Wednesday, June 29, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 101 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Life's Soundtrack, Unshuffled 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Much has been written about the "allure of the mixtape," a concept that encompasses everything from that oxide-shedding C-90 collection of crush songs you taped off the radio in middle school, to mp3 blogs (and memes like the Friday Random Ten) to podcasts and "battling iPod" amateur DJ club contests.

Pulling a 20-year old audiocassette from a forgotten, dusty box in the hall closet can be a bittersweet time capsule of remembrance; next to scents, songs are the surest primal pathways to total recall. While digital mixes may be too recent a phenomenon to be effective in conjuring past lives, a single press of a cassette "play" button has unparalleled power to pull ancient scenes from the longest-neglected of neural pathways.

Many mixers use this artform in the interest of compiling the biggest, baddest, most obscure "bet you never heard this one" playlists, but mixtapes aren't solely the realm of amateur audio collagework. It can be argued that most non-orchestral film soundtracks are "mixtapes" after a fashion.

Perhaps therein lies the key to the mixtape's popularity, in the fact one can now easily create a multitude of personalized "soundtracks" for all sorts of people, places, and situations. We create mixtapes/playlists for the morning commute, for a dinner party, for trainrides and for trips down memory lane. The creative streak in most of us drives the mix-urge, but then again, we're not necessarily averse to having someone or something stir the soup once the basic ingredients have been collected: voilà! Shuffle! However, I'm not convinced that the advent of digital audio gadgetry sounded the death knell of the bonafide mixtape. The art of the mix, I believe, lies in the careful selection and sequencing of tracks - not in the laborious trial-and-error process of dubbing from radio or album to tape, although some might say the toil sweetens the results.

After all, if all of life's a stage, who wouldn't want their show to be accompanied a selection of perfect songs?

More: Tiny Mix Tapes
The Art of the Mix
WIRED: Sonic Youth's Thursaton Moore on the Power of the Mix Tape
Salon.com: PC's Killed the Mixtape Star [subscr. or daypass req.]
Slate.com: "The Madonna Code"

Monday, June 27, 2005
MIT Weblog Survey 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Take the MIT Weblog Survey

You too can be part of MIT researcher Cameron Marlow's weblog survey, which takes a detailed look at blogger's virtual and meatspace lives. You'll remain anonymous, but will need to click "yes" to an online consent form. If I may be so bold, the on-the-fly results may be just as enlightening to the surveyed as to the surveyors. [via Lauren at Feministe]

Friday, June 24, 2005
Please Excuse Our Unexpected Absence... 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
...as the universe seems to be roiling with chaotic energies lately: car crashes, fire alarms, quasiprophetic dreams, sudden shifts and rumbling earthquakes. It's been an uncharacteristically blog-less week for me as other matters have taken priority, and hopefully some calm will eventually flow into the breach to balance it out.

The big news is my vehicle was totalled a little over a week ago. I was rear-ended at fairly high speed while waiting at a stop light on Lake Shore drive downtown; fortunately as always I was wearing my seatbelt, and I wasn't seriously injured. But my trusty green car is just a crushed mess. *sigh* [Note: for legal reasons I have deleted some of the details of the accident I had previously posted here. Hopefully at a later date I can share them again.]

I am stunned, stunned - but somehow not surprised - by the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. New London. If you haven't followed this case, realize this SCOTUS decision has ominous implications for any American property owner, to the extent that from now on, you cannot feel truly secure in "owning" your property - your home or your business, etc. - because if another entity (a private business, a corporation or a government branch) comes along that can generate greater government tax revenue from your property than you do, your property may be taken from you in this perverse reinterpretation of the "Takings Clause." Jason at Positive Liberty takes a closer look at the ruling:
Such a power was never contemplated at the adoption of the Constitution, except to regard it with horror: The power itself implies strongly that if private landowners hold their land only by virtue of a "public" use, then the property does not truly belong to them. In the final analysis, all property belongs to the government.
As Jason pointedly states, after Kelo "we're really one giant revenue farm for the government."

