Listen to the darker, original "Born in the USA"

In 1982, Bruce Springsteen recorded this raw, dark demo of "Born in the USA" during the sessions that would spawn his Nebraska album, my favorite of all his releases. "Born in the USA" is about the impact of the Vietnam War on America and the country's mistreatment of veterans upon their return. Of course the familiar version of the song ultimately released in 1984 has been reinterpreted by many as a patriotic anthem because, y'know, who pays attention to lyrics.

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Viral Chinese mobile game requires players to "applaud" a speech by President Xi Jinping

Such a Great Speech: Applaud Xi Jinping has been played 860 million times; players score points by button-mashing an "applause" button while watching outtakes from President Xi Jinping's 3.5 hour speech to the Communist Party Congress last week. Read the rest

Many American flags atop government buildings are made by prisoners

Earlier this month, California Senator Kamala Harris dropped a tantalizing truth bomb during a speech: many official flags in use in California were made by state prisoners. Via Mother Jones:

Harris was referring to the visit she made to the Central California Women’s Facility in July, a visit on which I tagged along. It was a surreal experience to watch dozens of women, mostly women of color, at work stations inside of the country’s largest prison for women, laying out and printing fabric and then dyeing it royal blue. It was just as surreal, if not more so, to hear prison officials point out that these flags would one day fly atop every state and federal building in California, describing this with something almost adjacent to pride.

There’s a Pretty Good Chance Your American Flag Was Made by a Prisoner (Mother Jones)

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Mark Twain's 1900 rewrite of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, strangely apropos today

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword; He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored; He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored; His lust is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps; I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps— His night is marching on.

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel: "As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal; Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel; Lo, Greed is marching on!"

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;* Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat; O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet! Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch, With a longing in his bosom—and for others' goods an itch. As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich— Our god is marching on.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated [Wikipedia]

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July 4: Rumblefish claims to own US Navy rendition of "America the Beautiful"

Adafruit Industries has been stripped of revenues from its Youtube channel after Rumblefish -- a notorious music-rights agency -- claimed to own the copyright on a public domain, taxpayer-funded rendition of "America the Beautiful." Read the rest

Huge patriotic statues, crowdsourced from 3D printer owners across America

We the Builders creates massive, 3D printed busts of the likes of George Washington by asking 3D printer owners to print out small pieces of the overall statue and then gloms them together in large, collaged pieces. Read the rest

Giant USA sunglasses

You know what these titanic, $260 map-of-the-continental-USA sunglasses need? An Alaska barrette and a Hawai'i epaulet. Seriously.

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest