Category Archives: news of the world

Oh, the NSA…

Whether you personally have something to hide, it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling completely comfortable with the NSA’s unblinking eye running over their correspondence and phone records. As a patriotic red-blooded American, you might think one of two things. Either Edward Snowden is a hero who’s blown the lid off a villainous security state, or Snowden is a snivelling crook. And why would you entrust your personal correspondence to an organization known to employ traitors and petty criminals like Edward Snowden?

More here…

A Very Short List of Reasons Why Life is Unfair

1. The Chunnel does not actually look like the Deeprun Tram.

Alas, dear traveller, no. It is something more like twenty minutes of darkness, and then you’re in France. Which I suppose is something like a metaphor, though for what I’m not entirely sure.

Violence in American Culture

“We have no language for democracy. We have no language for compassion. Neoliberalism collapses public issues into private troubles and in doing so not only destroys democratic values and forms of solidarity, but also extends a continuity of cruelty, misery, and exploitation into every sphere of everyday life–from schools and the work place to the workings of a state that now thrives on punishing rather than nourishing the welfare state. We view any form of dependency, any form of regard for the other as humiliating and worthy of scorn.” From a TruthOut interview with Henry A Giroux


It’s boffo!

“Hell Broke Luce”

Tom Waits’ new video just gave me chills.

According to the internet, “Hell Broke Luce” was inspired by a real person; “Nearly a year after coming home from the war, Jeff Lucey hanged himself with a garden hose in his family’s basement.”

Creative types have known this for years…

“This less focused cognitive state makes people more susceptible to think about other, seemingly unrelated information—like things they experienced earlier or their to-do list,” she explains. “This additional information floating around in your mind during your nonoptimal time of day ultimately helps you reach that creative aha! moment.”
Sleepy Brains Think Freely 

I went in for a sleep consult the other day, and the staff were telling me that ALL of their female writer and producer clients were severe night owls, just like me. Apparently shift-sleep-disorder is just an occupational hazard for creatives.

The Most Common Bird in the World…

Many field guides call the house sparrow the European house sparrow or the English sparrow and describe it as being native to Europe, but it is not native to Europe, not really. For one thing, the house sparrow depends on humans to such an extent it might be more reasonable to say it is native to humanity rather than to some particular region. Our geography defines its fate more than any specific requirements of climate or habitat.

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Copyright and You!

Jack Valenti, longtime MPAA president, proclaimed to a congressional panel in 1982 that the “VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.” Mike Masnick, who runs the influential Silicon Valley blog TechDirt, sees an acute irony in comparing the video recorder to a rapist and murderer. “Movie and television studios are now saying the biggest threat that online piracy poses to their business models is lost DVD sales and rentals,” Masnick says. “That market only exists because of the VCR.”


When I say I’m pro-piracy AND an artist, people always ask, “but wouldn’t you be upset to see your work pirated?” and the answer is no. So far as I’m concerned, individual pirates are not the problem, never have been and never will be.

The first book you ever read by your favorite author, did you buy it before you read it, or did you borrow it from a friend, the library, or even get it from a used book store? As a result of that “lost sale” the worst thing that happened was that the author then made other sales in future — think about it, how many of their books have you bought since then? How often have you suggested that book to someone else? How many copies have you bought as gifts?

I believe that people want to support their favorite artists, and I’m putting my money where my mouth is on this one. When my book is ready for publication, I’ll be releasing it in paperback via a small publisher who will set whatever price he thinks is appropriate, but have retained the e-book rights for myself, so I can offer the e-book as a pay-what-you-will download, which is to say, for free.

Why? Because if the book is good, folks will recommend it, and I will make money. Maybe not much, but I believe that’s less the fault of the model, and more a result of the niche subjects I tend to choose. I never had any ideas of writing a best seller, but even so I could do quite well; the data I’ve seen so far suggests I may even make more than if I’d priced it traditionally.

As to the free copies? Well, people who aren’t willing to put down a little cash upfront, or even come back later and pitch me a few bucks probably weren’t ever going to buy the book anyway. It’s not like you can twist someone’s arm on a thing like that. Anyway, what I’ve read suggests the free copies simply average out the high dollar purchases, so in effect, those free copies are not lost sales, they’re free advertising. This is a tried and true model, remember shareware?


Also please note, the question is not, “do you want to see a factory in a third world country reproducing your work in shabby quality with the unsafe labor of children for pennies on the dollar and selling it at an outrageous markup to your unsuspecting fans?” Which, obviously, nobody wants — but US anti-piracy laws aren’t going to stop overseas factories from producing knockoffs. We need the governments in those countries to make and enforce their own laws in a way that works for them. Turning ordinary citizens into criminals isn’t the answer.

Smoke, lemon, sea breeze…

“We’ve sanitized our urban environments to such a degree that any experience that’s out of our control, we automatically react negatively to it.”

Here’s a really neat article on how we respond to different smells, and the impact that has on how we perceive our surroundings, written from an urban/architectural design point of view.

This is a fascinating article…

NEW YORK— When a dinner of venison topped with date and tahini sauce was served on plates taken from Saddam Hussein‘s private collection at Park Avenue Autumn for Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz‘s project “Spoils,” the assorted art-world diners didn’t bat an eye — but now New York City’s Iraqi mission has, turning Rakowitz’s piece into an international incident.

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