Archive for June 3rd, 2011

June 3, 2011

Starship Troopers

power armor

Starship Troopers is a military science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first published (in abridged form) as a serial in ‘The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’ in 1959, published hardcover later that year. The first-person narrative is about a young soldier named Juan ‘Johnnie’ Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry, a futuristic military unit equipped with powered armor.

Rico’s military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an arachnoid species known as ‘the Bugs.’ Through Rico’s eyes, Heinlein examines moral and philosophical aspects of suffrage, civic virtue, the necessities of war and capital punishment, and the nature of juvenile delinquency.

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June 3, 2011

Ender’s Game

enemy gate

Ender’s Game is a 1985 science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card that originated as the short story published in a 1977 issue of ‘Analog Science Fiction and Fact.’ Card released an updated version of Ender’s Game in 1991, changing some political facts to accurately reflect the times, including the decline of the Soviet Union. In his 1991 introduction, he discussed the influence of Isaac Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ series on the novel. Historian Bruce Catton’s work on the American Civil War also influenced him heavily. Set in Earth’s future, the novel presents an imperiled humankind who have barely survived two conflicts with the Formics (an insectoid alien race).

In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, an international fleet maintains a school to find and train future fleet commanders. The world’s most talented children, including the novel’s protagonist, Ender Wiggin, are taken at a very young age to a training center known as the Battle School. There, teachers train them in the arts of war through increasingly difficult games including ones undertaken in zero gravity in the Battle Room where Ender’s tactical genius is revealed. Reception to the book was generally positive, though some critics have denounced Card’s perceived justification of his characters’ violent actions. It has also become suggested reading for many military organizations, including the United States Marine Corps.

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June 3, 2011

The Forever War

forever war

The Forever War is a 1974 science fiction novel by American author Joe Haldeman, telling the contemplative story of soldiers fighting an interstellar war between humanity and the enigmatic Tauran species.

The pithy, insightful explorations of the inhumanity of war and of bureaucracy, and of the psychological effects resulting from time dilation space travel (a soldier returns home after centuries away), won acclaim immediately.

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June 3, 2011

Stella

stella

Stella is a comedy trio consisting of Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and David Wain (all three of whom are alumni of the comedy troupe, The State). The group formed in 1997 as a weekly nightclub comedy attraction, performing at a New York City nightclub from 1997 until 2005. Stella soon gained a wider cult following after a series of self-produced shorts were released in limited quantities on DVD. Now known for their unique blend of potently mainstream comedy and surrealist humor, Stella has garnered a small but dedicated fanbase.

A noted aspect of Stella’s stand-up routine involved the members arguing with each other on stage. Michael Ian Black once referred to it as, ‘professional bickering,’ which some have compared to a ‘postmodern Smothers Brothers.’ Michael Showalter once said of their onstage bickering, ‘When people aren’t sure if what they’re watching is real or not, it kind of creates a tension. We have a certain amount of tension that’s very ripe comedically.’

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June 3, 2011

E.A.T.

eat manifesto

Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was a non-profit established in 1967 to develop collaborations between artists and engineers by the engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman. They had previously collaborated, most notably in 1966 for ‘9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering,’ a series of performance art presentations that united artists and engineers. Also in 1966, 10 New York artists worked with 30 engineers and scientists from the world renowned Bell Telephone Laboratories to create groundbreaking performances that incorporated new technology. Video projection, wireless sound transmission, and Doppler sonar had never been seen in art.

The installation gathered the vast and insightful but also often undecipherable shards, artifacts, apparatus, photographs, drawings, diagrams, correspondence, and documentary film footage that provides information, but little if any comprehensive understanding of a series of ten individual works that, although wildly uneven on every level from aesthetic to technical, have entered the canon of performance art, experimental music and theater, bridging the gap from the eras of Dada, Fluxus and the Happenings/Actions of the 1960s, through the current generation of arts for whom multimedia and technology are the norm. The pinnacle of E.A.T. activity is generally considered to be the Pepsi Pavilion at Expo ’70 at Osaka Japan where E.A.T. artists and engineers collaborated to design and program an immersive dome that included a fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya.

June 3, 2011

Moon Museum

moon museum

The Moon Museum is a small ceramic wafer three-quarters of an inch by half an inch in size, containing artworks by six prominent artists from the late 1960s. The artists with works in the ‘museum’ are Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, Forrest Myers, and Andy Warhol.

This wafer was supposedly covertly attached to a leg of the Intrepid landing module, and subsequently left on the moon during Apollo 12. The moon museum is considered the first Space Art object. While it is impossible to tell if the Moon Museum is actually on the moon without sending another mission to look, many other personal effects were smuggled onto the Apollo 12 lander and hidden in the layers of gold blankets that wrapped parts of the spacecraft.

