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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.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/16/13
May 15th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Maureen Johnson asks for an end to stereotypical “For Women” book covers. Huff Post readers have added Photoshopped gender-bender cover versions for famous novels.
  • Is Wash. state really the least-cussing, cleanest-speaking place in the nation? And who the stinkin’ heck cares?
  • Cheers to the 400-ish people who showed up and spoke out in favor of preserving transit in King County. For some reason I thought we should have been past this need by now.
  • Rebecca Mead at the New Yorker wrote a bizarre essay sorta based on Amanda Knox’s memoir. Matt Briggs gives it a cut-up pastiche alteration, only slightly less comprehensible than the original. (As for me, my news diet is still like the old Gulf gasoline brand—No-Nox.)
  • The leading producer of Cinemax’s “skinemax” softcore shows was denied a mortgage on “moral reasons.” By one of the top housing-bubble and foreclosure-mania perpetrators. Yeah, like they know anything about morals.…
  • As the female/male ratio in China continues to decline, Chinese women factory workers are gaining more workplace clout.
  • In the grand tradition of the fake postmodernist essay generator, there are now “SEO text generators” that automatically create awful self-help and how-to Web pages, crafted to appear high on Google’s search results. Only the perpetrators of these textbots are completely serious about it. Which makes their output even funnier.
  • Item: Paul Allen just sold a 1953 abstract painting by Barnett Newman for $43.8 million. Comment: Did the buyers think they were getting the original negative to the film The Thin Blue Line?

wikipedia via king5.com

ARE THE SONICS BACK YET? (DAY 127)
May 15th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

No.

And that’s an official, final no, for the next year at least.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/14/13
May 14th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

factmag.com

  • Somebody thought it would be cool to try to laser-etch a phonograph record onto wood. The result sounds a bit like the early, dial-up-connection versions of RealAudio.
  • Item: Indoor pot growing uses lotsa electricity. Comment: You mean stoners aren’t the purest-O-the-pure eco-saints? Next thing, you’ll be saying electric cars and wood stoves aren’t pure-green either.
  • Oh, Those Kids Today! #1: Monica Guzman insists today’s under-30 folks aren’t entitlement-obsessed narcissists, but rather are “people waking up to their own power and not being willing to compromise it.”
  • Oh, Those Kids Today! #2: Young adults are even driving less than prior generations. How un-American can ya get?
  • The Legislature’s special session could see a Dem-controlled State Senate again. Maybe.
  • Seattle teachers who refused to administer standardized tests have achieved a partial victory.
  • Just last week, we bemoaned the idiotic prose and strained “corporate hip” attitude of KOMO’s “young skewing” local website Seattle Pulp. Now the whole site’s dead, without even leaving its old posts alive.
  • Are the Sonics Back Yet? (Day 126): No. But we should have the final, final answer (for this year at least) on Wednesday. Don’t get your hopes back up. But hold on to the love.
  • Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Plunder thought it would just be keen n’ dandy to play tracks by Sonics-purist and Seattle’s-honor-defender Macklemore in their arena. Nope, no way, uh-uh, no siree bub.
  • Might Microsoft buy Barnes & Noble’s Nook ebook hardware operation just to kill it?
  • Amazon’s fledgling in-house book publishing operations might expand to include “literary fiction,” whatever the heck that means anymore.
  • Disappeared local institution we neglected to mention earlier: the Green Lake Baskin-Robbins.
  • Weird crime story of the week: “Woman who killed ex with insecticide-laced Jågermeister pleads guilty.”
  • It’s illegal but it happens anyway: denying employment to people for the sin of being in debt due to being unemployed.
  • Katy Evans at the Tacoma group blog Post Defiance notes how indie live music has become a more complicated, bureaucratic, and problematic biz, especially in towns like hers in the shadow of bigger towns.
  • Seattle Times Shrinkage Watch: The paper’s own reporters have to pay for website subscriptions to their own work. Except they can “opt out” of it if they insist.
  • You remember how the New Orleans Times-Picayune went to only three print issues a week? No more. They’re now putting out newsstand-only editions on the four non-home-delivery days, just like the Detroit papers are.
  • Talking into computers and expecting them to understand you has always been, and apparently will continue to be, little more than a screenwriters’ conceit.
  • Anthony Galluzzo at Salon wants you to stop the hipster-bashing already. He says it’s old, tired, and becoming classist.
  • Jim Tews, who describes himself as “a decent white male comic,” insists that most white guys performing standup are not sexist boors.
  • No, Rolling Stone readers, Nirvana is not the fifth worst band of the ’90s. That would actually be Sugar Ray.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/6/13
Mar 6th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

scarfolk.blogspot.co.uk

  • Some clever Brits have devised “Scarfolk,” a blog of made-up historical artifacts from a fictional (and dreary as hell) English town. Along the way, they have a lot of fun with ’60s-’70s UK graphic design.
  • An “alternative taxidermy” artist from Tacoma will appear on a reality-TV show on Thursday evening.
  • Also on Thursday, a Belltown boudoir-photography studio’s holding a “donate a bra” night to help clothe the needy.
  • The next big Seattle Schools scandal: alleged racial double standards in student discipline.
  • The secret ingredient of Seattle hiphop just might be Pho.
  • Local stoners might want to drag out their right-wing grandparents’ “Get US Out of the UN” signs.
  • Another year, another threat of no Fourth of July fireworks unless big donations pour in.
  • Perhaps 60 Everett Herald print/distro workers will lose their jobs as Sound Publishing (which already has its own Everett printing plant) takes over the paper.
  • The Atlantic, supposedly one of the “success stories” of legacy print media in the Internet age, is not above asking writers to work for free.
  • Staged readings from Lolita are in hot water in Russia, thanks to the Putin regime’s calculated drive to demonize liberals and Westerners “for the benefit of a poorer, older, more rural voter base.” Hmm, that sounds familiar….
  • It’s a “golden age for corporate profits.” Just not for the rest of us.
  • Get ready for North Pole ship crossings, thanks to that climate change that billionaires pay Republicans to claim doesn’t exist.
  • Australia’s “multiethnic” TV channel goes to the lands surrounding the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and finds tales of horror and survival.
  • Peggy Orenstein notes that the “Disney Princess” characters, and their counterparts in other fictional universes, aren’t really about waiting for a prince as they are about vanity and shopping:

No, today’s princess is not about romance: it’s more about entitlement. I call it “girlz power” because when you see that “z” (as in Bratz, Moxie Girlz, Ty Girlz, Disney Girlz) you know you’ve got trouble. Girlz power sells self-absorption as the equivalent of self confidence and tells girls that female empowerment, identity, independence should be expressed through narcissism and commercialism.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 2/25/13
Feb 25th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

via messynesychic.com

  • “Quite possibly the most important street photographer of the 20th century was a 1950s children’s nanny who kept herself to herself and never showed a single one of her photographs to anyone.”
  • Jay Jacobs, 1912-2013: Yes, there really was a Jay Jacobs behind the local teen clothing chain of the same name, which operated from 1941 to 1999. At its peak, his company had more than 300 outlets around the country, mostly in malls. But, like Lamonts and the Squire Shops and Bernie’s/Bottom’s, Jacobs’ chain couldn’t make it in the age of the Big Box store (which, in turn, is being succeeded by the age of e-tail).
  • Another local institution, Mae’s Phinney Ridge Cafe, is for sale, and will close if a buyer isn’t found soon.
  • A UW English prof decries grad-student applicants who can’t name-drop a single modern female author.
  • Joan Walsh (correctly, I believe) blames the attempted “sick humor” at the Oscars not on host Seth McFarlane but on the Academy bosses, who apparently wanted to latch onto that Farrelley Bros./American Pie “edgy” thang.
  • The William Shatner bit at that show’s top was a textbook example of “framing” a piece of sick/sexist humor (the “We Saw Your Boobs” song) via fake distanced “irony,” to make it seem like just a “parody” of sick/sexist humor.
  • The “In Memoriam” Oscars segment has its own selection committee, and “is a focus of campaigning.” That’s one reason why a few famous actors get left out every year and a few obscure behind-the-scenes figures always get put in.
  • Elisabeth Parker at Addicting Info wants progressives to stop using right-wing catch phrases.
  • For fans of old time radio (and of latter-day revivals of same), here’s a site that appears to have .mp3s of every CBS Radio Mystery Theater episode (all 1,339 of ’em)!
OF KRAFFT, AND OTHER CHEESE MERCHANTS
Feb 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

photo by kyle johnson, from the set 'portraits of seattle' on flickr

It’s been more than a week since Jen Graves’ Stranger story, “Charles Krafft Is a White Nationalist Who Believes the Holocaust Is a Deliberately Exaggerated Myth.”

