July 30, 2013

Faced with unprecedented space battle, E.V.E. Online resorts to FSL's favorite Deus ex Machina

One of the largest video game space battles ever seen has taken place in the Eve Online game.

For five hours on 28 July about 4,000 players took part in the epic battle between two of the game's biggest alliances.

The two sides were fighting for control of resources within several of the game's solar systems.

Time was slowed down in the virtual universe to help servers cope with the huge numbers of players and ships.

July 27, 2013

Goings On In My Figure Classes

Insights into art education:  One of the artists in my Bollenbach Art Labs figure classes has been documenting his progress (as I terrorize the class with 10 second drawings) and describes some of my teaching process here, and earlier here. (repaired).

July 25, 2013

Capitol Hill. Dick's. Macklemore. Video Shoot. Cortez Kennedy Seahawks Jersery.

Tweeted by Dick's.  Seattle Level: 97.  I don't see any microbeer.

July 24, 2013

Flee in Dismay Before the Gates!

Richard Sherman's new column in Sports Illustrated.

"I was raised in a tough part of L.A. by two great parents, my mother, Beverly, and father, Kevin. I lived in Watts until I was about 14, then moved to Compton. My mom works with mentally disabled kids for the County of Los Angeles. My dad drives a trash truck.He still leaves the house at 4 in the morning to go out on his route. So I was raised understanding the value of hard work. My parents preached academics above all else."


"I remember reading The Iliad and loving it. You wouldn’t think a football player would be into Greek poetry about the Trojan War, but my parents gave me the greatest piece of knowledge when I was young: You can learn a lot if you’re willing to go outside your comfort zone."

And why would Richard Sherman like the Illiad?

Thus did (Hector) stand and ponder, but Achilles came up to him as it were

                            Mars himself, plumed lord of battle. From his right shoulder he
brandished his terrible spear of Pelian ash, and the bronze gleamed
around him like flashing fire or the rays of the rising sun. Fear fell

                            upon Hector as he beheld him, and he dared not stay longer where he
was but fled in dismay from before the gates, while Achilles darted
after him at his utmost speed. As a mountain falcon, swiftest of all

                            birds, swoops down upon some cowering dove- the dove flies before
him but the falcon with a shrill scream follows close after,
resolved to have her- even so did Achilles make straight for Hector

                            with all his might, while Hector fled under the Trojan wall as fast as
his limbs could take him.

July 23, 2013

One Party Rule in Seattle: Sweet!

Mayor McGuin, in a very contested race for mayor, pulls an excellent publicity stunt with consequences by asking about Whole Foods' expansion plans while their wages are some of the worst in the grocery industry. It's the kind of stunt that in a rapidly expanding local economy is long, long overdue. Whether he's right or not, this the kind of debate we should be having, instead of wasting all political capital on a 30 year avalanche of bullshit about making rich people richer at any and every cost. A lot of moderates spend a lot of time worrying what happens when Republicans are shut out of the political conversation. In the City of Seattle, where unemployment is now under 5%, what happens is we can ask the right questions about labor, the environment, education, investment, ethics, justice, policing, public design, the character of modern life, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Generally the Democratic Party is becoming a kind of home for a center-left pro-business, greenish development party, there is a solid, unorganized, but cooperative left-wing laborish green opposition, and the Republicans are wringing their hands and taking what they're offered and pouting and moving to Bellevue; but even that isn't far enough anymore. The creative business energy here, driven especially by vast investments in higher public education over many years, has given us the power to say: you want access to our creative skills, infrastructure and markets? Deal with reasonable labor and environmental regulations! Is it a little boring having to work with complex policy solutions rather than a constant reactionary panic over pointless distractions and crypto-fascist ideology? Yes.

As a very general rule, one-ish party rule is working well here, and a bit unlike San Francisco, overall we've got a fairly honest, rather more ethical grounding in our institutions than in most places. It was hard won over decades. If you can name a generally more ethical civic environment, I'd like to hear of it. Even Canada doesn't always measure up.

I don't see a downside for quite a while- eventually, the house will have to be cleaned, as it should- stagnation is a risk, but house cleaning doesn't have to come from the crypto-fascists. McGuin himself - not exactly Mr. Charming Pants - has been a good nose tweaker for the political class, as marked by half a dozen opponents who are all complaining about his style, but almost no one about his substance. We've got a functioning social contract and it works. As for the GOP? Destroy them as best you can. Nothing else matters as much. Victory works great.

July 22, 2013

Well, That Escalated Quickly

First 30 Seconds of the Untouchables, Head of Fire, Feat of Clay By the way, this is a damned interesting and surprising episode.

July 20, 2013

OMG Marxism II

The 1% in Cuba: Painters.

