Archive for ‘Money’

July 17, 2012

Zef

Zef is a South African counter-culture movement. Die Antwoord (Afrikaans: ‘The Answer’) is a South African rap-rave group whose style draws from the movement. The word ‘zef’ stems from an Afrikaans word, which roughly translates to the English word ‘common.’ South African rapper and Die Antwoord collaborator Jack Parow, describes the movement as ‘It’s kind of like posh, but the opposite of posh.’ It differs from the Australian term ‘bogan’ (pejorative f0r those from a low-class background) and the related British term ‘chav’ in that it is mostly a positive term used to describe oneself, rather than a derogatory term for someone else. It is also not typical of the poorest classes of the society, but rather a mostly white, lower-middle class subculture, albeit one that glorifies cheap stuff. Yolandi Visser of Die Antwoord is quoted as saying, ‘It’s associated with people who soup their cars up and rock gold and shit. Zef is, you’re poor but you’re fancy. You’re poor but you’re sexy, you’ve got style.’

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July 16, 2012

Slow Movement

in praise of slow

The Slow Movement advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace. It began with Carlo Petrini’s protest against the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome in 1986 that sparked the creation of the Slow Food organization. Over time, this developed into a subculture in other areas, such as Cittaslow (Slow Cities), Slow living, Slow Travel, and Slow Design. Geir Berthelsen and his creation of The World Institute of Slowness presented a vision in 1999 for an entire ‘Slow Planet.’

Norwegian philosopher Guttorm Fløistad summarizes the philosophy, stating: ‘The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.’

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July 16, 2012

Concerted Cultivation

Concerted cultivation is a style of parenting that is marked by a parent’s attempts to foster their child’s talents by incorporating organized activities in their children’s lives. This parenting style is commonly exhibited in middle and upper class American families, and is also characterized by consciously developing language use and ability to interact with social institutions. Many have attributed cultural benefits to this form of child-rearing due to the style’s use in higher income families, conversely affecting the social habitus (socially learned dispositions) of children raised in such a manner. A child that has been concertedly cultivated will often express greater social prowess in social situations involving formality or structure attributed to their increased experience and engagement in organized clubs, sports, musical groups, as well as increased experience with adults and power structure. While this pattern of child rearing holds no innate positive qualities, it has been linked to an increase in financial and academic success. Negative considerations have included an overburdened sense of entitlement, potentially disrespectful behavior toward authority figures, lack of creativity, and the psychosomatic inability to play or relax. As a result, advocates of ‘Slow parenting’ prefer less management of childhood activities. None of these effects can be considered without broader cultural and economic considerations.

Concerted cultivation also emphasizes the use of reasoning skills and variations in language use. Parents start to encourage their children to learn how to speak with adults so that they become comfortable and understand the importance of eye contact and speaking properly at an earlier age. According to Sociologist Annette Lareau, with these type of experiences, middle class parents try to pursue the concerted cultivation approach. They also try to promote a sense of entitlement in their children.  Concerted cultivation causes a transmission of differential advantages, meaning they end up having a financial and educational advantage in life over children reared based on other methods. Children who are reared using the concerted cultivation method are set apart in academic environments, such as college campuses, and they also learn to have more confidence when confronted with social interactions. Children start to form a certain sense of entitlement because of their early comfort interacting with adults. Children also become more comfortable questioning adults, and it is easier for them to see themselves as equals.

July 16, 2012

The Price of Privilege

The Price of Privilege is a non-fiction book by psychologist Madeline Levine. The book’s primary thesis is that teenagers from affluent families have more intense psychological problems than expected. Levine maintains that children from rich families with psychological dysfunctions have been ignored because many people assume the wealthy have the resources to take care of themselves. Her findings are based on her experience as a psychologist working with children in Marin County and related clinical studies. She defines affluence as a yearly household income in the $120,000 to $160,000 range.

Over the course of her practice, the author observed many teenage patients, from affluent households, with excellent grades in school, extracurricular involvement, and an appearance of thriving in their environment. According to Levine, many of these teens suffered debilitating neuroses, such as anxiety, depression, drug addiction, anorexia, and self harm. She noted two key indicators of this dysfunction: achievement pressure and emotional isolation from parents. In affluent communities, according to Levine, external accomplishments such as prestige, power, and money for adults, or grades, clothes, and electronics for kids, become more important than happiness or human agency.

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July 16, 2012

Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website. The service allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog, named a ‘tumblelog.’ Users can follow other users’ blogs, as well as make their blogs private. Much of the website’s features are accessed from the ‘dashboard’ interface, where the option to post content and posts of followed blogs appear. Tumblr has over 58.9 million blogs. Its headquarters is located in Midtown Manhattan. Tumblr was launched in 2007 by David Karp. Marco Arment served as the lead developer, though he left the company in 2010 to focus on Instapaper. Within two weeks of its launch, the service had gained 75,000 users.

