Wednesday 30 September 2009

amanda palmer: why i am not afraid to take your money

As One Working Musician put it, "[Amanda] clearly lays out her reasoning for not being ashamed or afraid to ask her fans to pay her for her work. This is one of the clearest statements of what I call the New Artist???s Creed that I have read to date." On a tip from uglyrug, a snip of Amanda's Creed:

it???s about empowerment and it???s about SIMPLICITY: fan loves art, artist needs money, fan gives artist money, artist says thank you.

the critics are welcome to criticize.
they do not have to attend the party.
and even if they attend the party with rolling eyes, they will not be charged.
they will be hugged, they will be accepted and entertained, and they will not be given the hairy eyeball if they leave the room without tipping.
chances are they???ll tell a friend about the next party, and their friend will probably leave a dollar. and tell someone else.

taking my stand as a virtual street performer is the best thing that???s happened to my career and i revel in it.
and i love bringing people along for the ride.

i believe in the future of cheap art, creative enterprise, and an honorable public who will put their money where there mouth is, or rather, their spare change where their heart is.

So says the self-professed Virtual Street Performer who started her performance career working the street-busking circuits as an inert sculpture, "i do not claim to have figured out the perfect system, not by a long shot. BUT ??? i???d rather get the system right gradually and learn from the mistakes and break new ground... we are creating the protocol, people, right here and now. i don???t care if we fuck up. i care THAT we???re doing it."

The Staffordshire Hoard

Early Medieval folded cross

This hoard is perhaps the most importantcollection of Anglo-Saxon objects foundin England. It compares and perhapsexceeds those objects found at SuttonHoo. Originally discovered by metaldetectorist Terry Herbert in July 2009and subsequently excavated by BirminghamUniversity Archaeology Unit andStaffordshire County Council.

Leslie Webster, former Keeper ofPrehistory and Europe at the BritishMuseum describes this discovery as:

"...this is going to alter ourperceptions of Anglo-Saxon England inthe seventh and early eighth century asradically, if not moreso, as the 1939Sutton Hoo discoveries did; it will makehistorians and literary scholars reviewwhat their sources tell us, andarchaeologists and art-historiansrethink the chronology of metalwork andmanuscripts; and it will make us allthink again about rising (and failing)kingdoms and the expression of regionalidentities in this period, thecomplicated transition from paganism toChristianity, the conduct of battle andthe nature of fine metalwork production- to name only a few of the many hugeissues it raises. Absolutely themetalwork equivalent of finding a newLindisfarne Gospels or Book ofKells."

The images contained in this set invitecomment. We accept there may be someerrors with labelling as this was donein a very short space of time. If you douse these images please attribute asused courtesy of the Staffordshire hoardwebsite.

For more information: and The entire hoard will be catalogued onour database in due course and madeavailable to the public.

see also for some context on the biblical inscriptions.

Sunday 27 September 2009

An Anatomical Guide To Monsters


The people at noted that these illustrations


by Shogo Endo are from "An Anatomical Guide To Monsters,"


a 1967 book with text by Shoji Otomo,


adding "If anyone can find a copy, we'll take it!"

[via Milena]

Study these carefully. You just never know. In related news, if you're looking for the sort of mini-pickup used in Godzilla - Final Wars
to transport baby-Godzillas (Minya), there's a pristine (untrodden) one for sale at the video store in Sauble Beach. Again, you just never know.

Enhancing Attention and Cognition

If there were a surefire way to improve your brain, would you try it? Judging by the abundance of products, programs and pills that claim to offer ???cognitive enhancement,??? many people are lining up for just such quick brain fixes. Recent research offers a possibility with much better, science-based support...

"when children find an art form that sustains their interest, the subsequent strengthening of their brains??? attention networks can improve cognition more broadly."

Put another way, yes there are other ways to enhance the humanity in children, but looking at it realistically, will anyone later pay to watch them do those? That said, I often criticize precisely these sort of me-first rationales because the key difference with music or dance training is in the societal dividends that the playing induces, and it disturbs me a bit to see the music shops now brimming with accolades of musical training as some sort of self-improvement, self-enhancing strategy, which is true and good, but they neglect the wider and perhaps more important aspects of community enhancement to be had in a choral society.