July 18, 2013

OMG Marxism

It's a short interview from Counterpunch, so, you know (usually about as charming as finding Noam Chomsky at a $1 kissing booth) but I was impressed by Prof. Wolf's metaphor of Silicon Valley and a grander remake of the U.S. Economy. - FSL

ER: So if workers could establish cooperatives under fascism, could they do so under a so-called representative form of government, like in the U.S.?  
(I, like you, exhale a sigh of exasperation at the tone of that question, even if there is meat to the point, but press on. -FSL)

RW: Absolutely. It should be much easier. In fact, it is much easier. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of these worker co-ops or producer co-ops… Many companies, including famous names like Apple computers, if you go back and look at the early days you may be surprised to find out that they were co-ops. The original founders were often workers dissatisfied by being mere employees in somebody’s company, so they got together with others, often at young ages, and pooled their enthusiasm and energy and setup a different kind of enterprise. Very common in Silicon Valley. Every year, hundreds, in some years thousands, of engineers quit their jobs in big companies like IBM, Oracle or Cisco, and get together with friends and say, “okay, we want to start a different kind of business. We’re all going to take our laptops and gather at Harry’s garage, and here’s what we want: We don’t want to come to work every day in a suit and tie or for some executive who doesn’t understand anything about computers telling us what to do. We don’t want any of the rigmarole; it’s stifling, it kills our creativity. We’d like to go to a place where there are no bosses, where we’re all equal. Where we can wear Hawaiian shirts and Bermuda shorts and bring our toddlers.”

(I heard the full lecture at Alternative Radio - the anecdote was that he was talking to all these guys, who were often Republicans, and watching their faces as he pointed out that this competive system of work, cooperatively and democratically organized, was the precise dream of Karl Marx. -FSL)

And that’s what they’ve done. And in many cases they’ve been very strict: All decisions have to be made by consensus. Everybody is equal. No chiefs, no Indians, we’re all equal here… Nothing would more quickly and definitively reduce U.S. income inequality than allowing every worker in all businesses to participate in deciding the range of incomes from one worker to another. They would never — except in the most bizarre circumstances I can’t even imagine — do what is now a matter of normality, give one person millions, in some cases billions, while others have barely enough to make a living. Moving to a cooperatively organized enterprise is one of the best ways to really do something about unequal distribution of wealth.

In America we debate everything: Education, sexuality, etc. — except for asking critical questions about capitalism… If there’s an institution in your society that’s above criticism you’re giving it a free pass to indulge all of its weaknesses and darker tendencies. In part the crisis we’re in now has to do with the inability of our society to face up to the fact that capitalism has its strength, but it also has its weaknesses. It has its time of growth and its time of shriveling and dying. And an honest, healthy society would never shrink away from debating where we’re at with capitalism — can we do better? How might that work?

July 16, 2013

How to Crime Show, Or When to Talk

Two crime tv shows.  First, the first three minutes of a recent episode, Dead Air, of a currently very popular crime show on CBS, CSI.

And now, the 30 second opening of the 1959 CBS show, the Untouchables, Ain't We Got Fun. (link repaired)

Compare and contrast.

Shower Rock Mystery

Concerning the shower rock.

Elizabeth Warren Schools the Tools

Oh CNBC. You putzes.

July 15, 2013

Proper Use of the Teaching Baton

July 14, 2013

The black heart of a Dutch forest

In Tilburg, next to the great university, there is a dark, beautiful forest called De Oude Warande.  Once a royal forest of some kind, roads and paths are laid out in star pattern superimposed on a series of squares inscribed within the outer boundary:


It is different from the forests of Alaska (no bears) or the Lower 48 (no deer hunters), and different again from the highly cultivated parklands you see in the U.K.  De Oude Warande isn't wild, really, although some wild animals undoubtedly live there.  It's park-like, although not strictly groomed or cultivated.  It wasn't hard to find a quiet place there to do my tai chi exercises, that morning last November:

De Oude Warande seemed worn to me, or (perhaps I am reading too much into it) even careworn, and walking down its roads, thoughts of European history weighed heavily upon me:

As I wandered before my seminar I thought of some of the bad forests of Europe: Katyn, for example, or Kampinos, the ancient forest west of Warsaw where they murdered poor Przepiórka, among many others.  Or, if you are German, there was the mad waste of the Ardennes offensive, and the terrible, pointless fight in the Spreewald, right at the end of the war.  This is deep in the German psyche, right back to Hansel and Gretel, although one could argue that the German warrior spirit first came of age when the tribes met the Romans im Teutoburger Wald.

And as I approached the center of that somber vale, I saw in the distance a dark geometric structure, subdued, mournful, standing in silent testament to some unknown sorrow.

