Steinbeck on Banks and Tractors

As an addition to the ‘gardening and violence’ theme, here are a couple of  short excerpts from John Steinbeck‘s classic novel ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ first published in 1939. Personally I thought it was all a massive bore when forced to read it in high school, but am finding it more interesting to re-read now. The story follows a family driven from their Oklahoma farm by large agricultural companies. It captures a moment of great historic change in America’s relation to rural land, and considers the experiential and philosophical effects of this new industrialisation. And its beautifully written:

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Kaki Lima

Mobility has a whole other dimension in Indonesia. Where it’s a complete headache to go anywhere in the grid-locked capital city of Jakarta, things come to you: soup kitchens, mattresses, monkey shows, tailors with sewing machines, second hand shoes, songbirds, stationery, coin rides, ice cream, herbal tonics, freshly ironed slacks, drag queen shows. Continue reading Kaki Lima

Slavoj Wonders as he Wanders in the Trash

Canadian documentary ‘Examined Life’ -which I haven’t seen the full version of- features a nest of contemporary thinkers, including the occasionally controversial Slavoj Zizek. In this short clip, he puts his mind to ecological ideology, to unexpected ends, where he posits that contemporary society must infact sever its connection with Nature, and instead develop its Artificiality instead, an abstract materialism, which he then challenges to arrive at poetry, spiritualism and love, a love for Earth which embraces its flaws, and ours. Worth chatting about…

disaster, disaster, disaster

This is a world of frequent tragic disasters. I’ve heard a few people lately comment about how they feel bad when they can’t connect emotionally to the enormity of some disasters, and wonder why some impact more than others.  I personally felt much more affected by the Victorian Bushfires and Samoan Tsunami than the current Haiti tragedy.  I think we shouldn’t worry about this.  We are social beings, and as such our emotional networks extend from family to friends to friends of friends.  Of course we can relate more to the suffering of those closest to us, and as much as we mentally and spiritually like the idea of universal concern,  its simply uneconomical to have a emotional empathy to six billion other humans.   To mark the almost anniversary of the apocalyptic sadness that engulfed parts of Victoria in Australia last year the guardian has written a stunning review of the events on that sad day.  Read it here.

30 Years!

There can be no doubt we are living in confusing times. The social pressures alone are enough to start one thinking about living an alternative lifestyle. Already many people are leaving the cities to live on the land, simply because they can no longer afford the costs of urban life.

Let us take a look at city life, the frantic rush and bustle on the streets, all that traffic and factories with all their pollution, noise and waste, and cynical exploitation by big business. And where are you? In the midst of the frenzied grime, paying high rent or struggling to cope with mortgage payments. Food and heating costs have rocketed, and we know they can only go up. You are working as many hours as you can to pay for city life, with little time for leisure, even less time to get to know your children, or to spend a few days with friends. Altogether it’s a vicious circle, a struggle for survival, with no time to think and be oneself. No wonder that crime is on the increase and mental institutions are overcrowded. If you haven’t fallen victim to one of these social ills, then you could be facing a coronary in your efforts to maintain the pace.


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Should to Shall

pal·in·drome (p?l?n-dr?m) n.

  1. A word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward. For example: A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!
  2. A segment of double-stranded DNA in which the nucleotide sequence of one strand reads in reverse order to that of the complementary strand.

The dictionary definition aligning  language with DNA makes for a convenient metaphor. Words are after all much like the building blocks of our whole whatchamacallit matrix.

In the video below, the words make the opposite of a palindrome. Instead of reading the same  both forwards and backwards, the message is the exact opposite when read in reverse, reclaiming the pessimistic view that there’s just no hope in our generation. It’s likely to warm the cockles of your heart.

The video has been youtube’s version of an Avatar blockbuster. It was made for a competition with AARP – American Association of Retired Persons – that strange “NGO”/insurance provider for people over 50. Even stranger, it was inspired by this political advertisement from Argentina.

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The Loudness Wars: Why Music Sounds Worse

Ever wondered why, despite all the amazing digital technology, the quality of music is getting shittier and shittier?  Here’s a great graphic explaining the increasing LOUDNESS of popular music, this because of the apparent need to compete for loudness on radio stations.  Click the graphic to go to the webpage that explains it properly. You can also down load the full pretty pdf.