Archive for February 10th, 2011

February 10, 2011

Shoegaze

loveless

Shoegazing (also known as shoegaze) is a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. It lasted there until the mid 1990s, with a critical zenith reached in 1990 and 1991. The British music press named this style shoegazing because the musicians in these bands stood relatively still during live performances in a detached, introspective, non-confrontational state, hence the idea that they were gazing at their shoes. The heavy use of effects pedals also contributed to the image of performers looking down at their feet (shoegazing) during concerts.

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February 10, 2011

Buddha Machine

buddha machine

buddha machines

The Buddha Machine is a small musical loop player released by FM3, a China-based music duo. The name and idea derived from a popular Chinese music player that intones repeating loops of Buddhist chanting. The Buddha Machine continuously plays one of 9 ambient sound loops (drones) that range in length from 5 to 40 seconds. Resembling a small transistor radio, the device has a volume control that doubles as an on/off switch; a headphone jack; a 4.5V AC adapter jack; and a switch that, when moved, selects the next of 9 ambient loops. In 2008, the second edition (version 2.0) was released commercially; it replaces the original nine loops with nine new ones (totaling approximately 300 seconds of sound), and includes a new control that allows the user to alter the pitch of the sound.

In 2009, FM3 Productions Ltd released an iPhone app that has similar functionality to the real device. It has the option to select from version 1.0 or version 2.0 of the device and a single button that selects the loop to play. Also that year, Throbbing Gristle & Industrial Records released their version of the Buddha Machine, ‘Gristleism,’ with more loops and almost twice the frequency range of the Buddha Machine. In 2010, FM3 released the third generation Buddha Machine, titled Chan Fang. The music is divided into four loops which were composed and performed on the Gu Qin, an ancient Chinese classical instrument.

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February 10, 2011

Killing Hope

Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions since World War II is a history book on covert CIA operations and U.S. military interventions during the second half of the 20th century, written by former State Department employee William Blum. The book takes a strongly critical view of American foreign policy. The book covers various US foreign policy ventures from just after World War II onward.

Its basic premise is that the Soviet Union occupied the Warsaw Pact states only to better defend its territory and the American Cold War-era activities abroad were done with imperialist motives. It is an updated and revised version of one of Blum’s previous works, ‘The CIA – A Forgotten History.’ Noam Chomsky called it ‘Far and away the best book on the topic.’ First published in the mid-1980s, it has since been updated several times by the author.

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February 10, 2011

Disco Demolition Night

Disco Demolition Night was a promotional event that took place on Thursday, July 12, 1979, at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois, during which a crate filled with records was blown up on the field. It was held during the doubleheader baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. During the climax of the event, rowdy fans surged onto the field, and a near riot ensued. It would ultimately prove to be one of the most notable promotional ideas and one of the most infamous since ‘Ten Cent Beer Night’ in Cleveland in 1974. The event was the culmination of a popular backlash against disco music.

February 10, 2011

Lina Medina

lina medina

Lina Medina (b. 1933) is the youngest confirmed mother in medical history, giving birth at the age of five years, seven months and 21 days. She now lives in Lima, Peru. Medina’s son weighed 2.7 kg (6.0 lb; 0.43 st) at birth and was named Gerardo after her doctor. Gerardo was raised believing that Medina was his sister, but found out at the age of 10 that she was his mother. He grew up healthy but died in 1979 at the age of 40 of a bone marrow disease. Medina never revealed the father of the child nor the circumstances of her impregnation. Her father was arrested on suspicion of rape and incest, but was later released due to lack of evidence.

Although the case was called a hoax by some, a number of doctors over the years have verified it based on biopsies, X rays of the fetal skeleton in utero, and photographs taken by the doctors caring for her. Extreme precocious puberty in children 5 or under is very uncommon; pregnancy and delivery by a child this young remains extremely rare. Extreme precocious puberty is treated to suppress fertility, preserve growth potential, and reduce the social consequences of full sexual development in childhood.

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February 10, 2011

Spite House

hollensbury spite house

A spite house is a building constructed or modified to irritate neighbors or other parties with land stakes. Spite houses often serve as obstructions, blocking out light or access to neighboring buildings, or as flamboyant symbols of defiance. Because long-term occupation is at best a secondary consideration, spite houses frequently sport strange and impractical structures. Spite houses are much rarer than spite fences. This is partially attributable to the fact that modern building codes often prevent the construction of houses likely to impinge on neighbors’ views or privacy.

Probably the most famous spite house was the Richardson Spite House in New York City at Lexington Avenue and 82nd Street. Built in 1882 and demolished in 1915, it was four stories tall, 104 feet (31.7 m) long, and only five feet (1.5 m) wide. Joseph Richardson, the owner of the plot of the same dimensions, built it after the owner of the adjacent plot, Hyman Sarner, unsuccessfully tried to purchase the land. Sarner considered the plot useless by itself and offered only $1000; Richardson demanded $5000. After the deal fell through, Richardson had an apartment building constructed on his land. It was a functional (albeit impractical) apartment building with eight suites, each consisting of three rooms and a bath.