Friday 25 September 2009

Costa Rica Creates Department of Peace

IMAGINE PEACE: "Costa Rica’s justice ministry was created to oversee the country’s penitentiary systems and supervise research on criminal behavior, but had no responsibility for crime prevention. A 1998 executive decree addressed this lapse by creating the National Directorate for the Prevention of Crime. The recent legislation takes crime prevention in a new direction, replacing the old directorate with the newly formed Directorate for the Promotion of Peace and the Peaceful Coexistence of Citizens.

“While we talk about prevention of violence, we are experiencing its effects every day. Changing the language and speaking about ‘promotion of peace’ lead[s] us to the roots of the problem,”

The ministry will take on new responsibilities, including peace promotion, violence prevention (for example, by targeting a recent increase of juvenile offenders), and an emphasis on conflict resolution.

With this change in name, the focus on prevention of violence has been shifted to promotion of peace,” says Kelly Isola of the Rasur Foundation, the Costa Rican nongovernmental organization that proposed the law in 2005. Having a department of peace, she said, will enable Costa Rica “to benefit from international experiences, which demonstrate that a culture of peace has positive effects in the reduction of violence and crime.”"

Thursday 24 September 2009

How to make people less likely to want to enhance your life


It's very easy. Simply do what most people do: when someone tells or gives you something or sends you a link or a photo or anything you already have or have read or seen, first thing say, "Oh, I saw / knew / have that."

Me, I see a lot but you'll never, ever hear me saying that. Why? Because the instant you deflate the other person's bubble of joy at giving you something they think you'll like, you make it much more likely that next time they'll reflexively think, "the heck with him/her, why bother?" And you'll be sure to miss out on something that would've indeed been a wonderful surprise as a result of your having been so full of yourself you just had to show how up to the minute you were.

Common courtesy demands graciousness, perhaps an increasingly lost art but still one worth cultivating, not only for your own good but that of those around you. A simple "thank you" works beautifully. Always has, always will.

ah, but, you probably already knew that.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

The Smart(er) Car

Traveling in an urban environment can be daunting, particularly if you’re sightseeing in a new place. If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris, where rental bikes dot the landscape (or in the future, where these awesome energy-generating rental bikes live), you’ve got it made. But for the rest of us? We can either drive, try to learn the mass transit system, or hoof it.

MIT stackable cars 3

Thanks to a group of tireless researchers at MIT, we might have another option in the future. These nifty stackable cars, dubbed CityCars, could one day be available to rent, just like those Parisian bikes. They’re electric, so there’s no need to worry about filling them up. You just grab the first fully-charged one on the rack and go. The racks would be located outside of tourist spots and mass transit stops, making it much easier to fill in the gaps in a city’s transit system. And since the project is getting stylistic input from legendary architect Frank Gehry, you know you’re going to look ultra cool riding around in one.

Yonge & Adelaide tangled up in great swarms of these things would be like an adult version of those electric mini-car derbies they have in the malls for the toddlers! Seriously, though, can you imagine if Toronto closed off all traffic except delivery/emergency arteries and left the rest to the likes of these mutant golf-carts? Set up whole regions as "No Combustion" roadway zones and you can bet your bippie the other auto-makers would rapidly join GM in rolling out special purpose and custom-taste variations of the electro urban-podcar, and who cares if hydro/electric is limited by charge and the lightweight frames limited in speed: It's only really a few km from Steeles to Front St (just seems light-years away) and Toronto trafficbarely ever beats 40km/hr anyway!

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Monday 21 September 2009


[A tailings pond is a toxic lake so dangerous that air cannon and scarecrows are used to deter wildlife. ?? Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]
[A tailings pond is a toxic lake so dangerous that air cannon and scarecrows are used to deter wildlife. ?? Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]

One of my favorite films from this year???s TIFF has to be Peter Mettler???s Petrolis.  Mettler, who was the cinematographer for Edward Burtynsky???s Manufactured Landscapes, takes on a directorial role on Petropolis, which visually documents the Alberta Tar Sands.  Given the massive scale of the project, the infrastructures, and the process, Mettler had few choices but to document the project from an aerial perspective.