Turns out it's a nice coffee shop, called The Grotto.  The girl was very nice, and the coffee was delicious.

The rest of my walk was uneventful.

Have I mentioned Pokey?

Bunch of album cuts here, but hey you rich people, buy the album!

Note to self: monitor WAMU

Just so I don't lose track of it

I use this graphic to explain my childhood to my family.

It's happening - chess is taking its place as a premier sport

Play along here!

July 13, 2013

The rich are different from you and me


Flameout? Flame on!

A year ago, Tim Lincecum lurched into the All-Star break as the worst pitcher in the majors by ERA. This year, he will be basking in history.

With thousands of Giants fans screaming for him at Petco Park, and armed with the swing-and-miss stuff that earned him two Cy Youngs, Lincecum on Saturday night became the 15th Giant to throw a no-hitter, the first since Matt Cain’s perfect game last year.


Helpful infographic

NFL arrests since 2000.


He says he was misunderstood (move along citizen)

A story by Kevin Barrett on PressTV.ir has interpreted the study as showing that conspiracists are “more sane” than conventionalists, and, given that this is an appealing headline for long-suffering conspiracists, has been copy-pasted around the Internet in a highly uncritical fashion. 


Inadvertently deep

This Guardian article (link) does something very worthwhile, pointing out popular movies critics hated, and unpopular movies they loved.  It goes on to name names, point out which actors seem to be critics' pets (Jeff Bridges, Bruce Dern) and which ones are actually liked by audiences (Ice Cube, Martin Lawrence).  And then, we move on (bwah hah hah!) to directors...  Guess which group prefers Joel Schumacher?  And which really likes Keenan Ivory Wayans?

Keenan is of course is no stranger to critical discourse himself, and was not unconnected with the apex of critical achievement of the past century.

July 12, 2013

Whole lot of Pokey going on

July 11, 2013

The other Bob Wills

July 10, 2013

The Impeccable Pokey LaFarge

More on Pokey here.

Green light on Redshirts

I've finished about 1/3 of John Scalzi's Redshirts, as recommended on this very blog by the Sum of All Monkeys.  It is not for everybody, but it is certainly for me, and probably you too.  It is a romp, and a hoot (a homp, perhaps?).

So far it's Star Trek meets Catch-22, but if I were a betting man, I'd bet on some Matrix influence in the chapters to come, as well.  Three excerpts:
“I understand you spent several years on Forshan, and that you speak the language,” Q’eeng said. “All four dialects.”

“Yes, sir,” Dahl said.
“I studied it briefly at the Academy,” Q’eeng said, and then cleared his throat. “Aaachka faaachklalhach ghalall chkalalal.”
Dahl kept his face very still. Q’eeng had just attempted in the third dialect the traditional rightward schism greeting of “I offer you the bread of life,” but his phrasing and accent had transmuted the statement into“Let us violate cakes together.”  Leaving aside the fact it would be highly unusual for a member of the rightward schism to voluntarily speak the third dialect, it being the native dialect of the founder of the leftward schism and therefore traditionally eschewed, mutual cake violating was not an accepted practice anywhere on Forshan.
“Aaachkla faaachklalhalu faadalalu chkalalal,” Dahl said, returning the correct traditional response of “I break the bread of life with you” in the third dialect.
“Did I say that correctly?” Q’eeng asked.

“Your accent is very unusual, sir,” Dahl said.
“Indeed,” Q’eeng said. “Then perhaps I will leave any necessary Forshan speaking to you.” 

Dahl weaved through the trees, screaming for Q’eeng and Taylor. Some part of his brain wanted to know if he was running in the right direction; another part wanted to know why he wasn’t using his phone to contact Q’eeng. A third part reminded him that he had a pulse gun of his own, which might be effective against whatever was currently eating Cassaway and Mbeke.  
A fourth part of his brain was saying, This is the part where you run and scream a lot. He was listening to the fourth part.

(Dahl really should know by now that the pulse guns never work.)


“How is he?” Abernathy asked, as Dahl lifted him.  
“Banged up,” Dahl said. “But I think he’ll live.”  
“Well, good,” Abernathy said. “That’s more than I can say for the last weapons specialist. Or the one before that.

MacPherson Calendar, Found in Attic & Given to Me By A Student, Untouched Since WWII


The Artist's Studio! Mental Mecca of the meandering male: envied sanctuary of the knowing few. An earthly Eden holding the fascination of the unknown, the temptation of the forbidden, the lure of the possible and the charm of the probable. Home is no place like this – but it should be!

