Thursday, December 10, 2009

Entry: Georgia Guidestones

This article was sent to me by friend of the blog SeeASea.

If you ever find yourself in Georgia and feel like taking a road trip, how about checking out the Georgia Guidestones? Some guy had them erected (hee!) in 1980; sometimes referred to as the American Stonehenge, the guidestones consist of six granite slabs with ten guidelines for a better world, written in eight different languages.

Humanity does a pretty good job of following rules written on stone slabs, right? Let's see how we've been doing with this bunch:

Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.
Unite humanity with a living new language.
Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.
Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
Balance personal rights with social duties.
Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.
Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.

Well... there's the United Nations... and Esperanto... so... we're screwed. Although if we kill off 11 out of 12 people, we might be okay. (Consider my finger on my nose for this one.)

Not to mention that some people are apparently really super grumpy that there's a fancy new set of ten rules chiseled into stone strutting around, competing with the older set of ten rules. Seems like the same people who always get their panties in a twist regarding environmental messages, too. Did their moms not yell at them to keep their rooms clean or something?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Entry: Ghost-riding

Perhaps this blog relies overly much on the cracks that Wikipedia breaks in my white, middle-class perspective on the world. It happens all the freaking time, though! And like the Minister of Cliches once said, "Write what you know." And what I know is that I'm very prone to doubletakes, followed by exclaiming "People do that?!" in a shrill voice.

Take ghost riding the whip, for example:

...when a person puts a car with an automatic transmission in drive or allows it to idle and then the driver (and passengers) of a vehicle exit while it is still rolling and dance beside it or on the hood or roof.

Ghost riding is an activity that has been practiced in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years during what are called sydeshows. The popularization of ghost riding the whip is a byproduct of the popularity of Bay Area music and hyphy culture in general.

Now, I'm not personally familiar with hyphy culture, but it would seem to me that the majority of ghost-riders do not (a) ghost-ride golf carts, (b) ghost-ride at what appear to be summer camps, (c) wear yarmulkes. And yet, the Wiki article gives us this photo as illustration:

Don't make this more confusing for me than it already is, Wikipedia.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Entry: Andre the Giant Has a Posse

This kinda blew my mind. It was one of those instances where you see something, and you don't know what it is, and it turns out to be a random configuration of stuff that you already knew about. Although, if you know what molecules are, then pretty much everything falls into that category, but you're a smart group, I'm a lazy writer, you know what I mean.

So I had seen these stickers around in the public sphere, slapped to various large objects:

And I never paid them much mind. Until I stumbled upon the sticker's Wiki article! (Well, I didn't literally StumbleUpon the article, my friend and I were having a discussion about culture jamming and you don't care at all.)

Those stickers are a portrait of Andre the Giant (aka Fezzig from The Princess Bride), as created by Shepard Fairey (aka the guy who did the Obama "Hope" poster). And the "OBEY" is a reference to They Live (aka the movie with the guy with the crazy sunglasses). It's a crazy pop culture golem! My favorite kind of golem.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Entry: Lady Gaga

Hi there, cats and kittens, long time no see! I won't get into why this post is so late; it seems much more fun to leave you to your assumptions. (Hint: if you assumed "drunk in a gutter," you're on the right track!)

Speaking of assumptions: when you hear about how one pop star began her career (e.g. backup dancer, Mousketeer, relative of someone important), you start to assume that everyone in that profession had a similar start. And by "similar start," I mean "they're okay to look at and generally got very lucky." Which is why I was surprised to read this about Lady Gaga:

Playing piano by ear from the age of 4, she went on to write her first piano ballad at 13 and began performing at open mike nights by age 14. At age 17, she gained early admission to the New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. There, she studied music and improved her songwriting skills by composing essays and analytical papers focusing on topics such as art, religion and socio-political order.
which is pretty much the last thing I ever expected to read in her Wiki article. It is comforting to know that at least one pop tart got famous through hard work and study. Or, studying until dropping out of school to pursue her career, but she's two years younger than me and has a number one album, so who made the right decision?

And honestly, being part of the New York art scene probably goes a long way to explain this:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Entry: List of Music Genome Project attributes

Prepared to lose an entire afternoon to this one, space cadets.

Like all cool kids, I utilize Pandora now and then to expand my musical horizons. Oftentimes, however, I go to look up the attributes of my stations and have no idea what the hell any of them mean. For instance, I'm apparently really super into "extensive vamping." And, until I turned to the Wik', I had no idea what that was. Basically, it means I'm a simpleminded twit who likes to hear the same thing repeated many, many times in the span of four minutes or so. Also recurring: "major key tonality" AND "minor key tonality." I'm such a fencesitter.

But perhaps your taste in music is overly specific, and you've wondered to yourself: what other musical attributes that I don't care for are floating around in the aether? Thanks Wiki. You've really outdone yourself this time.

Here are some highlights:

"Backbeat Hand Claps." Specifically hand claps. No drums, no footstomping.
"Blazin' Rappin'"/"Tight Lyrics". Perhaps my dorkiness is preventing me from understanding exactly what this term means, but doesn't that seem a little subjective for something calling itself a "Genome Project"?
"Lyrics with Heavy Erotic Content". Is there a subgenre of this that I don't know about? Don't get me wrong, I'm hip, I listen to Serge Gainsbourg... but I can't imagine not wanting to laugh my ass off at lyrics with heavy erotic content.
"Mystical Qualities". One of the backup singers is a unicorn, say.
"Sexist Lyrics". Okay, as a member of the group that usually gets the short end of the stick when it comes to sexism, I'm biased. But why the hell would someone actively seek this out as a quality of music?
"Use of Dirty-Sounding Organs". What, like a rectum?
"Vinyl Ambience". Just throwing it out there as a name for a drag queen act. Think about it, girls.

If anyone has any information as to which bands or songs embody the aforementioned, please let us know.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Entry: the Watusi

In true Bader-Meinhoff fashion, I got in a discussion about this with my friends at dinner last night, and then again with my coworker this afternoon. Anywho.

I wish to attend a function where there will be dancing, but find myself lacking proper instruction for an obsolete and spastic-looking move! O Wikipedia, can you help me?

In the classic Watusi, the dancer is almost stationary with knees slightly bent, although may advance forward and back by one or two small rhythmic paces. The arms, with palms flat in line, are held almost straight, alternately flail up and down in the vertical. The head is kept in line with the upper torso but may bob slightly to accentuate the arm flailing.

That's a good start, but my flailing feels a bit stiff and rehearsed. Perhaps, Wikipedia, perhaps you could help me to better embody the spirit of the Watusi...

The dance, which became popular in the American surf/beach sub-culture of 1960s, may be enhanced if one imagines that ones feet are on sand.

Thank you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Entry: Posthumous execution

This link was sent to me by Erin... via iPhone. That's right, you can send me links even when you aren't sitting in front of your computer like a dork. Learn from Erin's example.

History has presented us with numerous cases, from different parts of the world, where a corpse has been ritually "killed" a second time. Because... people are dumb?

Some of these cases are understandable, like Vlad the Imapler, "who was beheaded following his assassination." You don't want to make a mistake and have that guy coming after you because you didn't kill him properly. Or Gerard Butler, who was beheaded and crucified after he died at the end of that movie. They were pretty grumpy with him, boy howdy, and desecrating a corpse can be a good method of working out those issues.

Some of them, however, are just ridiculous. "John Wycliffe (1328–1384), was burned as a heretic 45 years after he died." Why? This was the 14th century, nobody lived past 18! Nobody! Why would you get mad enough at some guy who was talking smack about Jesus to your grandfather to dig up and burn his corpse? There weren't any other live heretics running around to burn? Or at least more recently deceased heretics? I am so glad that I have Twitter to distract me from doing stupid crap like this.

There's also the dramatic example of Oliver Cromwell, whose corpse was exhumed, then hanged, drawn and quartered, and tossed into a pit sans head. His head was later given a burial in 1960. Lesson learned: don't try to kill your monarch. This also leads us to one of the best out-of-context sentences on the Wik: "See also Oliver Cromwell's head." He's so historically relevant, his dismembered body part has its own Wikipedia article!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Entry: Tsutomu Yamaguchi

So, how's your Monday been going? Get stuck in traffic? Forget your lunch at home?

"Yamaguchi, an engineer in Hiroshima on a business trip for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on August 6, 1945 was just stepping off a tram when the atomic bomb Little Boy was dropped over the city just 3 kilometers away. The resulting explosion destroyed his eardrums, blinded him temporarily, and left him with serious burns over the left side of the top half of his body. He was wrapped in bandages for his skin wounds, and he went completely bald. Like many of the survivors of the atomic explosions, Yamaguchi suffered from effects caused by the explosions for much of his life. His wife was also poisoned by the nuclear fallout. Yamaguchi spent a fitful night in an air raid shelter before returning to his hometown of Nagasaki the following day. Yamaguchi was once again 3 kilometers away explaining to his supervisor how close he came to death just a few days before when the second bomb, Fat Man, was dropped."

Not only did he survive two nuclear explosions-- in fact, Yamaguchi is still alive-- but he wrote a book about his experience and is an activist for nuclear disarmament. Instead of, you know, in a padded room somewhere still trying to deal with the psychological implications of being in two nuclear explosions in three days. That's the truly amazing part, to me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Entry: High Five

This entry is a guest entry, which comes to me from Kirk, aka # μ from DO-xiii. Do you enjoy video games? How about laughter? ...wait, neither? What the hell is wrong with you? Check out Disorganization XIII anyway... freaking weirdo.

I found out about the entry for high-five via reddit, since I too an a lover of narwhals and bacon and recycled shit from /b/.

The high-five article is one of those articles that you think you know everything about, but goes on to surprise you. Part of what makes it awesome is entries for historically significant high-fives, such as the Jackson Five. But most of it is due to the awesome illustrative pictures explaining the "Too Slow" prank.

Not only is this series of pictures hilariously entertaining, they're an inspiration to us all to make Wikipedia a brighter place. Think of how many of the average digicam pictures merely contain a couch full of inebriated people, or a high-angle shot in someone's bathroom. If you're one of the cool kids, you'll devote at least a few of these pictures to contributing to an open-source internet encyclopedia. Actually, scratch that last sentence.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Entry: Twitterpated

For today's entry, we make a rare safari into the jungles of Wiktionary. Exciting, I know!

I've been familiar with the word "twitterpated" to mean lovestruck, but I was not aware that the first usage of the term was the movie Bambi. Let's all thank our lucky stars that we have monolithic entertainment corporations to embiggen our collective vocabulary.

Bambi was released in 1942 and the book it was based on, the dynamically titled Bambi, a Life in the Woods was published in 1923; so I suppose this would make "twitterpated" a neologism. But then again, what's the expiration date on a term being a neologism? Twitterpated has been around for at least 67 years; there are certainly many people still alive who were around before the advent of the word-- and oh what a dark and wretched time it was, only being able to describe someone as "besotted" or "smitten"-- but it's still a word that gained popular use through a movie, which, relative to the history of language is pretty cutting edge. So does that mean it's a paleoneologism? Destined in a few decades to become a simple word before retiring to Boca Raton with (obsolete) tacked onto the beginning of its definition?