Audio: "US heads of industry strategize to keep unions down under Obama"

(Image: "Over the Crisis," from laverrue's Flickr stream )

The folks at Wikileaks have just published the audio of what is described as a "secret hour-long telephone recording between US heads of industry discussing efforts to prevent the emancipation of unions under an Obama administration." Snip from Wikileaks alert about the audio file:

Yesterday the Huffington Post ran a story by Sam Stein titled "Bailout Recipients Hosted Call To Defeat Key Labor Bill". The story included around five minutes of an hour long recording between federal bailout funds recipiets. Wikileaks has released the full hour long recording. The call shows the firms to be involved in lobbying, effectively with public money.

And here's a snip from the aforementioned HuffPo piece by Sam Stein:

Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home Depot, led the call along with Rick Berman, an aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of the Center for Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two framed the legislation as an existential threat to American capitalism, or worse.

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Book about Roky Erickson

Earlier this week I mentioned that I had watched You're Gonna Miss Me, an excellent documentary about musician Roky Erickson. I forgot to mention that my friends at Process Media recently published a book about Erickson, called Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound.

The trailblazing 13th Floor Elevators released the first “psychedelic” rock album in America, transforming culture throughout the 1960s and beyond. The Elevators followed their own spiritual cosmic agenda — to change society by finding a new path to enlightenment. Their battles with repressive authorities are legendary.

Lead singer Roky Erickson was put away in a maximum security unit for the criminally insane for years. Tommy Hall, their Svengali lyricist, lived in a cave. Guitarist Stacy Sutherland was imprisoned. The drummer was involuntarily subjected to electric shock treatments.

This fascinating biography breaks decades of silence of band members and features dozens of never-before-printed photos. “One of the most exhilarating rock ‘n’ roll stories ever told.” — Julian Cope

Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound Read the rest

Archive of home recordings accidentally released to Napster

Joshuah Bearman alerted me to David Dixon's amazing audio archive website, which has links to audio files that people recorded at home and unwittingly sent to Napster.

This was right around the time that Napster was just beginning to penetrate into the average computer user's lives. At the same time, an audio utility program called MusicMatch Jukebox was also being widely used, since it was often pre-installed on off-the-shelf PC's. MMJ allowed you, among other things, to make recordings using the cheap microphone included with the PC, and save the file in mp3 format. If you didn't give the audio file a name, it assigned a default name "mic in track" followed by a number. Now if you were also running Napster, and you were careless enough to be sharing everything on your computer (which *many* were), then anyone also running Napster could just do a search for "mic in track" and find and download these personal recordings, usually without your knowledge.

I am that guy. I've amassed many, many hours of these recordings, which provide endless voyeuristic entertainment. Typical recordings were of people singing, rapping, or playing along with the radio (often badly), kids practicing their school book reports, audio love letters, kids being silly, and so forth. One of my finds was a 14-minute-long recording of a guy praying very fervently and emotionally, even lapsing into glossolalia. I've posted many of my favorites on my webpage, for free.

Audio Voyeurism Read the rest

Au revoir, mes amis de boingboing

Ed Note: one of Boingboing's three current guest bloggers, Steven Johnson is the author of six books, most recently The Invention Of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the Birth Of America. (You can see a video interview introducing the book here.) He's also the co-founder of the hyperlocal community site

The two most common--and frustrating--complaints I hear about the web and the blogosphere are 1) that they're filled with mean-spirited snark; and 2) that they've been divided up into predictable, Daily Me filters where you're only told stuff you already know. I've been hearing this for years, and every time I hear it I respond by pointing people to the success of boingboing, which I think most of us would agree is as true to the core values of the web as anything out here. First, our hosts are so generous and open--and largely snark-free--in just about everything they post. The default tone is here is always: "Hey, check out this amazing thing I found." And those things are far more eclectic and diverse than anything you would have encountered in the heyday of big media. Only at boingboing could a guy post about Candy Land, aviation safety, Lost, and the Obama IT plan in one week and feel like he's the boring, predictable one. If this turns out to be what the DailyMe looks like, I think we're all going to be just fine.

So it was an honor and a complete blast to hang out here for the past two weeks. Read the rest

PictureBox book sale

PictureBox, publisher of gorgeous art books, is having a monster sale that lasts until February 8. For instance, you can get this giant Gary Panter book for $30 dollars, marked down from $95.

An intimate look at the work and life of a legendary artist. Gary Panter has been one of the most influential figures in visual culture sincethe mid-1970s. From his era-defining punk graphics to his cartoon icon Jimbo to his visionary design for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, he has left his mark on every medium he’s touched. Working in close collaboration with the artist, PictureBox has assembled the definitive volume on Panter’s work from the early 1970s to the present. This monumental, slipcased set is split into two 350-page volumes. The first is a comprehensive monograph featuring over 700 images of paintings, drawings, sculptures, posters and comics, alongside essays by Robert Storr, Mike Kelley, Richard Klein, Richard Gehr, Karrie Jacobs and Byron Coley, as well a substantial commentary by the artist himself. The second volume features a selection from Panter’s sketchbooks–the site of some of his most audacious work–most of which has never been published in any form.

PictureBox book sale Read the rest

Dudley Moore + Peter Cook sing song about Robin Hood's BFF in 1965

From the classic 1960s BBC TV comedy series 'Not Only But Also'. At about 1:19 in, after the caveman sketch, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sing a 'ballad' about Robin Hood's fabled sidekick Alan A Dale. This episode was shot in 1965. Video Link (Thanks, Drew Carey!) Read the rest

Putin slaps down Michael Dell at Davos

At Davos, Russian prime minister Putin told Michael Dell CEO, of Dell Computer: "We don't need help. We are not invalids."

