1/27/2011 10:20:51 AM
Want to know what challenges the Internet will face in the near future? Check out the list of the top five over the next five years, according to the judges of the annual Webby Awards.
Does it even make sense to own a house? Well, yes . . . in some places.
Can the excess heat from a crematorium be put to better use? Of course, one town in England says: Heat the community swimming pool with it. Always thinking on the bright side, Good asks, “What better way to cap off a life well-lived than by literally keeping your neighbors warm?”
Need help feeling patriotic? Look up! Bald eagles are on the move.
If your New Year’s resolution involves being more creative, get inspired by some everyday artists who have vowed to make something new each day. Author and creativity guru Noah Scalin made a skull a day for an entire year.
Obsessive, stalkerish fun: Portroids.
Midwest 45s serves up a motherload of obscure soul, funk, and gospel grease from the heartland.
Had your fill of the rat race? Why not buy yourself a firetower? Or a desert island? Or maybe you've always dreamed of owning a used bookstore on wheels; here's your opportunity.
They bury elephants, don't they? Take a tour of the final resting places for a bunch of displaced pachyderms.
While Christians and the “new atheists” go head to head in the culture wars, they’re missing a larger phenomenon: the animistic beliefs that pervade much of the developing world.
China is showing signs of greening up its act, but a legacy of pollution haunts some areas. A powerful 40-minute video report from Yale Environment 360 tells the story of Chinese villagers who band together to fight back against factories that are polluting their town, and government officials who are allowing it.
Source: The Huffington Post, Good, Fast Company, Ready Made, Yale Environment 360, The Chronicle of Higher Education
1/25/2011 1:04:51 PM
Fighter planes rip across the sky to a backdrop of soaring violins. Freckled, pensive children stare blankly at the camera. An American flag flaps robustly, confidently in the wind. And above it all, a man speaks urgently of freedom, accomplishment, legacy, and extraordinary strength. This trailer—clichéd in all the effective ways—isn’t for a World War II-themed blockbuster. It’s for a book called Courage to Stand—an autobiography and platform piece by former Minnesota governor and 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty. Underwhelmed?
Pawlenty is just the latest author to schlep his book with the help of an emerging visual medium, the book trailer. (Although, in T-Paw’s case, there are also some presidential aspirations thinly veiled by the commercial.) The medium gives authors a chance to defend their own book, its merits and motivations, with sleek moving images and charming anecdotes. We’ve even plugged a trailer made for experimental literature by Jonathan Safran Foer. And why not? We all pay $50 a month for broadband for a reason, right? Shouldn’t advertisements be delivered to us, not in static block of text, but in streaming high-definition video?
At least one author isn’t sold on the new sales technique. After seeing another author’s book trailer, Stuart Ross—Canadian writer, professor, and literary editor of This Magazine—puts it more bluntly: “For some reason, it just bugs the shit out of me. Not Gary [Barwin’s] trailer itself—the fact that now we have to make goddamn book trailers! It’s not enough to write a book. To do launches and readings. To tweet and BlechBook. Now we have to be movie stars too.” The quote comes from a column in subTerrain, in which Ross chronicles the production of his first book trailer.
I have ten minutes before my class starts. I scrawl “Stuart Ross Book Trailer” on a piece of paper. I open up PhotoBooth on my Mac and hold up my sign, wiggle it around a bit, put it down, and pick up my book. “Hi, I’m Stuart Ross and this is my fucking book. It’s called Buying Cigarettes for the Dog. And it’s got stories in it. And I hope you’ll buy it.” I grimace and fill the screen with my sign again, muttering. It’s my first book trailer and it’s 25 seconds long.
The video was eventually picked up by Huffington Post for an article about the best and worst book trailers, which garnered Ross’ video about 3,200 views. He concludes: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind and about ten minutes to it.”
Source: subTerrain (article not yet available online)
1/20/2011 1:11:39 PM
Middle Eastern affairs and conflicts are, to say the least, mired in complexity. America’s fingers are dipped in many of the region’s interests—halting the spread of terrorism, securing oil reserves, ensuring non-proliferation of nuclear technology, and controlling the opium trade, just to name a few. Getting the story straight is difficult for seasoned reporters and exponentially harder for a blogger in the comfortable embrace of his Midwestern cubicle. After world-rattling events, newshounds balk at our country’s feeble grasp of Middle Eastern contexts and lack of strategic intelligence and foresight.