[A giant earth mover transports earth mined at an open pit for processing to separate the bitumen. ?? Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]
[A giant earth mover transports earth mined at an open pit for processing to separate the bitumen. ?? Greenpeace / Eamon Mac Mahon]
The Canadian Tar Sands are the largest supplier of oil to the United States and the largest GHG emitters in Canada.  Located in northern Alberta, the Tar Sands consume over 140,000 square kilometers (or an area the size of England).  While the scale and sheer devastation to the landscape is incomprehensible, currently only three percent of the project (or 420 sq. km) has been carried out.  Increasing oil prices is attracting more investors to the Tar Sands.  Currently there are close to 100 projects planned, which total approximately $100 billion.

simultaneously beautiful and horrifying

Friday 18 September 2009

Evil People

???If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart???? Alexander Solzhenitsyn (who knew about evil)

it's not that we don't really earnestly try the old sift-and-gas approach, over and over and over. it's just that it don't ever work.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Finally! Coming To Theaters Oct. 23

Astro Boy is a boy robot who has to use his super-strength, x-ray vision, speed and flying ability to save the things and people he cares about. The new CGI (computer-generated images) Astro Boy movie will be coming to theaters this fall on October 23. Astro Boy will be voiced by Freddie Hightower and Nicholas Cage also lends his voice to the movie. The film is directed by David Bowers. Script by Timothy Harris. Astro Boy is produced by Summit Entertainment and is based on the Japanese anime cartoon character (below) created by Dr. Osamu Tezuka.

Been waiting hundreds of years for this.

Monday 14 September 2009

A Jazzin' the Schools How-To

This is a question I have asked myself and wondered why, only I was wondering why years and years ago when Electric Miles was tantamount to heresy; today it is the standard soundtrack of most TV:
instead of thinking the kids will thrill to some Count Basie, how about appealing to them through the jazz they’ve already been exposed to? Where’s something like the Alice Coltrane program? Where’s the weeklong Electric Miles events? Why aren’t we taking advantage of the bridges that already exist? There’s obviously nothing wrong with Basie but you’ve got reach people where they’re at, not where you want them to be. They’ll get to Basie in their own time, provided you win them over in the first place. As Teachout wrote, “Any symphony orchestra that thinks it can appeal to under-30 listeners by suggesting that they should like Schubert and Stravinsky has already lost the battle.

There is an old joke in mathematics that defines a 'recursive' procedure as follows:

  1. If you know the answer, say it
  2. if you don't, give these instructions to the nearest person who is one step closer to Douglas Hofstadter

We all learn and change incrementally. This method is standard procedure in the branches of psychology we call 'change work': you cannot jump from here to the finish without looking at where you are and taking a first step toward where it is you want to go. Even if you're not precisely sure where it is you are going until you get closer to it.


Saturday 12 September 2009

Fixing The Failure of Education

If you have kids, or if you care about the future of our civilization, and if you have not yet watched this video, watch it now.

Tragic as the content is, tragic and inhuman as the blatantly stated intended purpose of the original design of our 'modern' (sic) educational systems are, more tragic still is knowing how this demo reel is now nearly 5 years old and we still see this farce of classrooms, SAT test, lockdowns, hall-monitors, forced detainment and personal searches, calculated consumerism indoctrination, horrific food served up in dangerous toxic environments is nonetheless paraded about as if it did work, with all of us knowing full well that it doesn't.

Producer John Taylor Gatto is not, by himself, an engaging orator, but he is prepared, he is serious and he is earnest, and if you'd like hear his research, he's put it all out online in a multipart series of YouTube lectures:

if the video won't load, visit The Fourth Purpose at

It doesn't work. Sorry, Mr Wainwright, locking the door on the kids until the end of Grade 12 does not imply 'graduation'. The education system is a failure and everywhere in every direction we have the skyrocketing disenfranchisement of youth and the plummeting economy to prove it. Confining prisoners to their cells under threat of Bill 51 does not imply happy compliance.

The question, the real and pressing question, is how we get from this mess and muddle that we are currently entrenched in and move from this place to that other place, that place where human beings once again love learning, love improving the lot of their entire species, love the place that gives them life and security, love the prospects for the future.

As one of the kids in this promo says, the Old School "Fourth Purpose" way had 150 years to prove its worth, and it didn't materialize; I'm saying we either fix it, now, using methods we know already work in the small scale, we either work earnestly to fix it, or we prepare to pay the consequences.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Economics is not a Science

It's not nature. It's a game, with very particular rules, set in motion by real people with real purposes. That's why it's so amazing to me that scientists, and people calling themselves scientists, would propose to study the market as if it were some natural system ??? like the weather, or a coral reef.

