ART | LITERATURE
Dan Colman | Open Culture
Jorge Luis Borges had many fascinations—detective novels, gauchos, libraries, and labyrinths. Two prominent figures that occupied his mind, the tango and mythical monsters, appear in drawings Borges made in his manuscripts. Of the tango, Borges did much to spread the idea that the sensual Argentine dance originated in brothels. In his drawing above of a tango-ing couple, he writes at the top (in Spanish): “The tango is a brothel dance. Of this I have no doubt.”
The drawing appears in a manuscript titled “The Old Argentine Habit,” penned in 1946 and published (as “Our Poor Individualism”) in Borges’ 1952 essay collection Other Inquisitions. According to C. Jared Lowenstein, the drawing is titled in German, “Die Hydra der Diktator” (“The Hydra of the Dictators”) and depicts Rosas, Peron, Mussolini, Hitler, and Marx and is signed “Jorge Luis Borges 46.”
Chris Maisano | Jacobin
The main lessons from The Discourses are that “the few always act in favor of the few,” and that the ambitions of the rich are so destructive that they must be vigorously suppressed in order to maintain the egalitarian foundations of republican liberty. His is a political vision with no place for superyachts, carried interest, tax breaks for luxury condo developments, or the legalized bribery of private campaign financing.
If you want to get an idea of just how much Machiavelli despised the 1% of his day look to Chapter 55 of The Discourses, in which he dispenses some of his most ruthless advice on how to maintain a well-ordered polity. As was his wont, Machiavelli points to the Germanic city-states as paragons of republican liberty. How did they maintain that enviable status? For starters, their hatred of the rich was pure. When a wealthy guy started flaunting it, they just killed him.
TRAFFIC | HUMAN NATURE
Tate Watkins | The Ümlaut
there are numerous examples of small European towns that did away with signal lights and traffic signs and, voila, traffic began to flow better, transit times decreased, and roadways became less dangerous for pedestrians and vehicle passengers alike. The absence of conventional rules improved outcomes.
The concept of a “shared space”—an area without traditional traffic signs, signals, or regulations that’s intended to be used by both cars and pedestrians—underpins many such traffic reforms. Humans don’t normally need formal rules to figure out how to navigate a crowded sidewalk, the logic goes, and isn’t everyone driving a car really just a pedestrian wrapped in a 3,000-pound potentially-lethal steel box? Backers of the Poynton intersection project near Manchester, England, note that “pedestrians in the shared-space scenario, when there are no lights to dictate behavior, are seen as fellow road-users rather than obstacles in the way of the next light.”
. . . Traffic in Port-au-Prince is horrifying. People do not yield to each other and spontaneously fall into an efficient order, as in England’s Poynton. In Haitian transit, people approach shared space as if they’re homesteaders on an Oklahoma land run. It’s every-man-for-himself, where every man is trying to grab every centimeter of available road space before someone else does. Instead of a free-flowing circle, a roundabout becomes an immobile tangle of tap-taps, traffic jams radiating in all directions.
Jonathan Chait | New York Magazine
. . . then the IRS inspector general, a Republican, reported that the entire program came from within the agency, with no direction at all from Obama or any members of his team. It was just an agency scandal. Subsequent revelations have made the matter look even more benign. Apparently, the agency also targeted liberal groups for possible violations, using terms like progressive to flag political groups. In other words, there may be no scandal here at all. The IRS was looking to make sure political groups weren’t abusing the tax code by pretending to be nonpolitical, and it tried to search for such abuses by using terms like tea party and progressive that would signal partisanship.
Why did we think the agency was targeting only conservatives? Because apparently Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, ordered the agency to audit its treatment of tea-party groups, and only tea-party groups. The IRS dutifully reported it was indeed targeting tea-party groups; everybody assumed it was doing no such thing to liberal groups. The IRS inspector general is defending its probe, but the IRS’s flagging of conservative groups seems, at worst, to be marginally stricter than its flagging of liberal groups, not the one-sided political witch hunt potrayed by early reports.
What about the rest of the scandals? Well, there aren’t any, and there never were.
Jonathan Chait | New York Magazine
For Greenwald, like for Nader, the evils of liberals loom far larger than the evils of conservatives. The most annoying question in the world is the one posed to them most frequently: Aren’t the Republicans worse? They are loath to give their critics the satisfaction of an affirmative response, which they fear will justify ignoring their urgent denunciations. So much of their intellectual energy is devoted to formulating complex chains of reasoning as to why just the opposite is true. “The only difference between [Gore and Bush] is the velocity at which their knees hit the floor,” said Nader. Greenwald insisted that “even if Obama is the lesser of two evils, he’s the more effective of two evils.” Statements like this make their putative allies more nervous, or even provokes them to break with them altogether. But this only convinces them all the more deeply of their uncorruptable virtue.