With Tumblr’s 2009 acquisition of ‘Tumblerette,’ an Apple App Store application created by Jeff Rock and Garrett Ross, the service launched its official iPhone app. In June of 2012, Tumblr released a new version of its iOS app, Tumblr 3.0 allowing support for Spotify, hi-res images, and offline access. Also that summer, Tumblr featured its first major brand advertising campaign in conjunction with Adidas. Adidas launched an official soccer Tumblr blog and bought placements on the user dashboard. This launch was only two months after Tumblr announced it would be moving towards paid advertising on its site.

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July 16, 2012

TigerText

TigerText is a secure, real-time messaging application that allows text messages to be deleted from both the sender’s and the receiver’s phones after expiration, which could be a set period of time or after reading. The messages cannot be saved, copied, or forwarded by recipients. TigerText does this by storing the message on a company server, not the receiving and sending iPhones, and deleting when the expiration conditions are met. Founder Jeffrey Evans has stated that he picked the app’s name before the scandal that was related to Tiger Woods’ alleged text messages to a mistress.

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July 16, 2012

Animal Prostitution

Different studies show animal prostitution exists among species such as Adélie Penguins, chimpanzees, and crab-eating macaque. Penguins use stones for building their nests. A shortage of stones led female Adélie Penguins to trade sex for stones. The female penguins, even when in a committed relationship, will exchange sexual favors with strange males for the pebbles they need to build their nests. Prostitution is also observed among chimpanzees, who trade food for sex. The first documented case of prostitution in animals was reported in 1998 by Fiona Hunter and Lloyd Davis, who had spent five years observing the mating behavior of penguins. The study was conducted as part of an Antarctica New Zealand program on the Ross Island, approximately 800 miles from the South Pole. The female penguins observed under the study were coupled with males. The females will go outside alone to collect pebbles, but the males did not suspect their female partners. According to the observations and analysis made by Hunter, the prostitute penguins targeted single males, because if instead they picked a male penguin with a partner, the male penguin’s current partner will come in conflict with the prostitute female.

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July 16, 2012

IMAX

IMAX is a motion picture film format and a set of proprietary cinema projection standards created by a Canadian company of the same name. IMAX increases the resolution of the image by using a much larger film frame. To achieve this, 65 mm film stock passes horizontally through the cameras. Traditional cameras pass film vertically. In order to match standard film speed of 24 frames per second, three times the length of film moves through the camera. There are 583 IMAX theaters in 48 countries (China is the second largest market after the US with roughly 25 theaters). The desire to increase the visual impact of film has a long history. In 1929, Fox introduced Fox Grandeur, the first 70 mm film format, but it ultimately lost out to 35mm film, which remains the industry standard. In the 1950s CinemaScope and VistaVision widened the image from 35 mm film, following multi-projector systems such as Cinerama. While impressive, Cinerama was difficult to install, and the seams between adjacent projected images were difficult to hide.

The IMAX system was first proposed by Canadian filmmakers Graeme Ferguson and Roman Kroitor. During the ‘Expo 67′ World’s Fair in Montreal, Kroitor’s ‘In the Labyrinth’ and Ferguson’s ‘Man and the Polar Regions’ both used multi-projector, multi-screen systems. Each encountered technical difficulties that led them to found a company, initially called ‘Multiscreen,’ with a primary goal of designing and developing a simpler approach. The single-projector/single-camera system they eventually settled upon was designed and built by engineer William C. Shaw, based upon a novel ‘Rolling Loop’ film-transport technology purchased from Australian inventor Ronald Jones. Later, when it became clear that a single, large-screen image had more impact than multiple smaller ones, Multiscreen changed its name to IMAX.

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July 12, 2012

The Dubai Fountain

The Dubai Fountain is a record-setting choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubai development in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was designed by WET Design, the California-based company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 25 colored projectors, it is 275 m (902 ft) long and shoots water 240 feet into the air accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and world music. It was built at a cost $218 million US. The fountain was officially inaugurated in 2009 along with the official opening ceremony of the Dubai Mall.

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July 12, 2012

The Evolution Control Committee

The Evolution Control Committee (The ECC) is an experimental music band based in Columbus, Ohio. The ECC was founded by Mark Gunderson (a.k.a. TradeMark G.) in 1987. It typically uses uncleared and illegal samples from various sources as a form of protest against copyright law. The ECC also produces numerous audio experiments, such as the disfiguring of compact discs in live performance, known as ‘CDestruction,’ and has produced a few video works as well, ranging from re-edited 50′s corporate shorts to a Teddy Ruxpin reciting the works of William S. Burroughs. Other activities include culture jamming.

They are one of the pioneers of the mash-up or bootleg, where two or more songs are mixed together into a new track. According to Neil Strauss in the ‘New York Times,’ ‘…many musical observers trace the official beginnings of the British bootleg scene to The Evolution Control Committee, which in 1993 mixed a Public Enemy a cappella with music by Herb Alpert.’ These are the now-classic ‘Public Enemy/Whipped Cream Mixes,’ with Public Enemy’s inflammatory raps, ‘By the Time I Get To Arizona’ and ‘Rebel Without a Pause’ overdubbed onto instrumentals by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The ECC is probably best known for its song ‘Rocked By Rape,’ consisting of samples of Dan Rather’s deadpan delivery describing various atrocities over looped riffs from AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black.’ This work brought legal threats against The ECC by CBS, but by 2003, CBS appears to have let the issue go by.

