The Null Device
Civilization IV, the latest in the highly addictive game series, is coming soon, and looks interesting; other than the gameplay, it will be extensively customisable using XML-based data and Python scripting. Ht's probably just as well that there is an organisation such as Civilization Anonymous; I suspect they'll be busy.
(via worldchanging, 433)
A new art exhibit is causing controversy in Paris; the Plancher de Jeannot (Jeannot's Floorboards) consists of the floor of a Pyreneean farmhouse, into which its schizophrenic inhabitant carved increasingly disturbed rants:
Jeannot moved his bed to the dining room, next to the stairs, and began carving the oak floor: 'Religion has invented machines for commanding the brain of people and animals and with an invention for seeing our vision through the retina uses us to do ill (...) the church after using Hitler to kill the Jews wanted to invent a trial to take power (...) we Jean Paule are innocent we have neither killed nor destroyed nor hurt others it's religion that uses electronic machines to command the brain.'The Plancher de Jeannot have gone on display at the Bibliotheque François Mitterrand in Paris, amidst much controversy; once the exhibition is finished, they will be donated to a psychiatric hospital in Paris. Some photographs are here amd here.
As part of VICE's "Kill Your Parents" issue, Jim Goad sets the record straight on a number of baby-boomer counterculture heroes:
He was many things … a First Amendment warrior, a womanizer, a hipster and a junkie … but the one thing a comedian is supposed to befunnyhe wasn’t. “Take away the right to say ‘fuck,’ ” came one of Lenny Bruce’s most famously self-serving lines, “and you take way the right to say, ‘fuck the government.’ ” Thanks, Lenny. We’re now allowed to say “fuck” in certain special circumstances. But the government fucked you harder. You turned rat on your drug-dealing friends, and it’s safe to assume your morphine overdose in 1966 was a hot shot delivered as street vengeance.
The Beatles were a great rock ’n’ roll band except they couldn’t sing, play their instruments, or keep a beat. Despite claims of being a “working-class hero” after he’d salted away millions, and in spite of his prophet-of-peace shtick even though he was an overweening sourpuss who couldn’t even get along with his bandmates or wives, this sanctimonious junkie is still embraced as a beacon of childlike truth-seeking. He was shot dead by precisely the sort of true believer his massive ego helped spawn. His murderer, Mark David Chapman, reportedly used to lead schoolchildren in singing a parody of his hero’s signature song: “Imagine there’s no John Lennon.” It wasn’t hard to do.
In 1950, a book titled The Authoritarian Personality posited the claim that, far from being alien, fascist tendencies were commonplace in American society. The book is best known for the "F Scale", a test of how inclined one would be, should the opportunity present itself, to don the jackboots of authoritarianism. The test consisted of a number of multiple-choice questions, with the answers added to give a score; in that sense, it's an ancestor of numerous OKCupid tests and LiveJournal memes.
The F Scale is not perfect: for one, it focuses almost exclusively on a strain of traditionalist, right-wing authoritarianism, ignoring other strains, such as Soviet-style social engineering. (This could be because one of the authors was the famous Marxist critical theorist Theodor Adorno, and/or because authoritarian utopianism à la Lenin never had more than niche popularity in the US, where the research was carried out.) However, according to this article, it's more relevant today than it was when it was written:
In the June 19, 2005, issue of The New York Times Magazine, the journalist Russell Shorto interviewed activists against gay marriage and concluded that they were motivated not by a defense of traditional marriage, but by hatred of homosexuality itself. "Their passion," Shorto wrote, "comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: It seeks to spread itself." It is not difficult to conclude where those people would have stood on the F scale.
Consider the case of John R. Bolton, now our ambassador to the United Nations. While testifying about Bolton's often contentious personality, Carl Ford Jr., a former head of intelligence within the U.S. State Department, called him a "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy." Surely, in one pithy sentence, that perfectly summarizes the characteristics of those who identify with strength and disparage weakness. Everything Americans have learned about Bolton -- his temper tantrums, intolerance of dissent, and black-and-white view of the world -- step right out of the clinical material assembled by the authors of The Authoritarian Personality.
One item on the F scale, in particular, seems to capture in just a few words the way that many Christian-right politicians view the world in an age of terror: "Too many people today are living in an unnatural, soft way; we should return to the fundamentals, to a more red-blooded, active way of life."
They're now working on carbonating things other than soft drinks; like, for example, milk and fruit and such:
"When you put the product on your tongue you get a woosh of gas that comes off the product and onto your mouth," said John Brisson, a mechanical engineering professor and co-developer of the carbonated ice cream. "With soda you don't get this woosh kind of thing."
A company called Fizzy Fruit plans to introduce carbonated, cut fruit to sell at schools and other venues.
(via bOING bOING)