Digital Kitchen | Vimeo
For the epic digital landscape in LAX’s new Bradley International Terminal, we created engaging content at the intersection of sculpture, story and brand.
Digital Kitchen worked in collaboration with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Mike Rubin of MRA International, Marcela Sardi of Sardi Design, Moment Factory, Daktronics, Electrosonic, and Smart Monkeys, Inc
John Holbo | Crooked Timber
In terms of the history, this film goes with Metropolis. It was Wells’ response to Lang’s film, which he hated. It was supposed to do everything intellectually right that Lang did intellectually wrong. But, in the end, it wasn’t enough fun and Metropolis turned out to be closer to the template for sf film success (even though Metropolis itself stunk up the box office.)
Things To Come is a big budget sf extravaganza that rigorously refuses all the standard, easy satisfactions of the genre. It is a sleek modernist lumberyard of missed opportunities to have more fun, in service of a hare-brained high-concept. That concept is: liberal fascism triumphant! Why don’t we make a film about a bunch of arrogant know-it-all scientist-types who force regular people to behave themselves better – because the scientists know what works, and the regular folks have screwed up the planet! – and it actually works! And in the end there’s a right-wing talk radio uprising, but it is easily put down. Buncha yahoos! I kid you not, that’s the plot.
Stephen Fry | stephenfry.com
I don’t have Hamlet’s wit (or Shakespeare’s of course) but every logical or doubtful step from line to line expresses better how hard I thought about the advantages and cursed (as I thought) disadvantages against suicide. The speech, for the most part, stayed my hand. As it did Hamlet’s.
But medicine, much as some don’t like to hear it, can help. I am on a regime of four a day. One is an SNRI, the other a mood-stabilizer. I haven’t considered suicide in anything other than a puzzled intellectual way since this pharmaceutical regime “kicked in”.
But I can still be sad. Perhaps you might go to my tumblr page and see what Bertrand Russell wrote about his abiding passions (it’s the last section of the page). I can be sad for the same reason he was, though I do so much less about it than that great man did. But I can be sad for personal reasons because I am often forlorn, unhappy and lonely. These are qualities all humans suffer from and do not qualify (except in their worst extremes) as mental illnesses.
Lonely? I get invitation cards through the post almost every day. I shall be in the Royal Box at Wimbledon and I have serious and generous offers from friends asking me to join them in the South of France, Italy, Sicily, South Africa, British Columbia and America this summer. I have two months to start a book before I go off to Broadway for a run of Twelfth Night there.
I can read back that last sentence and see that, bipolar or not, if I’m under treatment and not actually depressed, what the fuck right do I have to be lonely, unhappy or forlorn? I don’t have the right. But there again I don’t have the right not to have those feelings. Feelings are not something to which one does or does not have rights.
CRICKET | DOCUMENTARY
“Warriors” is a documentary about the Maasai Cricket Warriors who, on the plains of Kenya, have dropped their spears for cricket bats and formed a cricket team. They now dream of playing in the Last Man Stands tournament in England – a pilgrimage of sorts to the ‘home of cricket’.
However, there is a darker heart to their journey. Their community is male-dominated, women have few rights – even to their own bodies – and HIV is both rife and stigmatised. In some cases children are married off in return for livestock or alcohol, and girls as young as 6 are circumcised. Indeed, beyond the initial pain & psychological trauma, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) causes considerable health problems and puts the girls at high-risk of infection.
These ‘Cricket Warriors’ feel education and change is the only way to secure the health of the community, provide equality to their society, and as a result protect their future. But this has been the Maasai way of life since the founder families, and the elders fear changing these traditions will herald the end of the Maasai. The struggle between identity, heritage, and development is something that resonates across the globe – even in the game of cricket itself.
Adam Liptak | The New York Times
Chief Justice Roberts has proved adept at persuading the court’s more liberal justices to join compromise opinions, allowing him to cite their concessions years later as the basis for closely divided and deeply polarizing conservative victories.
. . . On Tuesday, when the court struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice Roberts harvested seeds he had planted four years before. In his 2009 opinion, writing for eight justices, he allowed the Voting Rights Act to stand. But the price he exacted from the court’s liberal wing was language quoted in Tuesday’s decision that seems likely to ensure the demise of the law’s centerpiece, Section 5, which requires federal oversight of states with a history of discrimination.
The chief justice helped plant new seeds on Monday, when seven justices, including two liberals, agreed to sign an opinion that over time could restrict race-conscious admissions plans at colleges and universities. Only the senior member of the court’s liberal wing, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, filed a dissent.