It's not. It's a product not of nature but of engineering. And to treat the market as nature, as some product of purely evolutionary forces, is to deny ourselves access to its ongoing redesign. It's as if we woke up in a world where just one operating system was running on all our computers and, worse, we didn't realize that any other operating system ever did or could ever exist.

Historically, 'Economics' was coined by Malthus simply because numbers and equations had done so well for Newton in convincing authorities of physics and gravitation, they thought maybe it could lend some Divine Credence to the grand plan to convert all Common Land into Crown Land and all Free Serfs into Employees. It was a delightfully clever swindle. And it would have worked too, if those pesky kids hadn't got in the way ...

Friday 4 September 2009

Dymaxion Sleep

Sleep is just a bad habit. So said Socrates and Samuel Johnson, and so for years has thought grey-haired Richard Buckminster Fuller, futurific inventor of the Dymaxion* house (TIME, Aug. 22, 1932), the Dymaxion car and the Dymaxion globe. Fuller made a deliberate attempt to break the sleep habit, with excellent results. Last week he announced his Dymaxion system of sleeping. Two hours of sleep a day, he said firmly, is plenty.

Fuller reasoned that man has a primary store of energy, quickly replenished, and a secondary reserve (second wind) that takes longer to restore. Therefore, he thought, a man should be able to cut his rest periods shorter by relaxing as soon as he has used up his primary energy. Fuller trained himself to take a nap at the first sign of fatigue (Le., when his attention to his work began to wander). These intervals came about every six hours; after a half-hour's nap he was completely refreshed.

For two years Fuller thus averaged two hours of sleep in 24. Result: "The most vigorous and alert condition I have ever enjoyed." Life-insurance doctors who examined him found him sound as a nut. Eventually he had to quit because his schedule conflicted with that of his business associates, who insisted on sleeping like other men. Now working for the Foreign Economic Administration, Buckminster Fuller finds Dymaxion working and sleeping out of the question. But he wishes the nation's "key thinkers" could adopt his schedule; he is convinced it would shorten the war.

via Science: Dymaxion SleepTIME, Monday, Oct. 11, 1943

Today's pre-schoolyear study tip. See also

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Lester Young Centennial


Lester Young was born 100 years ago today (aug 27). He died just over 50 years ago, in March 1959.

Young is the most important link in the chain between early jazz and modern jazz.  He sounded good playing with both New Orleans-style musicians and beboppers. If he were around now he could probably go to Smalls tonight and sit in with whoever was on the bandstand without any problem.

While few other jazz musicians from the pre-1950 era continuously invented new phrases, serious Young lovers get every record he???s ever made because they know that there???s always the possibility that he will play something they haven???t heard before. In addition, Young had one of the most swinging beats in the history of the music.  And though he could deliver a honking, stomping tenor, even his most frantic outbursts sound curiously relaxed.  He never tried too hard or worked for the impossible.  He just was:  Cool.  

In fact, he may have literally invented the word ???cool??? and given it to the English language, for his verbal jousting and pre-beatnik beatnik behavior gave him a iconic mystique almost inseparable from the sounds coming out of his horn. The improvisation, the beat, the cool, and the mystique has made him one of the most well-loved musicians of the 20th century. These posts document my attempt to learn from Lester Young in the 21st.  

I ask the forbearance of dedicated Young fans and scholars. They are sure to find errors and incorrect assumptions in my work.  If I ever to decide to officially publish I promise to clean up all errata and double-check all suppositions. For now, this is just a private journey made public.  

  1. 18 with Lee K.
  2. Oh, Lady!
  3. Calling the Masters
  4. The Power of Vulnerability
  5. Miles Davis and Lester Young
  6. A Beginner???s Guide to the Master Takes
  7. The End and the Future
  8. Top and Bottom
  9. Footnotes
  10. Further Reading

posted Aug 27th, Ethan Iverson's tour of Prez is brilliant, thoughtful and thorough, a veritable complete education in the full spectrum of jazz encapsulated in the life of this one most amazing player. Sorry for including the whole clip, but I just didn't have the heart to snip it down.