Monday, June 20, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 100 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Monday, June 13, 2005
Smell Me, Trust Me, Spend My $$$ 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
I'm not sure whether I should hold my nose, or lock up my wallet:
...[S]cientists have discovered that a whiff of a certain hormone makes people more willing to trust others with their money.

The hormone is oxytocin, which in nonhuman mammals is associated with social attachment, as well as a number of physiological functions related to reproduction.
Michael Kosfeld of the University of Zurich and his colleagues devised a double-blind study to compare trusting tendencies in subjects given an oxytocin nasal spray and those given a placebo. After receiving either a single dose of the hormone or the placebo, participants played a trust game in which an investor chooses how much money to fork over to a trustee, who then decides how much to return after the amount is quadrupled. Subjects played the game using monetary units, which were exchanged for real money at the end of the experiment.

According to the researchers, oxytocin increased investor trust markedly, with 45 percent of the oxytocin group exhibiting the highest trust level, compared to just 21 percent of the placebo group. The team rejected the possibility that oxytocin might be promoting risk-taking in general, rather than social risk-taking specifically, because when investors were paired with a computer trustee instead of a human one they did not take such risks.

Describing the work today in the journal Nature, Kosfeld and his collaborators acknowledge that their findings could be misused. They add, however, that the work could ultimately help patients with mental disorders associated with social dysfunction, such as those afflicted with autism or social phobia. [read full article in Scientific American]
Hhmmm. Where could marketers best find a use for oxytocin sprays and scents? Casinos? Retail establishments? Those smelly magazine inserts? Good heavens, this could revolutionize the economy!

Or, it could make make random shoppers fall in love with one another.

Friday, June 10, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 99 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Thursday, June 09, 2005
Democracies Die Behind Closed Doors 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
"Democracies die behind closed doors.

The First Amendment, through a free press, protects the people's right to know that their government acts fairly, lawfully, and accurately in deportation proceedings.

When government begins closing doors, it selectively controls information rightfully belonging to the people.

Selective information is misinformation.

The Framers of the First Amendment 'did not trust any government to separate the true from the false for us.'"

Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753, 773 (1972) (quoting Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S. 516, 545 (Jackson, J., concurring)).
[Detroit Free Press et al., v. John Ashcroft et al. >> Skimble's "Glimmers of hope in the war against Ashcroftism," >> Chicagoist]

University of Chicago's Regenstein Library to Become Nation's Largest 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Regenstein Library thinks big - really big.The University of Chicago's Regenstein Library is poised to think big - really big. When its $42 million expansion is completed four years from now, it will become the largest research library under one roof in North Anerica.
...Regenstein's collection will total about 8 million volumes in one space. The total university collection will exceed 11 million.
U. of C. planners say the addition to Regenstein will allow the university to keep its options open. "First and foremost it gives us the ability to rethink the library in ways in which if we had to go offsite [to store books] we could not rethink," said Judith Nadler, director of the library. Faculty members involved with planning the new facility have stressed the need for a library that draws scholars away from computer terminals and back to the stacks. In fact, a faculty survey revealed that professors, while continuing to draw heavily on the holdings of Regenstein, were spending less time in the library.

"I think there is something deeply important about human face-to-face interaction," said Andrew Abbott, the Swift distinguished service professor in sociology. Scholars say preserving Regenstein's massive open stacks is another priority.

"The chance of seeing what the next volume is, or running your eyes idly over the spines, opening the pages and falling upon something is memorable, pleasurable, instructive and frequently decisive in the way you work," said Neil Harris, a U. of C. historian and member of the faculty committee involved in planning the new addition. The planned addition of 40,000 square feet to the library--opened in 1970 and designed by architect Walter Netsch--will not only allow the collection to grow, but it also will provide the library with updated preservation facilities, improved book-tracking technology and additional classroom space.

The cornerstone of the library's expansion will be a high-density, automated shelving facility that mainly will house print journals. The high-density storage system requires one-seventh the floor space of a conventional system and employs bar codes and bins to track and store volumes. Already in use at several libraries, the system allows books to be selected and delivered within five minutes.