Well, that need-to-know information can’t always be collected and those highly-sought experts shouldn’t necessarily be trusted, according to Columbia Journalism Review—especially in a country like Afghanistan, where professional journalism is a fairly new institution. “Afghan journalists are relatively new to their work, and they have been criticized for lacking professionalism,” writes CJR’s Vanessa M. Gezari. “But Afghan journalists describe the world they see: a complex place, littered with overlapping, conflicting accounts. There are no reliable sources here.” The other issue faced by Afghan journalists is that their mission—uncovering truth in a burgeoning democracy—is relatively similar to that of Western military intelligence officers. According to Gezari, “For Afghan journalists, the methodological similarity between reporting and intelligence work is problematic. Journalism has little institutional standing in Afghanistan, and many Afghan reporters told me that ordinary people suspect journalists of spying.”
All solid journalism clearly requires proper training. Eager to test out the tools of their trade, journalism professor Diane Winston’s students put themselves in harm’s way and took up a religious beat in Palestine by actually reporting on the spiritual landscape from the West Bank. Winston recounts the class’s introductory experience in The Chronicle Review:
Then came the moment when the airport van left us inside the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. Punchy after a 14-hour plane ride, we dragged duffel bags and camera equipment through narrow, cobblestone streets and winding pathways until we found our way to the Lutheran Guest House and sleep. Several hours later, jet lag proved no match for religious authority as a muezzin’s predawn chant led the call to prayer.
Being there made all the difference. The intensive preparation cohered when students, faced with breaking news, drew on multiple skill sets to report and write stories—to practice journalism for real. Students covered protests and demonstrations that could have been dangerous but were crucial for readers worldwide.
We in the magazine world know that not all reporting needs to be serious or completely objective. The nuances of obscure culture can be just as revelatory, thrilling, disheartening, or impactful. In a bit of meta-reporting, Bidoun—a quarterly, experimental-format Middle Eastern arts-and-culture magazine—interviewed two reporters from the long-running educational publication Saudi Aramco World. The publication’s editorial mission is quite different from, say, a newspaper or prime-time broadcast; one of the reporters states that“Aramco World really saw itself as a cultural interface between the Middle East and the United States. I think there was prescience in that, the idea that greater understanding of the people and the issues of the Middle East would be important in the future.”
And speaking of Saudi Aramco World, the January-February 2011 features a very different type of dispatch from the Middle East: light-hearted photography. The magazine spotlights Iraqi photographer Jamal Penjweny’s project “Iraq is Flying” (pictures all over this post), in which he captured everyday Iraqi citizens in mid-air. Penjweny’s images remind the outside world of something we often take for granted: Iraq’s diverse people can transcend their portrayal by mainstream media, even with a permanent backdrop of war.
Bidoun,Chronicle Review, Columbia Journalism Review, Saudi Aramco World
Images courtesy of Jamal Penjweny.
1/20/2011 11:22:50 AM
On the heels of Utne’s Work Package in our latest issue, Boston Review has a forum on the possibilities for full employment in today’s economy.
Who says that wind power needs to come from turbines? Introducing: fibro-wind arrays.
In what may be the most important piece of news this week, Paul the Psychic Octopus’ soccer-predicting legacy will not be forgotten.
From Guernica: Detroitism: What does “ruin porn” tell us about the motor city?
A visual number crunching of the state of modern-day marriage. There’s nothing like graphs and pretty pictures to get the point across.
The New Republic’s art critic on the state of photojournalism.
1/13/2011 1:50:21 PM
Every week we share links to stories, articles, and other interesting things we’ve come across online for you to enjoy over the weekend. It’s the utne.com crockpot; we add the ingredients for a great online meal.
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has been closely watched by the Chinese authorities for years. Now they’ve taken it a step further by razing his studio in Shanghai into rubble. The title of the new documentary about Ai: Never Sorry.
As of Wednesday, there was snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 U.S. states. Get a very, very close-up view of what this looks like.
Feeling salty about that paycut? Maybe you should be working for free.
One more way to rescue the newspaper industry: certify journalists to carry handguns.
A series of quick interviews with contemporary photographers, mostly documentary and portrait, Mull It Over reveals the artists’ thoughts behind their work.
Novelist Edwidge Danticat on Democracy Now!: “Haitians are very resilient, but it doesn’t mean they can suffer more than other people.”
Sarah Palin’s infamous target map gets a brilliant, darkly satirical treatment from Seattle alt weekly The Stranger on its cover this week.
1/11/2011 5:18:33 PM
A look at publications you may not know or may not have seen for a while...
Focus: “Something to do with Canada.”
About: Geist is a magazine of ideas and culture made in Canada with a strong literary focus and a sense of humor. The Geist tone is intelligent, plain-talking, inclusive and offbeat.
Praise and Awards: The Western Magazine Awards “Magazine of the Year”
A Geist Sampler:
Alberto Manguel on the complexities and clichés of Canada:
But slowly, to the image of the Mounties and the poster for dogsledding in Quebec, were added other, more unexpected and more profound aspects of our nation. Canada was becoming visible through its complexities, not merely through its clichés. Then it all stopped….