The paper’s print issue is now off of the stands.

The controversy continues.

Like many participants in and observers of the Seattle visual-art scene, I’ve long known about Krafft’s open admiration for neo-Nazis and Holocaust revisionist pseudo-scholars. He didn’t keep his views secret. They just hadn’t been written about in the local arts media, prior to Graves’ article.

While Krafft was out of the country when the article was written, Graves was careful not to allege anything about Krafft’s beliefs that he hadn’t specifically mentioned in national blogs, podcasts, talk-radio shows, newsletters, and his own Facebook posts.

Still, the counter-allegations of “hatchet job” etc. against Graves abound.

In the online comment thread for the original article.

In a spirited defense of Krafft (“despite his occasional idiocy”) by his friend (and my sometime book publisher) Adam Parfrey.

And in an essay by white-nationalist book publisher Greg Johnson, “The Persecution of Charles Krafft.”

Some of the counter-attacks are predictable.

There are people who sincerely defend white nationalism and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.

Then there are people who assert that Graves, the Stranger, and the Seattle cultural establishment in general are a bunch of PC do-gooders who can’t handle any real dissent from their party line.

Ah, the last rhetorical refuge of the bigot and the bully; to turn around and whine that they’re really the victims.

By the way, that last remark of mine is directed toward Johnson and some of the other commenters—not against Krafft himself. Krafft has always been open and forthright about his extreme beliefs, and about his fondness for guys who express even further-extreme beliefs than he does. He hasn’t, as far as I know, ever played the faux “victim” card.

So how do I feel about Krafft, you might (or might not) be asking?

I believe he’s a sincere admirer of various military and paramilitary aesthetics, including those of the Nazi and Warsaw Pact eras.

I believe he’s got a big flaming ego, that enjoys tripping on the “Oh, aren’t I being a naughty, politically-incorrect cad?” vibe.

And I believe “irony,” at least the kind of irony viewers have long perceived was in Krafft’s ceramic rifles and hand grenades and Nazi-kitsch revival pieces, is a tiresome premise.

Every work of “satire” or “parody” contains, in its aesthetic, the real worldview of its creator.

Andy Warhol, for instance, really was a capitalist. Quentin Tarantino really is an exploitation filmmaker.

And Charles Krafft really does get off on power fantasies.

Even really, really sick ones.

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

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

RANDOM LINKS FOR 2/19/13
Feb 19th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

gawker.com

WE’RE ALL FROM EARTH
Feb 13th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

webclipart.about.com

As the many unattached among us face with dread the day devoted, by Hallmark and other marketers, toward luvvey-duvvey cutesy-poo, comes a new study on “the old man-woman thing.”

Authors Bobbi J. Carothers and Harry T. Reis claim, among other things, that:

  • Instead of a clear demarcation of “female” and “male” behaviors and thoughts, there’s more of a continuum among individuals.
  • Gender itself is less a factor in psychological differences among people than race, nationality, subculture, etc.

Imagine the possible implications!

  • Those men and women who classify the entire opposite sex as the Evil Other-with-a-capital-O are just wrong!
  • Attempts to “pink-ify” consumer products, in order to market them as “For Women,” are really just as stupid as they already seem.
  • Dating and “speed seduction” courses intended to reveal the mysteries of the opposite-sex brain are big wastes of money. (Which some of you already know.)
  • There’s even less of an excuse for movie studios not to create more “active” roles for female characters, or for the rest of corporate America to pay women less.
  • And instead of fighting and manipulating and jostling for power as “man” and “woman,” we’re really fighting and manipulating and jostling for power as “people.”
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