The expansion also will enable the university to enlarge its digital collection. With the extra space gained from storing print periodicals, a portion of the current Regenstein building will be reconfigured into an "information commons" and include digital learning libraries as well as an Internet-savvy library staff. Scholars and library officials say the expansion of Regenstein can blend the best of the digital and print worlds. Harris, whose scholarly career predates the photocopier, says that a renovated Regenstein will remain the spiritual center of the university.

"This library is the heart of the campus. It's been the most important building put up in the last 50 years, so you approach it with some degree of reverence," said Harris. "You don't want to lose its significance." [read full article]
More: The Regenstein's current floorplans

Wednesday, June 08, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 98 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 97 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Monday, June 06, 2005
Granby, Colorado: One Year Later 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Today, all that remains of the 60-ton Komatsu bulldozer Marvin Heemeyer used to wreak havoc on Granby, Colorado is a dismantled engine, awaiting recycling in a scrap metal furnace [photo left © Dennis Schroeder, from the Rocky Mountain News]. In the distance, the Rockies' timeless purple-gray peaks still frame Granby's majestic view, but for many residents the economic nightmare persists. The emotional and financial scars of that June day remain, and this quiet mountain town still struggles to restore the buildings and livelihoods it lost. From the Rocky Mountain News:
[Sky-Hi News publisher and editor Patrick] Brower also rebuilt on the newspaper's old site. He and a staff of 10 moved into the new building, still without a sign, three weeks ago. He said insurance largely covered both the cost of the new building and the bulk of his material losses, such as damaged computers and furniture. Sky-Hi also received $20,000 from the Granby Fund, which Brower hopes to put toward the $80,000 loss his business suffered. "It was a full sprint for a year," Brower said about the challenge of publishing the paper out of Granby's old asbestos-laden middle school for the last year. "We had people working overtime and people going beyond the call of duty," he said. The weekly paper never missed an issue.

Some property owners haven't been so lucky. Gambles, the longtime department store in Granby and the last place Heemeyer demolished, is still an empty lot. "I was underinsured, so I didn't have the money to rebuild," said Casey Farrell, Gambles' owner. Farrell moved his business, which now sells a streamlined selection of appliances, electronics and vacuum cleaners, into a vacant space in a strip mall on the west side of town.

He got help from the town's emergency fund, but said cash flow at his new store, which is less than half the size of his old store, is only 60 percent of what it used to be. "The Lord has to keep smiling on me, and I have to keep growing," Farrell said. "If I don't grow, I'm dead." The town itself still bears the scars of Heemeyer's rampage. The town hall is now a hole in the ground. Officials meet at a suite in a business park on the edge of town.

But Mayor Wang sees a silver lining in the destruction. "He tried to destroy us, but the effect is that he made things better and stronger," Wang said. "We had a lot on our plate before the bulldozer clanked down the street. The irony is that it might have accelerated some things." [read full article]
According to the Denver Post, Cody Pacheff [owner of the cement plant that Heemeyer blamed for his muffler shop's decline] still deals with the aftermath every day:
Along with the town's physical resurgence in the past 12 months, Mayor Ted Wang said, Granby is also experiencing civic renewal, with its 1,500 citizens taking a more active interest in community affairs. "People are paying attention to what's going on in their town. They're listening to what their neighbors are saying," Wang said. But some businesses and residents are still hurting, he said. Heemeyer's first target, the cement batch plant, has been partly rebuilt and was operating a week after the attack, said owner Cody Pacheff. But he said he's still more than $1 million in the hole. "It's going to take a few years to recoup all that," he said, expressing gratitude for community support.

Pacheff said he thinks about the attack on a daily basis. "It's like a nightmare. Every day you come to work and it reminds you of it," he said, adding that he still experiences flashbacks to when he tried, but failed, to stop Heemeyer with a front-end loader. [read full article]

Friday, June 03, 2005
The Friday Random Ten: Name That Tune edition 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
I like this variation on the Friday Random Ten (seen on Trish Wilson's Blog [via Pinko Feminist Hellcat]) where one posts song lyrics from the Random Ten Songs instead of the artists and titles. Before we begin, let me share two very good posts I read today:In the "weird news," a Chicago nursing home resident died after he caught fire in his wheelchair. The cause of the fire is "unknown." As they say, hmmm. Anyhow, here goes:
  1. Will you meet your mind where the night collides
    Will you greet yourself when the sun arrives
    I'll just stay behind, I've met mine
  2. From station to station
    back to Dusseldorf City
    Meet Iggy Pop and David Bowie

