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Douglas Coupland's depressing next ten years

Douglas Coupland's "Radical pessimist's guide to the next 10 years," from this weekend's Globe and Mail is a thought-provoking (and somewhat depressing) exercise in linear predictions based on peak oil, rampant financialist malfeasance and climate change:
1) It's going to get worse
No silver linings and no lemonade. The elevator only goes down. The bright note is that the elevator will, at some point, stop.

2) The future isn't going to feel futuristic
It's simply going to feel weird and out-of-control-ish, the way it does now, because too many things are changing too quickly. The reason the future feels odd is because of its unpredictability. If the future didn't feel weirdly unexpected, then something would be wrong.

3) The future is going to happen no matter what we do. The future will feel even faster than it does now
The next sets of triumphing technologies are going to happen, no matter who invents them or where or how. Not that technology alone dictates the future, but in the end it always leaves its mark. The only unknown factor is the pace at which new technologies will appear. This technological determinism, with its sense of constantly awaiting a new era-changing technology every day, is one of the hallmarks of the next decade...

6) The middle class is over. It's not coming back
Remember travel agents? Remember how they just kind of vanished one day? That's where all the other jobs that once made us middle-class are going - to that same, magical, class-killing, job-sucking wormhole into which travel-agency jobs vanished, never to return. However, this won't stop people from self-identifying as middle-class, and as the years pass we'll be entering a replay of the antebellum South, when people defined themselves by the social status of their ancestors three generations back. Enjoy the new monoclass!

A radical pessimist's guide to the next 10 years (Thanks, , via Submitterator)

Photo series: woman at the shooting gallery, 1937-2008

Here is an annual photo series of Ria van Dijk, a Dutch woman, staring down the scope of a rifle at her local fair's shooting gallery. The series commences in 1937, when she was 15, and runs through to 2008, when she is 88 (there are no pictures between 1939 and 1945, of course).

in almost every picture #7 (via Neatorama)

Carmex packaging redesign will save the planet

 Wp-Content Uploads 2010 09 New-Carmex-Packaging

Carmex, the crack cocaine of lip balm products, announced a new packaging design that uses 20% less plastic. It's now evident how stingy Carmex is with their semi-liquid gold, too. If they haven't changed the tooling yet, I would like to suggest a superior design:


In the meantime, I think I'll order glass jars of the stuff directly from Carma Labs:

For those of you diehard jarheads who are longing for the opal glass jars of days gone by (we stopped shipping those in 1996), you can still order those directly from Carma Labs. The minimum order is 12 jars ($24; includes shipping). If you are interested, please call 1-414-421-7707.

Carmex Jar Goes Green (Via Doobybrain)

Happy Birthday, John Lennon

 Images Gallery John-Lennon-Lg Imagine peace.
Drew Friedman illustration

Why using movie clips in a political ad exposing paid actors masquerading as steelworkers is fair use

Republican Ohio Congressman John Kasich released a video showing an actor dressed as a steelworker, pretending to be an average local citizen who was upset with Democrat Governor Ted Strickland's performance. The Ohio Democratic Party countered by putting up a YouTube video showing that the "steelworker" was actually a paid actor called Chip Redden, illustrating the claim with clips from Redden's career.

But Arginate Studios, LLC, one of the production companies responsible for one of the Redden film clips, objected to the use of the clip, and had the video removed from YouTube with a copyright claim. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Kurt Opsahl explains,

As an initial matter, the use is extremely transformative (adding new meaning and message). The original video by Arginate is an entry in a film festival's "Road Movie" genre, featuring Redden as Sam Carpenter, a man who provides some special tickets to two women in a bar. The political video's use, on the other hand, was to provide evidence that the supposed steelworker was actually a paid actor. The use could hardly be more transformative. As the Supreme Court explained, transformative works "lie at the heart of the fair use doctrine's guarantee of breathing space within the confines of copyright."

Moreover, the political ad only used a few seconds of the original film. While courts have held that "entire verbatim reproductions are justifiable where the purpose of the work differs from the original," a fair use is particularly justifiable when it uses the minimum necessary to make its point.

Since the original remains available for free online, it can hardly be said that there is any harm to the market for the original work. As the Supreme Court said, "a use that has no demonstrable effect upon the potential market for, or the value of, the copyrighted work need not be prohibited in order to protect the author's incentive to create."

Finally, fair use analysis considers whether the new work benefits the public interest. Communicating with the public about an upcoming election is a core aspect of public debates, and the new video contributes to that debate.

Copyright Abuse in Ohio Governor Election

Lou Dobbs douchebag level upgraded from "racist blowhard" to "totally hypocritical racist blowhard"

The Nation reports that former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, who railed daily on television against evil illegal immigrants from Latin America and their evil employers, was apparently an exploiter of undocumented laborers from from Guatemala and Mexico. $8/hr, sin papeles y sin derechos.

Being Dead in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s weird geography means that you never know quite what lies underfoot. Old maps and folk history reveal the forgotten graveyards hidden beneath asphalt and office blocks — or reclaimed by nature.

