of the outdoor sets from the original Star Wars are still standing, and decaying, in Tunisia.

lostateminor.com

‘BEZOS’S BALLS’ (YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST)
May 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

via geekwire

Amazon wants to build a triple-globe shaped, five story thing, variously called a “biodome” and a “greenhouse,” as part of its three-block skyscraper project. It would be on Lenora Street east of Sixth Avenue.

First comment:

Any architectural thang with three segments, in which the two smaller segments are spherical, is bound to lead to a lifetime of snickering jokes.

Arrangements of one or more spherical objects at the bottom of a 50-story tower will engender the same responses.

Amazon’s either being brave, or clueless, or devil-may-care bombastic, or some combo of the above.

Second, slightly more serious, comment:

As gargantuan New Seattle monuments to world-class-osity go (and I wish a couple of them would go), this one looks at least somewhat friendlier than the planned central waterfront makeover, kitschier (in a good way) than the Sculpture Park, and not nearly as brutalistic as Chihuly Garden & Glass.

Depending on how it works out, and how tolerant its staff is toward civilian activity within, it could be a welcome addition to the cityscape. Or at least a place in which to hide out from the rain for a bit.

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