Friday, August 31

"The commander of the International Space Station (ISS) has expressed his concern to the BBC at the impact mankind is having on the Earth's environment." You can listen to the real audio of this story as well. Also to take a look at a map of early warning signs of global warming. Note how many are clustered over North America. (Via Metafilter.)

Thursday, August 30

Only insecure people insult other people.
Pictures like this of the earth at night do not make me feel inspired, rather, they remind me about the need for more things like dark sky preserves.

Wednesday, August 29

How horrible can we possibly be to each other? This story makes me sick.
A burning question for UNESCO from Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, the Italian Minister of Agriculture: Should pizza be immortalized as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity?"
First, the Boy Scouts got in serious trouble with Conservative America for not being "straight" enough. Now, the Girl Scouts are in hot water for being tolerant. So let me see if I get this straight (no pun intended): being tolerant is a sin, but being judgmental is not. Hmmm, interesting.

Tuesday, August 28

Citizens banding together and reading the same book at the same time - what a phenomenal project. Read here for more details. You know the drill - it's a NYTimes article: login: opensewer / password: iswatching.

Monday, August 27

How sad, our navy is installing sonar despite that it may hurt sea mammals. Anything for a stronger military.
via Rebecca's Pocket

Sunday, August 26

New artist Jee Won Yang presents seven simple, beautiful paintings that abstract her personal impressions of Italy.

Saturday, August 25

An interesting article in The Atlantic dated August 8, 1901 takes the position that sculpture depicting nude figures should be isolated from the general public. I went to a Christian high school, and took nearly all of the classes offered by our school’s limited (because is wasn’t a priority) art program. I had to do my figure drawing in secret, because the unclothed human form wasn’t allowed in visible sight. Most of the adults at that school had a mentality kind of like this guy from British Columbia. What is the state of art in America? Is it strong, or is it weak? As much as we deal with artists here at Opensewer, I’m not even sure. How large of a role does art play in American culture? Has anyone tried to quantify this? Apparently, art has enough teeth to get editorials like this one from conservative groups. I’ll get back to you on this topic.
If I was online more I probably would have found this a long time ago. Which leads me to this, a wonderful parody. Bow down to Metafilter--the website that will always know about everything before you do.

Friday, August 24

Tuesday, August 21

Monday, August 20

Yes yes yes yes YES…another excellent article on Alternet about the myth of race, color, crime and suburbia. White upper-middle class suburbanites are again surprised when one of their young turns out to be a cold-blooded criminal. From the article:

“…although underreported, drug data has long confirmed that the stereotypes of users and dealers (poor, black or Latino, and urban-dwelling) are not only racist, but also wrong. According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Department of Health and Human Services, whites are equally or more likely to use drugs than their African American counterparts, despite common misperceptions to the contrary.”

Saturday, August 18

Ever wonder what impact you, personally, have on the environment? AirHead has a quick little emissions calculator so you can find out - it might be shocking, the national average is around 1600 pounds. Listen to that: 1600 pounds of pollution per household per month, a household being an average of 2.64 people. Air Head also keeps together environmental information about news, laws, products and what to buy and what to avoid, many many statistics, tips on how to cut down on polluting on a personal level, and community bulletin boards. A great way to scare yourself into treading a little more carefully.

Friday, August 17

Friday entertainment: Dialtones: A Telesymphony A concert performed entirely through the ringing of the audience's mobile phones.

Thursday, August 16

Tolerance.org has a US map of hate groups - you may be surprised to find one right in your own town. They talk about what you can do to fight hate, what communities and groups are doing, and offer tests for hidden biases. [In the test section they do ask you to fill in information about your age and where you live - you can leave it all blank.] via dollarshort

Wednesday, August 15

Tuesday, August 14

Using children to do their marketing for them, at the NY Times (username: opensewer; password: iswatching). Thanks to Rebecca.
Clearer Guidelines Help Britain to Advance Stem Cell Work. “While American researchers wait for politicians to issue rules on research involving human embryos, scientists in Britain are working under a less restrictive and more predictable system that allows many forms of research on embryonic stem cells and cloning.” (New York Times article; username: opensewer; password: iswatching.)

Monday, August 13

NPR this weekend had some good stories on the recent Federal funding for stem cell research. The one that caught my attention was by Weekend All Things considered ("Stem Cell" and "Ethicist," listen here) about the decision affecting which stem cells can be studied. Most of the existing stem cell lines, which Bush has allowed federal funding for research on, are owned by private corporations. They are trying to get permission to patent any treatments developed by the research which is paid in tax dollars. This would allow them to sell those treatments back to us at whatever price they would like. By limiting funding in this way Bush is allowing businesses, not researchers, great benefit. We don't hear the private biotech corporations complaining do we?

They also talk about the fact that while people who oppose stem cell research on lines originating from human embryos on moral grounds are focusing on protesting the federal funding, there are no rules in place to stop private corporations from doing whatever type of research they would like. Private corporations are even starting to approach couples with extra embryos from fertility trials to purchase the embryos in order to develop stem cell lines. These are things we will need to address soon, and shouting about funding money isn't helping.

NPR has put together a special reports page collecting stories here.

Sunday, August 12

New artist Jason Goad illustrates a world of fallen angels, unfortunate events and bad girls.

Friday, August 10

Thursday, August 9

I find it incredibly sad that certain types of shows are doing well enough to inspire the Miss America Pageant (insipid and offensive to start with) to include reality television and game show tactics in the pageant this year. I suppose next year they'll include mud wrestling and beer chugging.
Here's an Alternet article discussing the CEPR study linked yesterday.

Wednesday, August 8

Are low and middle-income countries making greater progress in the period of globalization than in the prior era? According to this recent study by the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), the answer is a resounding “no.” (If you can’t bear to read the entire somewhat dry report, then just read the executive summary, introduction, conclusion and some of the charts at the end.) The study makes a strong (although sweeping) argument that the policy changes implemented by countries around the world during the era of globalization (1980-2000) have actually slowed economic growth, reduced progress in life expectancy increases, slowed the rate of reduction of infant mortality and slowed world progress in education. This is quite contrary to the daily overzealous praise we are fed about the benefits and joys of an unrestricted global economy. It’s not so bad to be skeptical.

Monday, August 6

Bad news—due to a death in the family of our New York City coordinator, Opensewer 9 NYC has been cancelled. Our hearts and minds are with you, Tiona.

Look for photographs and summaries of all the Opensewer 9 gatherings soon.

"It's the American dream updated." - Robert E. Lang, on census data showing that people have larger mortgages and longer commutes. This article is another good commentary in conjunction with Opensewer 9: The American Dream (NY Times article - login: opensewer, password: iswatching).

Sunday, August 5

Yum, yum…more goodness from Alternet. First, Davey D asks the eternal question, “If I'm a Nigga Is J-Lo a Spic?”—an interesting look at the development of the N-word over time, and the hot racial issues associated with it. Second, Wiretap, the youth-run information source backed by Alternet, reports some interesting statistics that may surprise many who like to make sweeping generalizations about contemporary youth culture (the stats are in the yellow page inset).

Saturday, August 4

Overgrown suburbs—and my guess is that most people don’t even see this as a problem. According to recent census data, suburban areas are outgrowing center cities all around the country. It’s a “lifestyle choice,” and what right do snooty urban planners, environmentalists and liberal politicians have to tell people how to live? (Did you detect my sarcastic voice?) I hate to sound like a broken record, but we all know that this is not sustainable behavior. This kind of selfish growth will, in the long run, weaken America in relation to the rest of the world. Many parts of the world already resent us for our rampant growth and conspicuous consumption of resources. If only everyone in the world had the privilege of our excessively comfortable lifestyle choices…

Friday, August 3

The president is taking a vacation twice as long as most Americans get in a year after only six months in office. Truly a people's president (via Metafilter).
First Catcher in The Rye, now this.

Thursday, August 2

Quite a buzz is beginning to form about the decade-old cafĂ©s philo movement, in which Opensewer has been rabid participant for nearly three years now. Even young hip (?) lawyers in Washington, D. C. are starting to get involved. Oh, my…could it be that…no, it can’t be true…could it be that this could become…popular?
Just when you thought humanity couldn't get any worse now comes along this. And there are more like this, but the first one is unbelievable. By the way, bids from tobacco companies, pornographic producers, or weapons manufactures will not be accepted. And hey, how about those shipping terms? C'mon, sing along with us: One Boy, boy for sale. He's going cheap. Only seven guineas. That or thereabouts...
People are starting to catch on that we are over fishing our waters. Some responsible markets and restaurants have stopped offering endangered fish, for the rest of us there is the Seafood Choices Alliance. They track species and what various organizations feel about them, and let you know if it is safe to eat the fish in their SeaSense database. Chilean Sea Bass for example might be delicious and trendy but the National Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Environmental Defense recommend you avoid it. They even offer an alternative, and if the fish is ok to eat, recipes. A good resource to check before you head to the market.
We knew it was coming but it is still bad news.
A letter from our "Beloved and Respected Comrade Leader George W. Remedial Bush" regarding the tax refund check!

Wednesday, August 1

I can’t believe people are falling for this. Disguised as fun, “Human for Sale” is collecting detailed demographic information about you, and associating it with your email and IP address! If this website were purely recreational, they wouldn’t request your email address before giving you the results. Read their privacy statement—they actually tell you what they will do with the information! Do you really want someone to know your breast/penis size and how often you visit adult web sites? Come on! Very misleading…I’m amazed more people haven’t seen through this scam yet.
Opensewer 9 Cleveland is tonight!
Instant gratification. Give me a body that will make people look at me, and give it to me now. Will somebody please remind me, when did we start believing that children knew what was best for them? Because, uh, they don’t. That’s why parents used to say things like, “You don’t understand now, but you will when you’re older.” I don’t think many parents use that phrase anymore.
Recycled link of the day: The Olive Garden, a restaurant we like to refer to as the “Ford Escort of Italian food,” is implementing a program called “H2NO” in an effort to discourage customers from drinking water at dinner. They claim that the goal of this effort is “increasing overall guest satisfaction”—oh, and by the way, it also might increase revenues. Duh. First, they broadcast the most insulting television advertising campaign in history. Then, they create embarrassingly stupid faux-Italian words like “Hospitaliano.” Now this. Ah, bourgeoisie marketing (via Metafilter).