Formula for happy husbands? Prescription for contented males? Give every man his own studio. A place to let imagination rome, to loose the bonds the bonds of fancy and wander, a free spirit in Elysian fields. Every man his own fountain of youth. So -

Herewith for the gentleman connisseur, a delectable serving of delightful femininity from the sketch pad of Earl MacPherson whose gorgeous girls have become the most prized bits of modern Americana. Guaranteed to convert the most austere of male quarters into a Mohammedan's idea of Heaven. These captivating creatures have zip, zest, and zoom that will positively banish the blues, race the pulse, and boom the blood pressure. Here, for your enjoyment, twelve tantilizing treasures. Make of them what you will.

Howard-Cooper Corporation

-An epically sexist, cheeseball introduction to this original calendar.  MacPherson was quite a well-known calendar artist, clearly inspired the troops, and the jaw-dropping copy above that makes Mad Men look like a seminar at Evergreen College was probably not his fault. The art studio themes in the pin-up illustrations are priceless. 

July 08, 2013

On the subject of cops...

This is what a hero looks like.

A comment: three variations on a theme, and a proposed aphorism

Variation #1 - You have a party.  700 people show up, followed by 18 police departments.  No one is hurt, no one is arrested, and, arguably, a good time is had by all.  Legen...(wait for it)...dary!  Enjoyable Fark thread is here.

Variation #2 - You make a modest football bet in a bar.  This leads to an undercover investigation with the intent to entrap you, culminating in a SWAT raid in which an officer shoots you and kills you.  Although this case was 'resolved' with a cash payment of $2 mm, known to the Afghans as "blood money", I personally would prefer that we adhere to our own ancient laws and customs, rather than adopting those of desert nomad warriors, however valorous they may be.

Variation #3 - You go to the store to buy LaCroix water.  As you walk out to the parking lot, seven people in regular clothes approach, and, without identifying themselves, tell you to come with them.  You flee.  Pulled over by a uniformed police officer, you spend the night in jail for your insolence.  Various felony charges are later dropped.

Aphorism:  Let's make the cops straighter before we make them stronger.

PS - Don't try to find me, I'm behind six anonymous proxies.

July 06, 2013

Spacin' ain't easy

Constitution Class Starships (via Wikipedia)

USS ConstellationNCC-1017Commanded by Commodore Matthew Decker. Scuttled to destroy a planet-eating machine.[30]
USS ConstitutionNCC-1700"Class Leader" - First ship in class upon which all Constitution-class vessels are based.
USS DefiantNCC-1764Taken to Mirror Universe by Tholians, in "The Tholian Web".[31] Captured by crew of ISS Enterprise (NX-01) and used in service of the Terran Empire, in "In a Mirror, Darkly".[32]
ISS EnterpriseNCC-1701Mirror Universe version of the USS Enterprise, in "Mirror, Mirror".[33]
USS EnterpriseNCC-1701Originally commanded by Robert April (2245–2250) Christopher Pike (2250–2265) James T. Kirk (2265-2270, 2271–2285) Willard Decker (2270-2271) (ship's stint during refit up to V'Ger incident). Spock (ship's stint as academy training vessel and during the Khan Noonien Singh incident 2282-2285) Vessel's self-destruction carried out while in orbit of the Genesis Planet, to prevent ship from falling into Klingon hands.[34]
USS Enterprise(Alternate timeline created by Nero)NCC-1701Originally commanded by Christopher Pike (launched 2258), then James T Kirk.[35]
USS ExcaliburNCC-1664[1]Severely damaged, and crew killed, during Richard Daystrom's M5 computer test.[36]
USS ExeterNCC-1672[1]All crew lost killed by alien disease except Caption Ronald Tracey who was on the planet surface when the disease struck the crew Captain Tracey was arrested after fight with Captain James T Kirk for violation of the Prime Directive.[37]
USS FarragutNCC-1647[1]Ship on which James Kirk served as a phaser station operator.[38] Attacked by the Dikironium Cloud Creature, killing half the crew.[38]
In the 2009 movie, Nyota Uhura was originally assigned to the USS Farragut but she argued with Spock to be transferred to the USS Enterprise instead. The ship never appeared on screen and was never given a class or registry number; both come from the Star Trek Encyclopedia.[1]
USS HoodNCC-1703[1]Participates in Richard Daystrom's M5 computer test.[36]
USS IntrepidNCC-1631[1]All-Vulcan crew killed by a giant, spacegoing single-celled animal.[39]
USS LexingtonNCC-1709[1]Participates in Richard Daystrom's M5 computer test.[36]
USS PotemkinNCC-1657[1]Participates in Richard Daystrom's M5 computer test.[36]
USS YorktownNCC-1717.Disabled by alien probe.[40]
USS PegasusNCC-1702.Patrolled the Klingon neutral zone.[41