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February 10, 2011

FM-2030

fm 2030

FM-2030 (1930 – 2000) was a transhumanist author, born Fereidoun M. Esfandiary in Brussels to an Iranian diplomat. He became notable in 1989 with the book ‘Are You a Transhuman?: Monitoring and Stimulating Your Personal Rate of Growth in a Rapidly Changing World.’ He also wrote a number of works of fiction under his original name. He changed his name to FM-2030  to reflect the hope and belief that he would live to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2030, and more importantly, to break free of the widespread practice of naming conventions that he saw as rooted in a collectivist mentality, and existing only as a relic of humankind’s tribalistic past. He viewed traditional names as almost always stamping a label of collective identity – varying from gender, to nationality – on the individual.

Many of FM-2030’s predictions about social trends from the 1970s through the early 21st century proved remarkably prescient. He argued that the inherent dynamic of the modern globalizing civilization would bring such changes about despite the best efforts of conservative elites to enforce traditional beliefs. He predicted in vitro fertilization and correcting genetic flaws in 1977; in 1980, he predicted teleconferencing, telemedicine, and teleshopping. He taught at The New School, UCLA, and Florida International University. He worked as a corporate consultant for Lockheed and J.C. Penney. He was a lifelong vegetarian and said he would not eat anything that had a mother. He died from pancreatic cancer and was placed in cryonic suspension at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona, where his body remains today.

February 10, 2011

Ingsoc

ingsoc

Ingsoc is the political ideology of the totalitarian government of Oceania in George Orwell’s dystopian science fiction novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four.’ Ingsoc (‘English Socialism’) originated after the socialist party took over, but, because The Party continually rewrites history, it is impossible to establish the precise origin of the movement. Ingsoc demands the complete submission – mental, moral and physical – of the people, and will torture to achieve it. It is a masterfully complex system of psychological control that compels confession to imagined crimes and the forgetting of rebellious thought in order to love ‘Big Brother’ and The Party over oneself.

From the novel: ‘The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.’

February 10, 2011

Flipism

flipism

Flipism is a pseudophilosophy under which all decisions are made by flipping a coin. It originally appeared in the Disney comic ‘Flip Decision’ by Carl Barks, published in 1953. Barks called a practitioner of ‘Flipism’ a ‘Flippist.’ In the comic book, Donald Duck meets Professor Batty, who persuades Donald to make decisions based on flipping a coin at every crossroad of life. Donald soon gets into trouble when following this advice. He drives a one way road in the wrong direction and is fined $50.

February 10, 2011

Radical Cheerleading

cheerleader che

Radical cheerleading is a form of cheerleading that originated in Florida, but has now spread across the United States as well as Canada, Europe and beyond. The idea is to ironically reappropriate the aesthetics of cheerleading, for example by changing the chants to promote feminism and left-wing causes. Radical cheerleaders often perform at demonstrations. They also often perform at feminist and other radical festivals and events.

Radical cheerleading is used at demonstrations to promote a radical message in a media-friendly, people-friendly way. It is also used to support the actions of other activists who put themselves at physical risk and to denounce infiltrators and opponents. Radical cheerleaders are often anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist. Their cheers are usually written from scratch or by rewriting the words of popular and historic songs. Radical cheerleaders dress in diverse ways but often wear a combination of red or pink and black.

February 10, 2011

Cat Burning

Demon Cat

Cat burning was a form of zoosadistic entertainment in 17th century Paris, France. People would gather dozens of cats in a net and hoist them high into the air from a special bundle onto a bonfire. Those assembled shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized.

The people collected the embers and ashes of the fire and took them home, believing that they brought good luck. The French kings often witnessed these spectacles and even lit the bonfire with their own hands. In the medieval and early modern periods, cats, which were associated with vanity and witchcraft, were sometimes burned as symbols of the Devil.

February 10, 2011

Magical Negro

bagger vance

john coffey by Jim Stigall

In American cinema, the magical negro is a supporting stock character who, by use of special insight or powers, helps the white protagonist. The word negro, now considered by many as archaic and sometimes offensive, is used intentionally to suggest that the archetype is a racial throwback, an update of the ‘Sambo’ and ‘Noble savage’ stereotypes.

African-American filmmaker Spike Lee popularized the term in 2001 while discussing films with students at Washington State University and at Yale University. The magical negro is a subset of the more generic ‘numinous negro,’ a term coined by Richard Brookhiser in National Review for saintly, respected or heroic black protagonists or mentors.

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