The recent financial crisis, so useful to justify every outrageous decision taken in the name of greed, is of course blamed.... But the truth is, the blame is ours. We have allowed our public transit systems to collapse and for rail lines to be ripped out. We have allowed the health system to become so degraded that, in Alberta, for instance, we find it normal to queue for hours outside public clinics in freezing weather to see whatever doctor happens to be present. We have allowed arts programs to be cut from our schools, and we accept that our children will be brought up in a system that considers painting and music superfluous activities. Maybe, immersed as I was in imaginary places, I believed in a country that never quite existed, at least not beneath the surface, and that now, when the arrogant cupidity of our economic system no longer bothers to hide its methods or intentions, even that surface has been blown away and Canada appears to be neither better nor worse than most other countries. Read the whole story>>
Stephen Henighan on the Phony War of Global Warming:
My grandfather continued to work at the clothing shop he owned in London until the day he went to work to find that German bombers had left a large hole in the ground where the shop had stood. The awareness of approaching disaster did not alter my grandparents’ behaviour. Only the next spring, when Germany invaded Norway, did the full import of their decision to enlarge their family become apparent.
Today we are once again in a Phony War. This time the antagonist is the damage we have done to our climate….
In a Phony War you can’t voice your deepest preoccupations, because they sound like hysteria. We all live with the (mostly unspoken) knowledge of the inevitability of our death as individuals. To live with the unspoken knowledge of the inevitable death of our civilization, perhaps within three decades, is far more paralyzing. Read the whole story>>
From “Death in the Family” by Ruth E. WalkerDog died Tuesday.
Buried him Saturday cuz Addie couldn’t come ’til then. Reef bitched that we always wait for Addie. But we couldn’t have Dog’s burying without music. We agreed on that.
It was the best funeral. Dog looked good, considering. Couldn’t hardly see where the bullet went in but Reef said pull up his head and look at the back and you’ll see. Read the whole story>>
From “How to Survive in the Woods” by Ursula Twiss
I can say a number of things. I can say, we just fell out of love. Whaddaya know? I can say: He talked about other women. I stopped cleaning the toilet. He stopped coming home. I put on weight. He quit smoking. I started smoking. He left counselling pamphlets on the kitchen table. I put his shoes outside every time it rained. He talked about what was wrong with me, started a “private creative journal.” I ate potato chips in bed, slept with all the lights on. Read the whole story>>
1/10/2011 10:56:27 AM
It’s heartwarming to see an unemployed, panhandling man plucked off a streetcorner and given a job due to his singular talent—that’s why the post-holiday human-interest story about “golden voiced” YouTube sensation Ted Williams spread far and wide last week. But David Sirota at Open Left has dug deeper into the narrative behind Williams’ unlikely rise and found the story of his re-employment to be a silky-smooth public relations maneuver by Quicken Loans and “a microcosm of a media that has become far more a manufacturer of false, establishment-serving storylines than a documenter of genuine everyday reality.”
What’s so galling about this particular instance of American Dream triumphalism is the most famous player now involved: the Cleveland Cavaliers. As Cleveland’s ABC affiliate reports, the NBA team owned by Quicken Loans’ CEO has now “offered Williams full-time voiceover work” and “offered to pay a mortgage on a home” for him. The ABC affiliate—like the rest of the media—hasn’t bothered to point out what The Nation magazine’s Dave Zirin [an Utne visionary] has previously noted: namely, that Quicken Loans has been one of the major banks throwing people out of their homes during the foreclosure crisis. Yes, that’s right: The same company that is bragging about offering a single homeless man a job is the same predatory subprime firm that is making many people homeless—and none of the media covering the story have mentioned that. All we get are stories about how wonderful and generous the Cavs and Quicken Loans are for making their offer to Williams. …
Instead of using Williams’ story to highlight the thousands of other rank-and-file Ted Williamses who didn’t get lucky enough to become an Internet sensation, we are effectively led to believe that Ted Williams is a classic American story emblematic of what supposedly happens all the time in our allegedly well-functioning economy (i.e. “proof that life in this country can change overnight”). Likewise, instead of highlighting the hypocrisy of a company that has caused so much homelessness now using a homeless man to whitewash its corporate record, we get hagiography making that company out to be a benevolent savior.
Cheers to Sirota for daring to ask impertinent questions about the motivations of the golden-hearted Samaritans in Williams’ story. He takes pains in his post to point out that “we should all be genuinely happy for Williams,” and I share the sentiment—but taking a broader perspective on this tale reminds me that whenever a story seems too good to be true, it’s usually leaving something out.
Here’s the original viral video in case you’re one of the few who haven’t see it yet:
Source: Open Left
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