Tuesday, June 28, 2011

bleak links: ddt to ducks edition

Drought, floods, shrinking icecaps, and Atlantis revisited in the Pacific provide plenty of material for the committed bleakophile's dark enjoyment.  In the midst of impending worldwide catastrophe, the blaring calliope of the farce politique finds GOP leaders bailing madly to keep their 2012 hopes afloat as their gunwales are swamped by message-stealing Tea Partiers and a growing perception that the minority party is so hungry to win back the White House and the Senate that it is actively obstructing the economic recovery.

Only the most determined aficionado is able to tune out the din of corporate reportage and seek the rarer delicacies which coat the pallet with gag-free goodness.

Allow us to demonstrate:

--- It was a simpler age when we sang DDT Is Good for Me-e-e!

--- It costs one million dollars to keep just one soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan cool.

--- Poverty porn eyes your bulging wallet.

--- College entrance exam wastes half of your time.

--- EFF is our BFF when the fuzz wants to see your junk (pdf).

--- Media makes poverty blacker than it really is.

--- We indulge our fetish for abandoned sites at a rocket factory (video).

--- Can meta recursion be funny?

--- The college president as chief entrepreneur in extremis.

--- Dope-digging duckies

--- Be a retronaut <--- our new favoritest word.  It's retrolicious.

--- Explore online media with Dr. Oblivion.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

a boulevard of broken dreams

A fan who frequently summers in Southern Europe told us of a museum she visited this week that inspires us to cheat our landlord and buy that trans-Atlantic-ticket-to-ride and see it for ourselves.

The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia offers a sumptuous buffet of objects representing the emotional debris that remains after the loved, the lover, or the love is gone.  Everyday items, each with its own story of a failed relationship become powerful symbols of affection, cruelty, longing, and emancipation.

While artful, this is no artistic creation.  Each piece on display was donated to the museum by victims and perpetrators of breakups, some of whom seem motivated by the need for solace, while others seem bent on seeking recognition, or revenge.  A hatchet lies on a table, hinting darkly at a violent and vengeful breakup.  A Teddy-Bear with a heart that says, "I Love You" recalls a tender moment passed and forever lost.  Some delightfully tacky pink and furry handcuffs reveal a couple's adventurous romps in the bedroom before things went sour.
Founders Olinka Vištica and Drazen Grubišić

The museum's curators believe that relinquishing these items, knowing that they will be on display, is therapeutic for the survivors of a broken relationship.  From the museum's website:
"Unlike ‘destructive’ self-help instructions for recovery from failed loves, the Museum offers a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation: by contributing to the Museum's collection."
Paying homage to a messy end is one way the Museum of Broken Relationships seeks to help clean things up and provide a balancing capstone experience to the celebrations that often marked its beginning:
"Our societies oblige us with our marriages, funerals, and even graduation farewells, but deny us any formal recognition of the demise of a relationship, despite its strong emotional effect."
Like moths to the bug zapper, we are drawn to any celebration of the bleak inevitability that all relationships we create with each other are but temporary liaisons; doomed to end one day through betrayal, resignation, or death.  We can't wait to stroll along this boulevard of broken dreams someday and sort through the museum's discarded artifacts from relationships that faded away, spun out of control, or just hit the rocks.  Perhaps we will mumble, "There, in spite of the grace of God, go we..."

The collection travels internationally, combining permanent traveling pieces with local objects drawn from the exhibiting community.

Zagreb not on your itinerary?  The traveling collection hits Houston, London, and Buenos Aires in the coming months.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

flash menagerie

Information wants to be free, and when it escapes, the results can be, well... weirdly satisfying.

File sharing software has long been the great emancipator of pirated music and movie files.    Millions have installed titles with names like eDonkey, Kazaa, Napster, Limewire, and Gnutella to gorge themselves on a worldwide buffet of rip'd CDs and DVDs only to unwittingly give the rest of us denizens of the Internet permission to thumb through their own personal collections of music, movie, and picture files.

Foundphotos.net is a repository of photos lifted from the hard drives of thousands of unknowing file sharers around the world.   Images from parties, weddings, portraits, family vacations, and goofs that were clearly unintended for our eyes are there for all the world to see.  Old and young people, lovers and loners, gangbangers and grandparents, all smile, mug, frown, or flip us off as if we ourselves are holding the camera.

Friday, June 17, 2011

site of the week: the best laid plans...

Dr. Hank Snaffler has a site that we are looking forward to loving a long time. Abandoned Journeys chronicles his explorations of abandoned buildings around the world.

bleakday's gentle readers know how we get all worked up over the symbols of a deteriorating society, especially when they include delicious photographs of once busy centers of human activity that have been abandoned and allowed to rot.

Snaffler's latest entry took us in another direction.  The Sathorn Unique, a 50-story high-rise in Bangkok, was abandoned before it was ever completed.  Finishing work had begun when the developers ran out of cash and investors ran out of confidence.  It stands high in the Bangkok skyline as a decaying monument to the Asian economic crisis of 1997.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Tale of Two Weiners

We've already seen far too much of Congressman Anthony Weiner and have left it to the rest of the world to make mountains out of his mole hill.  For us, it has been a predictable non-story from the beginning, not requiring too much imagination to know what was really going on:
Weiner: "I didn't do it."
Us: "Yes you did."
Weiner:  "I won't resign."
Us: "Yes you will."
Weiner: "I am so sorry."
Us: "Yes you are."
As we were waiting patiently for the scandal du jour to dry up and blow away, we couldn't help noticing the vas deferens vastly different treatment this story got from the left and right rings of the political circus.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

summer bleak links

---the oil apocalypse

---"Seven Problems a Recovery Won't Fix" by Umair Haque

---climate change and the rising price of food

---getting by without the middle class

---the disappearing fish in the sea

---"We're cooking our planet to refrigerate the diminishing part that is still habitable."

---air conditioning promotes obesity

---the news is turning into ideologically slanted misinformation

---looming shortages in water

---stuck in post-crisis gloom

---the dystopians

---how will the world really end?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Slaveships vs. Economy Class: No Comparison (please)

Steve Heller, over at Imprint, notes that a recent cramped airline trip reminded him of the similarly cramped conditions that slaves experienced on their cruises to America.  Mr. Heller has received quite a bit of flack accusing him of trivializing the horrific experiences that millions of humans faced on their journey from freedom to slavery.

We feel his pain.  Smaller seats, larger flight attendants, and cage-style wrestling matches to find a place for our carry-on makes us feel penned up and terrorized by our flight-crew overlords.  That cold smile you get from the steward/ess when you ask for the full can of soda really says, "I don't care what your old name was, your name is Cheesestick, boy!  Say it!."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hating the sin AND the sinner

The family values guys are at it again, although this time they have jettisoned that hot and itchy sheep's skin in favor of something a little more revealing (NSFWish).

Remember when the poor were
dignified and a little hot?
Probably use drugs: Rick can tell.
Florida Governor Rick Scott was trying to lead the mangy pack as he announced his state's new requirement that anyone who receives welfare will have to complete drug testing.  Nice one, Ricky... in an economy that nearly bled out and is in an anemic recovery at best, why not pick on the poor a little more?  Need some help? Pee in this cup.  Got a little THC in the bloodstream?  You can starve.

Gov. Scott, if you really want to solve the problem, get poor people a good dental plan.

We aren't in favor of subsidizing illegal drug use, but we think that attacking an entire population segment because some do bad things is just another kind of racial profiling and distracts us again from the real problems facing the U.S.  Yes, it looks good to go after the small-time do-badders, but really, the sanctimonious posturing and pandering to white fears is getting tiresome.

Scott with the base.  We'll bet he didn't bring up gutting
Medicare with these voters.
Here is the official bleakday prediction:  Gov. Rick Scott will keep on treading on the heads of the powerless, decrying the vast moral decrepitude of the poor, and his trembling white base will shake their heads, cluck, and send him money, votes, and the names of yard workers who look like they weren't born in Connecticut.  Within the next year, he will be making the rounds of the morning shows, explaining an affair, harrassment, a twitpic, or some form of substance abuse.  He'll apologize to his family and all the supporters he hurt, but never will he utter a mea culpa to those whose lives he ruined in the name of getting tough on crime.

You read it here first.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Winklevii Maneuver Revisited

One of the interesting things about being Fabulously Wealthy (F.W.) is that we can forget all that lower-level Maslow stuff and work on our own self-actualization.  In the absence of a daily struggle to survive, we are free to examine our bellybuttons help others with their struggles as an adopted raison d'etre.  We have discovered that the key to post-poverty happiness is to invest in causes that improve the earth and the human condition.  Many in our social circle believe that large-scale philanthropy is a way to achieve relevance beyond the simple creation of capital wealth.
But sometimes all this good-doing just isn't enough.  Sometimes, we need to dip our crazy bone into the warm depths of public lunacy.  Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg provides a classic example in his attempt to connect with his inner hunter-gatherer.  We have read here and here, among other places, that civilized man has been disconnected from the food s/he eats, although if that were truly true we wouldn't need toothpicks to get the clingy bits out.  Mr. Zuckerberg was epi-curious to find out what it feels like to kill a living beast, then eat it, thereby taking a more active role in the circle of life.