July 12, 2012

Negativland

Negativland is an experimental music and sound collage band which originated in San Francisco in the late 1970s. They took their name from a Neu! song. The current core of the band consists of Mark Hosler, Richard Lyons, Don Joyce, David Wills, and Peter Conheim. Negativland has released a number of albums ranging from pure sound collage to more musical expositions. These have mostly been released on their own label, Seeland Records. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, they produced several recordings for SST Records, most notably ‘Escape from Noise,’ ‘Helter Stupid,’ and ‘U2.’ Negativland were sued by U2′s record label, Island Records, and by SST Records, which brought them widespread publicity and notoriety.

July 11, 2012

Indie Pop

Indie pop is a genre of alternative rock music that originated in the United Kingdom in the mid-1980s, with its roots in Scottish post-punk bands on the Postcard Records label in the early ’80s (Josef K and Orange Juice) and the dominant UK independent band of the mid-’80s, The Smiths. Indie pop was inspired by punk’s DIY ethic and related ideologies, and it generated a thriving fanzine, label, and club and gig circuit. Indie pop differs from indie rock to the extent that it is more melodic, less abrasive, and relatively angst-free. The term ‘indie’ had been used for some time to describe artists on independent labels (and the labels themselves), but the key moment in the naming of ‘indie pop’ as a genre was the release of NME’s ‘C86′ tape in 1986.

The compilation featured, among other artists, Primal Scream, The Pastels, and The Wedding Present, and ‘indie’ quickly became shorthand for a genre whose defining conventions were identified as jangling guitars, a love of ’60s pop, and melodic power pop song structures (the genre was initially dubbed ‘C86′ after the tape itself). In the mid to late ’80s, indie pop was criticized for its associations with so-called ‘shambling’ (a John Peel-coined description celebrating the self-conscious primitive approach of some of the music) and underachievement, but the ‘C86′ indie pop scene is now recognized as a pivotal moment for independent music in the UK.

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July 11, 2012

Pop Punk

Pop punk is a sub genre of alternative rock, which typically merges pop melodies with speedy punk tempos, chord changes, and loud guitars. Contemporary pop punk bands have a radio friendly sheen to their music, but still maintain much of the speed and attitude of classic punk rock. It is not clear when the term ‘pop punk’ was first used, but pop-influenced punk rock had been around since the mid- to late-1970s. An early use of the term appeared in a 1977 ‘New York Times’ article, ‘Cabaret: Tom Petty’s Pop Punk Rock Evokes Sounds of 60s.’ In the mid-1990s, the California pop punk bands Green Day and The Offspring, who were later followed by Blink-182, would all achieve worldwide commercial success. From the mid-1990s onwards, some bands associated with the genre have been described as happy punk, faux-punk, mall punk, pseudo-punk,or bubblegum punk.

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July 11, 2012

Top 40

Top 40 is a music industry shorthand for the currently most-popular songs in a particular genre. When used without qualification, it typically refers to the best-selling or most frequently broadcast popular music songs of the previous week. Top 40 became the dominant radio format of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Its popularity coincided with the rapid changes in recording technology in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1954, the recording industry agreed upon a standard recording format for higher fidelity music, so any new record player could play any new record.

Also in that year, new single records were released on 45 rpm records, and the Top 40 thereafter became a survey of the popularity of these records (and their airplay on the radio). Tape recording had become perfected, allowing artists more freedom as they composed songs, especially novelty songs. By the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the 45 rpm record would decrease in popularity and other means would be used to evaluate the popularity of new songs, such as cassette-single, CD single, and digital MP3/AAC sales (plus radio airplay).

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July 11, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic novel by British author E. L. James. Set largely in Seattle, it is the first instalment in a trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism (BDSM). The series has sold around 20 million copies worldwide, and set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, surpassing the Harry Potter series.

The trilogy was developed from a ‘Twilight’ fan fiction originally titled ‘Master of the Universe’ and published episodically on fan-fiction websites under the pen name ‘Snowqueens Icedragon.’ The piece featured characters named after Stephenie Meyer’s characters, Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. After comments concerning the sexual nature of the material, James removed the story from the fan-fiction websites and published it on her own website, FiftyShades.com. Later she rewrote ‘Master of the Universe’ as an original piece, with the principal characters renamed Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele and removed it from her website prior to publication The book’s erotic nature and perceived demographic of its fanbase as being composed largely of married women over thirty led to the books being dubbed ‘Mommy Porn’ by some news agencies. The success of the series is attributed to viral marketing, book blogs, and the rise in popularity of female erotica (made more acceptable by the discreet nature of e-reading devices).

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