    [clue: these grandfathers of techno play The Riviera in Chicago tomorrow night]
  3. I will loose you
    Existing were no soul apart
    You stand on a platform
    Your effigy dissolves in my hands
  4. It brings back the sound of music so tender,
    It brings back a night of tropical splendor,
    It brings back a memory ever green.
  5. You can take all the tea in china
    Put it in a big brown bag for me
    Sail right around the seven oceans
    Drop it straight into the deep blue sea
  6. Driving down those city streets waiting to get down
    Want to get your big machine somewhere in this town
    Now in the parking lot garage, I found a proper place
    Just follow all the written rules, you'll fit into the space
  7. Where thorns are a teaser
    I've played a double jeu
    Yherushalaim at easter
    I cry I pray mon Dieu
  8. Grey men who speak of victory
    Shed light upon their stolen life
    They drive by night and act as if they're moved by unheard music
    To step in time and play the part
    With velvet voices smooth and cold
    Their power games a game no more
    And long the chance to use it
  9. Frankenstein and Dracula have nothing on you
    Jekyll and Hyde join the back of the queue
  10. Got my best suit and my tie
    Shiny silver dollar on either eye
    I hear the chauffeur comin' to the door
    Says there's room for maybe just one more

Thursday, June 02, 2005
Come Join the Potty 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Toilets, toilets and more toiletsWhat everyday object is an endless source of humor, revulsion, giggles, curiosity, embarrassment and relief? No, not the telephone - the toilet! If you're looking for fascinating potty research and development, look outside the continental U.S. - Asia seems to be the toilet tech hotspot.

New Delhi, India's new Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, founded by Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, is a museum dedicated to the past, present and future of this ubiquitous hygienic appliance. A fascinating read: Dr. Pathak's History of Toilets manuscript, presented at the annual International Symposium on Public Toilets held in Hong Kong on May 25-27, 1995 (the 2006 World Toilet Expo will be held in Bangkok, and previous colloquia have traditionally been held in Asian nations). Here is the introduction:
Unlike body functions like dance, drama and songs, defecation is considered very lowly. As a result very few scholars documented precisely the toilet habits of our predecessors. The Nobel Prize winner for Medicine (1913) Charles Richet attributes this silence to the disgust that arises from noxiousness and lack of usefulness of human waste. Others point out that as sex organs are the same or nearer to the organs of defecation, those who dared to write on toilet habits were dubbed either as erotic or as vulgar and, thus, despised in academic and social circles.

It was true for example of Urdu poets in India, English poets in Britain and French poets in France. However, as the need to defecate is irrepressible, so were some writers who despite social as well as academic stigma wrote on the subject and gave us at least an idea in regard to toilet habits of human beings. Based on this rudimentary information, one can say that development in civilisation and sanitation have been co-terminus. The more developed was the society, the more sanitised it became and vice versa.

Toilet is part of history of human hygiene which is a critical chapter in the history of human civilisation and which cannot be isolated to be accorded unimportant position in history. Toilet is a critical link between order and disorder and between good and bad environment. [read full article]

There Are Worse Things Than Idealism, Surely? 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
You scored as Idealist. Idealism centers around the belief that we are moving towards something greater. An odd mix of evolutionist and spiritualist, you see the divine within ourselves, waiting to emerge over time. Many religious traditions express how the divine spirit lost its identity, thus creating our world of turmoil, but in time it will find itself and all things will again become one.





Cultural Creative












What is Your World View? (updated)
created with QuizFarm.com

But interestingly, changing my answer on one question that I "sat on the fence" upon shifts me to being an Existentialist (note that I'm tied at 63% correlation in Idealism, Existentialism and Cultural Creativism!). Well, John Fowles The Aristos was one of my favorite formative books in high school, even if it didn't make the list of the World's 10 Most Dangerous Books. [via Pinko Feminist Hellcat]

Wednesday, June 01, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 96 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink]