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March 21 to 27, 2005
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Anti-War Sentiment in Popular Culture
Once upon a time, anti-war/pro-peace messages in mainstream media were a little more direct, involving protest music with pointed lyrics and shocking fashion. Now in today's information-cynical world, people are using subtle humor, retro design references, high-tech, and viral marketing to get their message across.

The movie "Meet the Fockers" recently became the highest-grossing live-action comedy ever, making almost $500 million worldwide:
No doubt the movie has star attraction (Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand), but I like to think that people enjoy plots in which uptight conservative people (in this case, a paranoid ex-CIA operative, played by Robert DeNiro) learn to be more attuned to themselves and others. "The Da Vinci Code", which has sold at least 7.5 million copies and broken TV network ratings records, follows "The Fockers" in the more general sense, offering a glimpse into a more holistic and environmentally-sensitive view of spirituality than has existed in mainstream culture. Whether or not the book is historically accurate, people seem to be genuinely interested in the ideas it presents.
This was a top item in news all over the world this week: Banksy, an artist mostly known for his quality graffiti work, snuck into New York's most famous museums and affixed his anti-war work to the walls, managing to avoid detection for three days:
My favorite work of his:
Bansky talks a little about his motivation and messages here:
Rock group Franz Ferdinand's music video "Take Me Out" won the "Breakthrough Video" award at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards. It uses high-tech techniques to create dense living collages patterned after dada and surrealist art of the 1910's and 20's, which was a response to the nonsensical violence and aftermath of World War I. Their video "This Fire" does the same thing with 1940's Soviet propaganda design. Whether intended or not, these videos hold a mirror to today's atmosphere of war, terrorism, surveillance, and long-distance pain rays - you can view them here. Note - try the "external player" link if the video freezes:
Finally, indie rock group the Decemberists released a high-res version of their music video "Sixteen Military Wives" via file sharing. They are among the first musicians to release a music video online with such high quality:
Their $6,000 video, which tells the story of what happens when a student representing the U.S. in a mock United Nations gets a little overzealous, is absolutely hilarious, professionally done, and is the catchiest, timeliest, funniest anti-war thing I've come across in any medium since 9/11. It's definitely worth repeated viewings, even if it is 78MB. You get can it here:
And here's a review of the album that "Sixteen Military Wives" appears on. I'm continually impressed by the quality of reviews at Pitchfork, clearly written by people that know and love music:
New Tech
Don't waste paper or plastic when shopping - carry around a key chain tote bag:
Contact lenses are being used for all sort of things these days. Here's some fashion glitter contacts that look pretty sexy:
Other contacts react to blood-sugar levels and dispense drugs:
Modern Life
Viral marketing is huge these days. In this article are a few dos and don'ts of viral marketing:
Here's a cool new food trend - food balls! They can be very healthy, can be dipped, they're easy to pack and store, make good snacks, and require no utensils to eat:
Another great historical overview from Mobile PC magazine. This time, they examine the evolution of the notebook computer:
Macs are starting to make under-the-radar inroads into companies. This is exactly how the Web got started in the corporate world, and CTOs and IT staff are beginning to think about what it means:
I was not aware of the secret of bananas before going here:
A blogged picture of a procession in Spain demonstrates the rising use of cell phone cameras to capture major events:
The original link:
Terrorism and You
"Regarding The CAT Scan Of Terri Schiavo's Brain":
Also, use your persistent vegetative state to be "cynically manipulated for the cause of your choice":
If the U.S. Constitution were written like an End-User License Agreement:
Los Alamos National Lab scientists find a way to detect fingerprints via their chemical residue:
Environment Hawaii, an independent, nonprofit, award-winning publication that has been around for nearly 15 years may be going out of business due to lack of financial support. It's the last 100% environmental news publication in Hawaii:
At last, "rising gas prices threaten viability of biggest SUV sales". Note that many Americans are still buying inefficient vehicles and driving them farther to boot:
BTW there are plenty of online resources today for anti-SUV bumper stickers:
But note that not all cars that waste gas are SUVs - here's the top ten gas-guzzling cars and trucks of 2005:
How about making a bumper sticker with "IWASTEGAS.COM" on it - the site could hold current information on gas guzzlers, fuel-efficient cars, and simple ways to save energy. The name's available!
Renting a car on Maui or Oahu? Try the Bio-Beetle, the first all-biodiesel rental cars in the world:
A new newspaper column only reviews cars that do better than 30 mpg. Let's see more columns like this:
The original link:
The beneficial powers of darkness and listening to one's body clock:
"The Basics on Genetically Modified Foods"
So few people know the basics about GMOs, the AP was prompted to write this article:
Here's what sumo wrestlers eat to grow weight, and the recipe for making it. Looks delicious!
Here's the best article on the walking octopus I could find:
This movie just continues to amaze me. Those things are smart!
Meanwhile, here's the best along those lines that humans can do so far. We have a long way to go:
A compliment to last week's interview with Robert Crumb, an interview with Aline Kominsky-Crumb, his wife:
The out-of-the-canvas artwork of Paul Critchley:
Transparent screens - I want something that changes with the amount of ambient light:
A lot of people commented this week on Tom Waits' top 20 albums of all time, a great list worth hearing. Why isn't there an iTunes Music Store playlist of this stuff?
U.S. music sales rise, despite massive amounts of file sharing action on the net:
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