Balloon test flight

For an extra challenge we launched our weather balloon wifi rig at one of the most canine-dense areas of Central Park.

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Uncategorized · Comment · June 13, 2012

Doug Henwood vs. Adam Davidsonlbo-news.com

Last January Doug Henwood, one of my favorite lefty blogger-radio people, wrote a nasty response to Adam Davidson’s New York Times Magazine article on Wall Street:

For a while, I’ve been thinking about writing a piece on how NPR is more toxic than Fox News. Fox preaches to the choir. NPR, though, confuses and misinforms people who might otherwise know better. Its “liberal” reputation makes palatable a deeply orthodox message for a demographic that could be open to a more critical message.

The full critique will take some time. But a nice warm-up opportunity has just presented itself: a truly wretched piece of apologetic hackery by Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money economics reporting team, that appears in today’s New York Times magazine.

So I was excited to see that Davidson recently appeared on Henwood’s radio show, Behind the News:

Adam Davidson, host of NPR’s Planet Money and columnist for the New York Times Magazine, on finance, innovation, bourgeois ideology, journalism, and being mean on the Internet.

The discussion starts out with a lot of Henwood talking uninterrupted, and coming off a bit defensive, but then they get into an interesting big picture discussion about the nature of ideology in popular media. The blog post Henwood mentions in the introduction on Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin (and its follow-up) is also worthwhile.

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Uncategorized · Comment · June 11, 2012

#ShellFail behind the scenes (updated again)twitter.com

Here’s the amazing follow-up to yesterday’s Shell party malfunction now confirmed to be the work of The Yes Men.

The terms ‘hoax’ and ‘fake’ don’t seem quite right to me. This is theater, plain and simple. The audience—both online and in person (?)—isn’t in on the joke for the first act, but this is all part of the larger theater experience. This video is act 2, and the resulting conversation and press coverage is act 3.

There’s a lot of symbolism packed into these short YouTube videos, but age is one of the more potent ones to me. The central character this video opens with is a stand-in for the many generations who’ve squandered the natural world at the expense of our inheritors. We don’t feel so bad laughing at her in the first act because of what she represents. That she’s already a well-known figure within the Occupy narrative makes the big reveal all the sweeter. Bravo, Yes Men!

Update: I may have spoken too soon about act 3. Check out Arctic Ready website and the accompanying Twitter account.

Update 2: There’s another written recap of the event on Salon.

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Uncategorized · Comment · June 8, 2012

Ray Bradbury 1963 filmwww.theatlantic.com

A 25 minute video on Ray Bradbury from The Atlantic.

I love that he lived in Los Angeles but didn’t drive a car. There’s also this moment at 4:25 where you see a sign above his desk “DON’T THINK.” Seems like sound advice for how to conduct yourself behind a keyboard, so I’ve added a similar one to my own desk.

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Uncategorized · Comment · June 8, 2012

Shell’s party malfunction (updated again)occupyseattle.org

From Occupy Seattle:

Last night Logan Price, a Seattle Occupier who’s now living in New York, managed to infiltrate a private party thrown by Shell Oil at the Space Needle to celebrate the launch of its Arctic drilling program. He caught this amazing video.

From TreeHugger:

Everything about this is, quite frankly, hilarious. Beyond any satisfaction gleaned from seeing such a preposterous party come to a disastrous end, metaphors abound, and they’re about as subtle as a sledgehammer: if Shell can’t even handle a three-foot replica of a rig that pumps booze, how is the company going to fare in the Arctic deep?

I’m going to hold out hope that this was a legitimate malfunction on the part of Shell, not the work of an activist.

Update: Gawker is reporting that it’s a hoax.

Update 2: In case there was any doubt left, this the work of the Yes Men.

Link via Eric Brelsford

Uncategorized · Comment · June 7, 2012

Gizmodo will pay you for photos of Mark Zuckerberggizmodo.com

Mat Honan:

Two years ago, Mark Zuckerberg told startup publicist Mike Arrington that “people have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

Facebook has evolved over time too. No longer privately held, it is itself a public company, with a public CEO. We think it’s time he evolves along with his company. In short, it’s time for Mark to go public too.

Here’s the deal: We’re going to pay for photos and videos of Mark Zuckerberg taken between now and Labor Day. Snap a photo or shoot some video of Mark. At a bar, after a conference, on the street. Totally great. We want pictures of him that he isn’t expecting to have made. If we run it, we’ll send you a cool $20.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say $20 is low compared to standard paparazzi rates. This reminds me a little of Rob Cockerham’s paparazzi contest, which was great fun to participate in.

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Uncategorized · Comment · June 7, 2012

Star Wars and Modernism introductionstarwarsmodern.blogspot.com

John Powers aka @starwarsmodern:

Earlier this week on twitter I ‘tweeted’ what might be thought of as an 8-bit art history lecture. By “8-Bit” I mean that, in the same way an 8-bit portrait is accurate, if radically simplified, this is a blocky generalized history. I was spurred to give this lecture after Todd Florio passed on the artist, Tom Sachs’ observation that “Darth Vader IS Hitler. Yoda IS Buddha.” Sachs owns Foamcore, police barricades, and can make an almost entirely air-tight claim on NASA, but Star Wars is mine. Sorry Tom.