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June 3, 2011

Claes Oldenburg

wordplay

pin

Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929) is a Swedish sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects. Another theme in his work is soft sculpture versions of everyday objects. He first opened his own studio in 1953, and became a naturalized citizen of the United States that year as well.

Many of Oldenburg’s large-scale sculptures of mundane objects elicited public ridicule before being embraced as whimsical, insightful, and fun additions to public outdoor art. In the 1960s he became associated with the Pop Art movement and created many so-called happenings, which were performance art related productions of that time. The name he gave to his own productions was ‘Ray Gun Theater.’

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June 3, 2011

BLT

The BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato) is a type of sandwich. The standard BLT is made up of five ingredients: bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and bread. The five ingredients can be altered according to preference; for example, the bread can be toasted and the mayonnaise home-made or replaced with ranch dressing. The BLT evolved from the tea sandwiches served before 1900 at a similar time to the club sandwich, although it is unclear when the name BLT became the norm.

The sandwich’s popularity has led to a number of oversized reproductions (the current record for the ‘world’s largest BLT’ is over 209 ft/64 m) and a pop art sculpture by Claes Oldenburg.

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June 3, 2011

Center for Feeling Therapy

going sane

The Center for Feeling Therapy was an abusive, cult-like psychotherapy group founded in 1971 in Los Angeles. The Center was founded by former members of Arthur Janov’s Primal Institute who were dissatisfied with what they felt were shortcomings in primal therapy (a psychotherapy based on the theory that neurosis is caused by the repressed pain of childhood trauma).

The Center started as an offshoot of primal therapy, but quickly abandoned primal therapy and subsequently went through many theoretical shifts, including an emphasis on dream analysis. At its peak it had 350 resident patients and 2,000 members including various branches.

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June 3, 2011

Primal Therapy

screaming pillow

Primal therapy is a trauma-based psychotherapy created by an American psychologist, Arthur Janov, who argues that neurosis is caused by the repressed pain of childhood trauma. Janov argues that repressed pain can be sequentially brought to conscious awareness and resolved through re-experiencing the incident and fully expressing the resulting pain during therapy. Primal therapy was developed as a means of eliciting the repressed pain; the term Pain is capitalized in discussions of primal therapy when referring to any repressed emotional distress and its purported long-lasting psychological effects. Janov criticizes the talking therapies as they deal primarily with the cerebral cortex and higher-reasoning areas and do not access the source of Pain within the more basic parts of the central nervous system.

Primal therapy became very influential during a brief period in the early 1970s, after the publication of Janov’s first book, ‘The Primal Scream.’ It inspired hundreds of spin-off clinics worldwide and served as an inspiration for many popular cultural icons. John Lennon, actor James Earl Jones and pianist Roger Williams were prominent advocates of primal therapy. Primal therapy has since declined in popularity, partly because Janov has not produced the outcomes necessary to convince research-oriented psychotherapists of its effectiveness. Janov and others continue to advocate and practice the therapy or various developments of it.

June 3, 2011

Dagen H

dagen h

Dagen H (H day), today mostly called ‘Högertrafikomläggningen’ (‘The right-hand traffic diversion’), was the day in 1967 on which traffic in Sweden switched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right. There were more major arguments for the change: All Sweden’s immediate neighbors drove on the right (including Norway, with which Sweden has a long land border). Most Swedes drove left-hand drive (LHD) vehicles. This led to many head-on collisions when passing on two-lane highways, which were common in Sweden because of its low population density and traffic levels.

Nonetheless, the change was widely unpopular, and had repeatedly been voted down over the previous forty years. In a 1955 referendum, 83 percent voted to keep driving on the left. In 1963, the Riksdag (the Swedish parliament) approved the change. It also began implementing a four-year education program, with the advice of psychologists. The campaign included displaying the Dagen H logo on various commemorative items, including milk cartons, men’s shorts, and women’s underwear.

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June 3, 2011

Daft Punk’s Electroma

electroma

Daft Punk’s Electroma is a 2007 film by French duo Daft Punk. The plot revolves around the quest of two robots (the band members, played by Peter Hurteau and Michael Reich) to become human. The music featured in this film is not by Daft Punk, which is a first for the duo after their previous film and home video releases, ‘D.A.F.T.’ and ‘Interstella 5555.’

The two lead characters appear as the robotic forms of Daft Punk; one wears a silver helmet and the other wears a gold one. An opening scene shows the duo driving in a 1987 Ferrari 412 with its license plate displaying ‘HUMAN.’ After passing through a Southwestern United States landscape, the duo arrives at a town in Inyo County, California. The town’s denizens are robots physically identical to the two main characters, but at different ages, with different clothing and alternating gender.

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