CINEMA | BOOK REVIEW
From 1983 until just before his death, in 1985, at the age of seventy, Orson Welles met his friend, the director Henry Jaglom, for lunch nearly every week at the Hollywood restaurant Ma Maison. Welles was then in poor health and dire straits. He hadn’t completed a dramatic feature since “Chimes at Midnight,” in 1966. His essay-film “F for Fake,” an ironic self-portrait, from 1973, had failed commercially, and he was struggling—with the help of Jaglom, who was serving as a sort of agent—to find funding for films and, for that matter, to make a living. At Welles’s request, Jaglom recorded their conversations, the transcripts of which have now been edited by Peter Biskind in the new book “My Lunches with Orson.” “His only proviso,” Biskind explains in his introduction, “was that the recorder be out of sight, concealed in Jaglom’s bag, so he didn’t have to look at it.” Welles was obviously uninhibited by the invisible device: the book is a trove of classic-era Hollywood gossip. If it were only that, it would be, at best, candy; instead, it’s a treasure, both as a portrait of the artist and as a copious record of his ideas—it is, in fact, a key source for understanding Welles, the director and the man.
Here’s how I remember it: My friend Matt and I worked on the grounds crew at Marineland, an aquatic-themed amusement park in Niagara Falls, Ontario. We wheeled Dumpsters through the tourist hordes, emptying the trash cans, our knuckles stung by the wasps trapped inside.
One afternoon, our supervisor, Rod, approached on a yellow golf cart. We followed him to the Barn, a huge warehouse behind the stadium where the orcas, dolphins, and sea lions performed six times a day throughout the summer. He led us through a door into a room adjoining the stadium—the trainers’ space, usually off limits to us. I recall the overwhelming odour of a fishmonger’s stall. A whale swam in the quarantine pool, a cement bowl so small that the animal’s spine followed the curve of it.
To our right stood the sea lion pens. Inside one lay a dead sea lion. Our job: to drag it back to the Barn’s walk-in freezer.
AJ Artemel | Architizer
Rather than the themed sets from the mid-90s, which featured a large number of fairly standard and re-purposeable blocks (the Egyptian sets particularly come to mind), these new versions contain fewer variables and consist of mostly specialized pieces that only make sense to use in the context of that single set. They also read more as action figures than as participatory constructions, as if the focus were on playing with the finished item rather than on building it.
All this prompts us to question how strongly the company is adhering to the vision of its founder, who “believed that children should not be offered ready-made solutions.” This is where the strong form of “systemic creativity” comes in: the need to closely follow instructions introduces more constraints into the process of building. LEGO would say that this further guides decision-making, enhancing creativity by removing from consideration variables that should be incidental to the intended method of play. These sets, such as the Lord of the Rings series, set a similar tone to that of LEGO Architecure: that storylines, like building designs, should be imitated or taken as given.
Alasdair Allan | Make
Made from two layers of carbon fibre, with a foam core sandwiched between them for insulation to keep the water warm for longer, the Vessel from UK-based design firm Splinter Works is one of the most interesting bath tubs I’ve ever come across.
Designed for use in a wet room, and filled using a floor standing tap with the waste water released through the base into a floor drain, it is suspended from the walls and does not touch the floor at all. Yes, this is a bath that is also a hammock.
In a highly dense residential suburb of tokyo a tall slender facade of dark wooden lattice emerges from between two aging existing structures. Designed by Japanese practice Apollo Architects and Associates, the thin reinforced concrete framing system that makes up the home frees the interior from an imposing structure and allows a pilotis-style grid and spatial flexibility. At the center of the house, a thin staircase connects all the floors, reflecting the delicate nature of the latticed facade with its slender metal structure that seems to float through the light-filled floors. A skylight at the top of the stairwell emphasizes the importance of the vertical circulation and illuminates the elegant textures that make up the interior.
Handdriven wooden automata that shows a cat by the unsuccessful mousehunt. A similar automata from YouTube inspired me to this funny automata.
This project is a perfect beginner project, because the machine consists of a few parts and can be built in a relatively short time. You need no special tools.
Christopher Jobson | Colossal
Artist and illustrator Kevin LCK works almost exclusively in black and white, so it comes as no surprise that as he’s ventured into sculptural objects the aesthetic has remained the same, while the dimensions clearly haven’t. In his new series Ordinary Behavior the artist builds dioramas into everyday electronic objects made from cardboard such as a computer, camera, and iPhone.
IncandescentCloud.com | via Colossal
CLOUD CEILING is an interactive installation created by Canadian artists Wayne Garrett & Caitlind r.c. Brown (Calgary). Constructed from hand-bent steel, reflective mylar, electronics, motion sensors, LEDs, and 15,000 re-appropriated incandescent light bulbs, the piece is an permanent installation designed specifically for Progress Bar in Chicago. As bar patrons pass beneath the installation, they trip motion sensors within the CLOUD, creating “lightning” beneath the cumulous surface of light bulbs, mapping their progress through the space and the social “electricity” between people.