CNN's Peter Gumbel, Europe editor, reports:

At the official opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Putin, now Russian Prime Minister, delivered a 40-minute speech touching on everything from why the dollar should not be the sole reserve currency to how the world needed to enter into a smart energy partnership with Russia. Then it was time for questions. First up: Dell. He praised Russia's technical and scientific prowess, and then asked: "How can we help" you to expand IT in Russia.


Putin's withering reply to Dell: "We don't need help. We are not invalids. We don't have limited mental capacity." ... And, in a final dig at Dell, he talked about how Russian scientists were rightly respected not for their hardware, but for their software. The implication: Any old fool can build a PC outfit.

Putin slaps down Michael Dell at Davos Read the rest

Attenborough's response to creationists' hate mail

Sir David Attenborough gets a lot of hate mail because he doesn't give credit to God in his documentaries.

In an interview with this week's Radio Times about his latest documentary, on Charles Darwin and natural selection, the broadcaster said: "They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance."

Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give "credit" to God, Attenborough added: "They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator."

Attenborough's response to creationists' hate mail Read the rest

Barfing Unicorn

If a barfing unicorn needs a unicorn chaser, will the barfing unicorn serve as its own chaser? Read the rest

The $4000 handmade rattle

MAKE editor and publisher Dale Dougherty has more on the well-intentioned-but-actually-awful Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

Years ago, Jason Gold was looking for a rattle for his new baby. He wanted something safe and made of natural materials. "I was trying to find a rattle that wasn't coated in paint or made of plastic," said Gold. Not finding any, he made a rattle out of wood. Thinking that other parents might be looking for alternatives to mass-produced items of questionable materials, he started Camden Rose, a manufacturer of wooden and fabric toys in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today, the Camden Rattle sells for $15 through a network alternative retail stores and places like Whole Foods.

This year, Jason Gold thought the economy would be his biggest worry this holiday season. However, it turned out that the 2008 holiday season was the busiest ever for Camden Rose. The bigger worry for Gold has been figuring out if the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) will put him and many others like him out of business in 2009.

The CPSIA on the surface seems like a good idea, coming as a response to the recall of toys made in China and sold in the US that had potentially harmful levels of lead, phthalates or other toxins. The law's intentions are good but its side effects are not. Lost in the details were provisions that may deal a serious blow to America's cottage industries and individuals who make things by hand. This comes at a time when the unemployed and underemployed are seeking creative ways to make a living from home.

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Giant squid cake

I wish there were more information about this tasty-looking giant squid cake!

See also: my Flickr set of bizarre cakes. Read the rest

Cryonics: 2

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

Alcor Foundation, the larger of two companies that maintain people in cryopreservation, stores cryopreserved bodies, heads, and pets in beautifully made stainless-steel cylinders known as dewars. These are vacuum-insulated (like giant thermos flasks) to minimize the boiloff of liquid nitrogen. Each whole body is packed in a separate aluminum pod, four pods to a dewar. The upper ends of the pods are visible in the picture on the right, which I took looking down into the mouth of a dewar through the liquid nitrogen, which is colorless. A winch and chain are used to lower pods into storage.

For more information check Read the rest

Cryonics: 1

(Charles Platt is a guest blogger)

This man is Curtis Henderson, one of a handful of people who took the concept of cryonics seriously enough to devote his life to it forty years ago, when it seemed even more frivolous than it does today. Henderson had inherited a modest trust fund, most of which he spent on The Cryonics Society of New York, which he ran from his home in Sayville, Long Island. The rusting cylinder behind him was a very early one-person cryonics capsule. I found it (containing no human remains, I hasten to add) in his back yard when I photographed him around 1990.

Currently Henderson lives in Florida. The Cryonics Society of New York was disbanded long ago. I don’t know what happened to the capsule. Read the rest

Nerd merit badges

John Young and his friend are making a line of nerd merit badges. "Attach to your jacket, your backpack, or the lid of your overclocked, battle-scarred laptop. Start a nerd sash!"

Open Source Contributor

Nerd Merit Badge 01

Open Source

Requirements: Make an accepted commit to any open source project.

$3.99 plus $1.00 S&H in the USA

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Cemeteries surrounded by parking lots

Alex Steffen sent me this link to a gallery of cemeteries in parking lots.

Tullahassee Creek Indian Cemetery – Sand Springs, Oklahoma

Situated right between an ATM and a postal drop box, this Indian cemetery comprises about 1/4 acre of isolated turf in a parking lot outside Tulsa.

It was founded in 1883 and took less than a century to become the inadvertent centerpiece of a strip mall.

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Crankbait fishing lures in Outdoor Life

Outdoor Life magazine recently featured the fishing lures from the CRANKbait! art exhibition my friend Steve Lodefink curated. (I painted the blue bumbleswine at the top.) Read the rest

VIDEO: Brion Gysin at work

Brion Gysin is one of my favorite artists, and his thinking and interests influenced me in myriad ways. Gysin is perhaps best known as the "discoverer" of the cut-up technique popularized by his best friend William S. Burroughs, and the co-inventor of the trance-inducing Dreamachine. Gysin was also a pioneer of sound poetry and multimedia collage that, in my mind, underpins remix culture, quick-cut video editing, and nonlinear Web experiences. Above is a video of the artist at work on his calligraphic and roller paintings.

Previously: Brion Gysin retrospective book - Boing Boing How to hallucinate with ping-pong balls and a radio - Boing Boing David Woodard: Nothing is true, everything is permitted. - Boing Boing Of Dreammachines and A-Life - Boing Boing Read the rest

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