I’m pretty sure this is what the internet was invented for.

Darth Vader is a Modernist

“Darth Vader was not a German Fascist, he was an American fascist (lowercase f)”

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Uncategorized · Comment · June 7, 2012

Machine Project Documentary Portraitvimeo.com

This video by David Fenster was created two years ago, but it’s new to me (as are the other Machine Project videos).

Machine Project and Mark Allen are among my favorite things in Los Angeles. Mark gave a good interview on Bad At Sports about his year-long residency at the Hammer Museum (my favorite LA museum!).

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Uncategorized · Comment · June 6, 2012

Income inequality as seen from spacepersquaremile.com

From Tim De Chant’s Per Square Mile blog:

Last week, I wrote about how urban trees—or the lack thereof—can reveal income inequality. After writing that article, I was curious, could I actually see income inequality from space? It turned out to be easier than I expected.

He makes some interesting comparisons from satellite images of cities around the world. Here is where I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn compared with the place in New York State with the highest per-capita income, Hewlett Bay Park.

Bushwick, Brooklyn (per capita income is $11,871)

Hewlett Bay Park, Long Island (per capita income is $113,320)

Link via BoingBoing

Uncategorized · Comment · June 5, 2012

The 20 All-Time Worst TED Talkswww.buzzfeed.com

I feel slightly bad linking to this since I know a couple of the speakers on the list. But I still chuckled a bit as I was reading it. Now I see some chatter about a TED parody event.

Uncategorized · Comment · June 5, 2012

The paralyzed rat is not walkingwww.reuters.com

I’ve seen this video going around, advancing the idea that science has enabled a paralyzed rat to walk. This follows on some other impressive medical feats like the brain-controlled robotic arm.

The thing that struck me in the video, though, is that the rat is moving involuntarily. The rat’s body is walking, but it’s an advanced QWOP-style computer algorithm that’s in control. To me this research seems more similar to those creepy Boston Dynamics robots than other advances in rehabilitative medicine.

The rat, in this case, is just a meat-based robot. Now watch the video with that in mind, watch the spasms of the front legs, and the cooing encouragement from the lab tech. Creepy right?

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Uncategorized · Comment · June 3, 2012

Seeing yourself seeing your self0009.org

Jason Wilson on presenting his project OuterBody while using it:

I’d always suspected that an on-stage experience would be interesting, if not transformative, so I took the opportunity to give my talk while wearing the OuterBody goggles that only allow me to see myself from a third person perspective. I’d imagined that seeing yourself on stage from the perspective of an audience member might reduce some stage fright if the sense of self could successfully move from your body on stage into the camera in the aisle. Let the attention fall on that disembodied you that you’re also staring at.

Link via Andre

Uncategorized · Comment · June 1, 2012

Class and attention quality

From yesterday’s New York Times article, “Wasting Time Is New Divide in Digital Era”:

“Despite the educational potential of computers, the reality is that their use for education or meaningful content creation is minuscule compared to their use for pure entertainment,” said Vicky Rideout, author of the decade-long Kaiser study. “Instead of closing the achievement gap, they’re widening the time-wasting gap.”

Policy makers and researchers say the challenges are heightened for parents and children with fewer resources—the very people who were supposed to be helped by closing the digital divide.

The same day Matt Mullenweg posted this video to his blog. It’s a presentation about the social implications of constantly using one’s iPhone, given at a country club.

Digital literacy and attention quality are certainly important across the socioeconomic spectrum, but I do think that it’s legitimate for public policy to focus on the needs of lower income people. More from the Times article:

The new divide is such a cause of concern for the Federal Communications Commission that it is considering a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers.

Separately, the commission will help send digital literacy trainers this fall to organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Some of the financial support for this program, part of a broader initiative called Connect2Compete, comes from private companies like Best Buy and Microsoft.

Let me preface this by saying that I have much respect for Microsoft’s danah boyd, who is quoted in the article. But the idea of Best Buy and Microsoft funding a national digital literacy program sounds to me like McDonald’s funding a new school lunch program. “Connect2Compete” sounds like a great name for some dystopian parody of corporate-training-mill style technology education.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully support these kinds of initiatives. I just think we need more independent efforts, for example Jonathan Baldwin’s Tidepools. As part of his thesis project at Parsons, Baldwin set up free community wifi for primarily lower income residents of Brooklyn’s Red Hook. The community mapping application he created uses the visual language of gaming to do things like improve civic infrastructure and map out the locations of NYPD stop-and-frisks.

It’s impressive work, and I’m happy to hear he’ll be developing it further under the New America Foundation. And it’s given me a lot of ideas about how I should proceed with Occupy.here.

Uncategorized · Comment · May 31, 2012

Why you should fear Mitt Romneywww.animalnewyork.com

All this talk about “Amercia” is a distraction:

Gaffes stick when they reinforce an existing criticism of a candidate. Is anyone really worried that Mitt Romney, whose personal crest may as well be a spreadsheet, is insufficiently obsessed with details?

Here is Jay Smooth explaining why the Romney “meh” response is dangerous:

Also, my site was down for a while earlier today. It’s all fixed now.

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Uncategorized · Comment · May 30, 2012