Roomer | Vimeo
Studio Roomer’s Monthly Animation Project
This animation is the prologue of the first project ‘MAP’ of Roomer & The Rock Diamond.
Nathan Myhrvold | Saveur
Deeply charred ground beef dripping juice onto a soft bun, melted cheese oozing over the edges—I’m obsessed with the American cheeseburger. At the culinary lab I run in Seattle, we decided to pay it a scientist’s tribute. After researching the chemistry behind the deliciousness of every component—the meat, cheese, bun, sauce—we uncovered methods for making the ultimate backyard burger, no weird science required. It starts with grinding the meat ourselves and ends with a special sauce that puts ketchup to shame.
My colleagues and I developed our “M.C. Special Sauce” in the lab to accompany a different recipe. When I tasted it, I thought, That’s McDonald’s special sauce! It’s fantastic on a burger.
Egg It On
Although I prefer my burgers without it, for a richer, more cohesive patty, add one egg yolk per pound of meat.
On the Grind
It’s convenient to get ground meat at the store, but it really tastes best when it’s fresh. If you’re a purist, you’ll grind each meat in your blend separately to achieve uniform texture, then combine.
Lots of cheeses that might taste great on a burger—Gruyère, Emmentaler—aren’t so great for melting because they separate when heated. Processed cheese, like American or Velveeta, contains emulsifiers which produce a luscious, even melt.
Salting meat causes it to extract a protein, myosin, which binds ground meat together. Mix salt into your meat one hour before grilling. For 26 ounces of ground beef, 1½ teaspoons of salt will do.
Nathan Myhrvold | Saveur
10 oz. boneless rib eye
10 oz. boneless short ribs
6 oz. hanger or skirt steak
1½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 egg yolks
¼ cup canola oil
1 small leek, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup dry vermouth
¼ cup finely chopped spicy cucumber pickles, plus 3 tsp. pickle juice from jar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
8 slices cheese such as white or yellow American
4 hamburger buns, lightly toasted
Lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and pickled jalapeños, for serving
1. Set up a meat grinder with a 3/16″ (4.5 mm) plate. Cut rib eye, short ribs, and hanger steak into 1″ pieces; grind meat separately. (Or ask your butcher to do this.) Mix meats with salt and egg yolks in a bowl; divide meat into 4 patties about 1″ thick and place on a plate. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
2. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and shallots; cook until soft, 6–8 minutes. Add cream and vermouth; simmer until thickened, 4–6 minutes. Stir in pickles, juice, mustard, and salt.
3. Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn off burner on one side. Grill burgers, flipping them once, until cooked to desired doneness, about 12 minutes for medium rare. Melt 2 slices cheese on each burger; serve on buns with sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapeños.
Sara Gunnarsgottir | Vimeo
The Pirate of Love is an animated documentary about an outsider musician, Daniel C.
A CD filled with love songs was circulating in my hometown Reykjavik, Iceland. The story goes that it was stolen from a man by the name of Daniel C, out of his locker by four co-workers who liked the music and made copies for themselves. Nobody really knows who he is. This is an oral history that follows one mans soulful songs of love, pride and loneliness.
On May 13th 2013 I recieved a message about Daniel C´s whereabouts.
The Pirate of Love Vol. II is in the making. Here you can buy a DVD of the films and in the way help me out a bit making the second part, where we get to know the real man behind the legend!
Jenn Pelly | Pitchfork
Living as city dwellers has Gun Outfit dreaming harder of the countryside, a sentiment Keith directly articulates with gentle, monotone rasp and gorgeous imagery on “My Love is Wanting Me”. Throughout the record, she sounds like a young Courtney Love covering weary, heartfelt country tunes. “The load you’re towing/ Is draggin’ you around,” Keith sings with sensitive perception on “High Price to Pay”. “Why don’t you unhitch it/ And find another way?” Even the choices of vocabulary are wonderfully evocative, channeling a line of road-worn blues that exudes Zen-like calm and collectedness, anchoring what much of this record is about.
At times, Keith and Sharp sing with gospel and blues-inflected twang and moan, conveying notions of gratitude and sorrow, strength and desperation, pride and confused paranoia. There’s more Lee Hazlewood than Calvin Johnson in Sharp’s straight-talking baritone, which fans of Silver Jews or Pavement will enjoy. One of Sharp’s most recurring topics– questioning the prevailing notions and worth of ambition, money, success, and work in general– are visited often on Hard Coming Down. As “Lau Blues” unfurls, Sharp’s stepping away from a hard situation and resisting those who suggest he get a job: “Gonna cast a download glance and/ Take a backward step,” he sings, “And I’ll call that dignity/ But you know what I mean.” This smart brand of cerebral slackerism is rare in guitar rock today, and refreshing.