Posted by Charles Reece, June 7, 2009 10:28pm | Post a Comment
A Kiwi gentleman (hiya, Stevv) pointed me to this online time-waster, the Political Spectrum Quiz, so I figured why not put my results on this here blog. What does being from the South and reading too much Frankfurt critical theory get me? Well, this:

My Political Views
I am a far-left social libertarian
Left: 7.63, Libertarian: 6.57

My Foreign Policy Views
Score: -4.03

My Culture War Stance
Score: -8.04

What do you know? I don't trust big business or big government, just the former a little bit less.

gomer pyle nabors surprise

This American Strife: Animation from Chris Ware

Posted by Charles Reece, June 7, 2009 09:56am | Post a Comment
I finally caught up with the cartoons Chris Ware has been doing. I was avoiding them because of their association with This American Life, a show I hate. The narcoleptic punctuation of host Ira Glass makes me want to slap him on the back of the head. With the show's tempo, it's like being trapped for an hour with a bunch of Dave Eggers' readers in an elevator designed by Errol Morris. And the cutesy stories of irrelevance make a good argument for Maoism. Ugh. Anyway, here's some good artwork (sound is advisedly optional):

Scimitars and Sand Dunes - Rethinking the Middle East, Arabs and Islam

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 6, 2009 10:41pm | Post a Comment
With President Obama's recent address at the University of Cairo, there has been a veritable sandstorm of media discussion about the Middle East, the Arab world and the Islamic world; three concepts lazily interchanged in the American mainstream media (including the supposedly smarter public radio). Despite some overlap, the indiscriminate use of the terms, both out of ignorance and deliberately,  minimizes substantial heterogeneity and differences -- to the detriment of our understanding of reality, and as a result contributing to the undermining and hindering of attempts at peace in the region. While I did find the president's speech fairly nuanced, intelligent and inspirational, until substantial actions reflect those attractive words, they offer nothing more than hope.

"Neighbour to the Moon," the legendary Christian Lebanese singer, فيروز.

Today Arabs, Muslims and Middle Easterners remain some of the last people in the west for whom racism is not only extremely common but also widely accepted, even governmentally endorsed. Merely advocating equality and human rights for Arabs and Muslims is often met with charges of racism and embracing hatred, probably the only people likely to ellicit that response besides Germans. Given this reality, centuries of negative stereotypes and repeated military and political actions that reflect undeniable double standards, it's no wonder that many view the frequent proclamations that "Islam is a beautiful religion" and hands extended in friendship with widespread suspicion at best.

Continue reading...

National Yo-Yo Day

Posted by Whitmore, June 6, 2009 05:30pm | Post a Comment
Carpe diem! If there is any day to walk the dog, pop the clutch, rock the baby, skin the cat, shoot the moon, or split the atom, today is the day, June 6th, National Yo-Yo Day. Flying Saucer, Around the World, Over The Falls, Buddha’s Revenge, Three Leaf Clover, Double On Trapeze, Brain Twister …

National Yo-Yo Day falls on what is believed to be the birthday for the entrepreneur who in 1932 got into the yo-yo business and built an empire, Donald Duncan Sr. Though the truth is the Duncan Company isn’t exactly sure the 6th of June is actually his birth date.

Yo-yos have been popular toys for more than 2,500 years, probably originating in China around 500-1000 B.C., though there is some evidence the Greeks had yo-yos even before then. While yo-yos in one form or another have existed for centuries, the yo-yo as we know it today seems to have originated in the Philippines.

Early yo-yos had a variety of different names; sometimes they were called quizzes, bandelores or Jou-Jous. The earliest recorded account of the word yo-yo is from an 1860 Filipino dictionary. Webster’s Dictionary states that the word "yo-yo" probably derives from the Philippine Ilokano language word "yóyo." Other sources suggest that "yo-yo" is a variation of a Tagalog word meaning “come-come” or “return.” My favorite neo-fact about yo-yo's: the urban legend that they were sometimes used in the Philippines as a martial arts weapon.

In 1923 in Santa Barbara, California, Pedro Flores, a Filipino-American, went into the business of building yo-yo's by hand. Five years later in 1928, Flores started the Yo-yo Manufacturing Company and the first yo-yo factory. He also began to host yo-yo competitions. With in a couple of years Flores opened two additional factories in Los Angeles employing over 600 workers and produced 300,000 units daily. Donald Duncan recognized the potential of this yo-yo mania sweeping the west coast and bought out the Flores Yo-yo Corporation. Duncan is said to have paid more than $250,000 for all assets, a fortune in the depression era. He then hired Flores to run Duncan's promotional campaigns.

During the Second World War, sales dropped off, as did the availability of materials. But in 1946 yo-yo's again took off, the Duncan Company moved to Luck, Wisconsin, and quickly became known as the “Yo-Yo Capital of the World.” The Duncan factory produced some 3,600 wooden yo-yo's per hour.

The next big step in the yo-yo evolution was replacing the maple bodies. Duncan partnered with the company Flambeau Plastics in the mid 1950’s to produce the first plastic yo-yo's. Sales went through the roof. By 1962, the Duncan Company alone sold a record 45 million yo-yo's in a nation with only 40 million kids, and still could not keep up with the crazy demand. A couple of years later, Duncan Sr. retired and gave control of his company to his sons. The Duncan family sold the company name and associated trademarks in 1968 to Flambeau Plastics. Today Yo-yo competitions and exhibitions are held world wide. The 2009 World Yo-Yo Contest will be held in Orlando, Florida at the Rosen Plaza Hotel on August 13th, 14th, and 15th. Workshops and panel discussions, covering numerous topics of interest, will be held during the three days of competition. The event hall has over 10,000 feet of yo-yoing space with 22 foot ceilings and will be open 24 hours a day during the event. Sounds like a party about to spin out of control.


Posted by Billyjam, June 6, 2009 05:46am | Post a Comment
Richard Thompson
There's an impressive line-up for this weekend's first ever LA Acoustic Music Festival on the Santa Monica Pier, today (Saturday, June 6th) and tomorrow (Sunday, June 7th) and it looks like it will guarantee that this will be just the first of many annual LA Acoustic Music Festivals to come.  Sponsored in part by Amoeba Music and a benefit for the California Acoustic Music Project (CAMP), the artist line-up for the two day festival includes Richard Thompson, Nanci Griffith and the Blue Moon Orchestra, Bruce Cockburn, The Kingston Trio, David Lindley, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion.

Santa Monica's pier is currently celebrating its 100 year anniversary & includes such attractions as its historic 1922 carousel and its interactive aquarium. Seems like a great place to host this two day festival, a must for all fans of Americana and folk music. In fact, catching critically acclaimed singer/songwriter/guitarist Richard Thompson alone, who performs later today, is enough of a reason to attend this event.

Thompson is one of the greatest guitarists of our time (Rolling Stone placed him in the Top 20 of the magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time) and has been making incredible music since his early musical days in the legendary British folk-rock group Fairport Convention. Thompson, who penned such classic early Fairport songs as "Meet On The Ledge" and "Crazy Man Michael," was a member of Fairport Convention from 1967 to 1971. He still occassionally performs with Fairport -- usually at their annual Fairport's Cropredy Convention. Soon after splitting from the group he released his first solo album on which Linda Peters (soon to be wife Linda Thompson) sang. The two married in 1972 and officially became a musical team for the years 1973 to 1982 (a little longer than their personal relationship lasted), releasing a total of six albums together including I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight and Hokey Pokey, which the song "A Heart Needs A Home" (video below) comes from.

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