Read the rest

Coffee of the month from my favorite London roasters, Square Mile

The wonderful coffee roasters at London's Square Mile do a coffee-of-the-month subscription, through which they'll send you about a pound of their favorite blends (including pre-release blends) through the post, every month. Most of the really good coffee in London is roasted at Square Mile, and they're exceedingly nice people, too. I've just signed up for a whole year (and, full disclosure, I've been recycling some of their old burlap coffee sacks as packing materials, and they're not charging me for them).
What coffees will we send?

It will be the coffee that we are most excited about at that time and will be roasted for filter brewing, as opposed to espresso. It might be the latest Cup of Excellence, a new micro lot or just something we're excited to share! Monthly subscriptions will ship on the first Thursday of every month.

Twelve Month Subscription (UK)

Kim Stanley Robinson, Terry Bisson and Gary Phillips: LA, Oct 13 -- revolution and science fiction

Kim Stanley Robinson, Terry Bisson and Gary Phillips will appear together in on Oct 13 at the Counterpulse space in LA to talk about revolution, politics and science fiction -- sounds like a fantastic event! (Thanks, Shael, via Submitterator!)

Just look at these awesome banana-sticker design contest winners.

Just look at them.

Chiquita Banana Sticker Design Contest (Thanks, Doggo, via Submitterator!)

Mail-order animal catalog from 1972

Flickr user BryantSpokane scanned and posted "choice pages" from a 1972 Stromberg's Chicks & Pets Unlimited catalog. Stromberg's apparently used to mail-order live chickens, chinchillas, ferrets, armadillos, skunks, badgers, beavers, possums, prairie dogs, and other critters. It's an historical document that manages to be exciting and queasy at the same time -- you can imagine the trembling excitement of a kid in 1972 contemplating this mail-order menagerie, and then imagine the plight of some poor armadillos and badgers and such stuffed into cardboard boxes and sent through the post. Yikes!

Stromberg's Chicks & Pets Unlimited 1972 (via Neatorama)

Nigerian Sesame Street will feature HIV-positive muppet

Sesame Square, the Nigerian version of Sesame Street, will feature Kami, a girl-muppet who is HIV-positive. The show was produced with a $3.3 million grant from U.S., Agency for International Development and Obama's Emergency Plan for AIDS relief.

Apparently, the South African version of the show already has a HIV+ character, as Mark reported in 2002.

"If we're writing scripts for programs in Nigeria, the writers will be Nigerian scriptwriters," explains Farouky. "We'll often look for people who already have some experience in writing, but because we're aware [of] the format that we use and the methodology that we use, we'll provide training on how to write."

According to Farouky, collaboration is at the heart of the production process. "We work with our local teams to find ways in which we take the content that's important to them, to infuse the project with the cultural values, making sure we know which the taboo issues are and which are not," she told CNN...

"Our program is hosted by two muppets, a boy and a girl," she told CNN. "And because there is an entire region in Nigeria up in the North which is very Muslim, we had to be very sensitive. Even our publicity pictures could not have the muppets hugging, which we would normally have," she explained.

Although the first adaptation to reach West Africa, "Sesame Square" will be the latest in a long line of region-specific shows around the world, which include "Sisimpur" in Bangladesh, "Ulitsa Sezam" in Russia, and "Takalani Sesame" in South Africa.

HIV-positive muppet to star in Nigeria's 'Sesame Street' (via Super Punch)

Richard Pryor's alphabet on Sesame Street

Richard Pryor teaches the alphabet on Sesame Street, March 2, 1976, episode 0862. SFW! Seriously! (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!)

Update on Brozo the Mexican TV clown vs. internet troll

My earlier post about a Mexican TV clown threatening a Twitter user drew a wide array of informed comments from our readers in (and from) Mexico.

Today, a commenter updates us: Brozo the Creepy Clown (played by comedian/actor/erstwhile political commentator Victor Trujillo) made a statement today clarifying that this was not in fact about a Twitter user, as widely reported, but that an internet troll was using a Facebook account to post personal information about his cohost, and his cohost's daughter, including home addresses. There was a real threat factor involved, in other words, and that's why he reported the internet asshole to police.

Here is the updated statement, in Spanish. The interaction between Brozo and the Facebook account-holder reportedly involved a sexually-oriented personal threat by the troll to the female cohost and her daughter.

As BB commenter Luchador opines: "The mistake Brozo make yesterday was that he didn't say what was happening, he only threatened someone on the internet, and people reacted to that."

An interesting development. If all of this is true, why was the story mis-reported without clarification yesterday? And why would you go to the cops to shut down a Facebook account, when the Mexican cops don't control Facebook? I don't get it.

Blogger Eduardo Arcos of ALT1040, who have been covering this weird scandal, tweeted to me this morning: "Seems like [Brozo had] a visceral reaction, things got out of hand, and now he's making excuses. Mexican police have no jurisdiction in the United States. Anyone can report a fake profile on Facebook, there's no need to make threats on live television. I'm trying to get more info from Televisa."

And as @ruleiro tweeted, "It's too bad the 'Brozo Incident' didn't end up in the Fincher film [The Social Network]."

Previously: Mexican TV clown host threatens Twitter user

Keanu Reeves discovers Sad Keanu

Actor Keanu Reeves has been roaming the earth and internet unaware of the existence of the "Sad Keanu" meme. Not anymore.