The ears have walls

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bowie's Arcade

Check out this Flick photo set of David Bowie's surprise Central Park appearance with young Canadian indie upstarts Arcade Fire, whose debut album 'Funeral' Bowie famously picked as his favourite record of 2004.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cokes, Crisps and Glocks.

A number of handgun vending machines have been placed in university campuses and shopping malls around South Africa, which suffers from one of the highest per capita instances of gun violence in the world. The machines were installed as part of a campaign to make the public more aware of just how easy it to get your hands on a weapon. The line under "insert coin below" reads: "Your donation will go to the Gun Control Alliance, for a gun-free South Africa".

Via We-make-money-not-art.

For he's a jolly good Special Theory of Relativity...

Albert Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2, is 100 years old today. September 27, 1905 is generally considered the birthday of the equation because that is the day that Einstein's paper outlining the significance of the equation arrived in the offices of the German journal Annalen der Physik.

Via Wikinews.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bird vs. Plane

The Smithsonian Institute has a whole department which deals with 'Snarge', or the bloody, pulpy mess that's left over when a plane hits a bird while flying. Check out this Wired photo gallery of what happens when avian meets aviation at super high speeds.

South Africa facing land grabs?

A South African farmer in the country's North West Province could lose his land when a notice for expropriation is served on him by former occupants who claim that the land was unlawfully taken from them during in the late 1930's.

Three portions of the farm had been acquired, but Visser had refused the R1,75-million offer for the 45ha he occupied. Visser said if what was happening had been in accordance with the land restitution policy, he would have had no problems.

"What is happening here is a self-enrichment scheme that needs to be challenged. I never thought of going to court, but I have been forced to do so.... No one should expect me to just fold my hands when something I struggled for is being taken away in this manner."

Read the full story here.

Is this the start of a mass land-grab along the lines of what happened in neighbouring Zimbabwe? If it is, then it is inevitable that the country will be the worse for it. It was proven beyond all doubt that the re-distribution of wealth and land needs to be supervised at all levels by an international body with powers to intervene wherever necessary. If things go the way of Zimbabwe then all that lies ahead for this beautiful country is decay and eventual ruin. Don't fuck it up Thabo Mbeki.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Late edition

Ok I know I have been really slacking off on the blog in the last week or two. Work has been fucking mad and I haven't had a minute to check out what's happening on the interweb or to post a thing. Today's a little quieter so I'll try get a few decent posts in during the night. Bear with me gentle reader......

A quick recap of my week:

I got a call from a girl I met last year when still living down in the country. She's from just outside Frankfurt in Germany and we met on a drunken night out in Galway ages ago, but she had to leave to go back to Deutschland a week or so after we met so I never really got the chance to see if it would fit. We kept in semi-regular text and email contact for a few months but that kinda tapered off.. as those things do. Anyways, I got a call from her on Sunday saying she was back in Ireland and really wanted to see me. I, obligingly as always, have decided to take a train down to Galway on Friday night just so I can spend the evening with her. She's flying back home Saturday so once again she'll be leaving me before I know it. Fuck it. If I don't go down to see her then I'll spend the rest of my life wondering 'What If' and I hate playing that game. We'll see how it goes. I'm excited about seeing her and for the first time I'm not really thinking about M. (the other.. see earlier posts) with seething anger and a sense of monumental failure in my heart, which Dr Phil tells me is the first step to recovery and healing. Daytime TV saved my life y'all, and now I'm paying it back in spades.

In other news, I saw a body being dragged out of the Liffey river today on my way in to work. We were in the bus when two or three fire trucks came flying past with their sirens wailing and stopped on the Millenium bridge. People were already beginning to line the quays to get a look. Some rescue guy leapt into the water, swam out about 15 metres and brought this guy up from under the water. He then started to slowly drag him towards the ladder mounted on the side wall but you could see that the guy was dead already. He had probably been in the water for some time by then, and the other rescue personnel along the quay had a body bag out waiting. It was probably a suicide, but I can't find any reports on the web yet. One of my co-workers mentioned that they don't like to advertise suicides, especially ones as high profile as this one - In the middle of the day in the centre of the busiest part of town, right by the tourist hubs. Stands to reason I suppose. Given the morally ambivalent attitude towards those sorts of things in this neck of the woods I wouldn't be surprised if it hardly warrants a mention on the evening news bulletins. At the end of the day it's just some bloated, discoloured dead guy being fished out of the polluted water and hoisted manfully on to waiting ambulance while thousands of morbidly curious and snap-happy tourists look on. I don't know why, if they saw this guy in the water earlier, no-one jumped in to try save him. Fear of picking up cholera from the water? Inability to swim? Complete lack of human emotion and feeling? Who knows... like I said. Just another dead guy.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Jacinda

the day began as every other summer's did
stifling hot and infinite in possibility
threw on my too-big 501's and headed out into the street
she was waiting for me
hands shielding the glare from our living room windowpane
a frown across her face

we walked through the deserted square
towards the old abandoned porno movie theatre
there's nothing left but the broken dreams
of jilted, breathless teenage queeens
projected onto the tattered screens
in matinee's of indecency.

it was going just as I had planned it that day
our hands brushed briefly as we crossed the road
Oh Jacinda, my face betrayed the moment
for I nervously began to rub my eye
she said "there's no need to be in such a rush
we've got all day and this game has only just begun"

At the poolhall on the other end of town
we picked up a friend of ours, a quiet boy
a stranger but for the fact he lived near me
and a promise made to a neighbour's mom
is a promise that i had to keep
so we set off for the river shore, us noble three.

we sat down on the edge beneath
the arms of an overhanging weeping willow tree
and we spoke at length on treachery and loyalty
and all the things that dwell between
the sun dipped below the lowest leaves
Oh Jacinda, you're the biggest tease

But as the neighbours son turned round
his feet tracing patterns on the stony ground
I grabbed his shoulders from behind him
they felt so small, so undefined and
I pushed them harder than I should
for a harder shove had my own withstood.

and as his body beneath the murky water sank
we both watched helpless from the river bank
oh god please don't blame me
oh god why can't she see
it was nothing but a children's prank
conceived in vanity
just a way for me
to make Jacinda smile.

The emperor's not-so-new clothes

The cloak that Alec Guiness wore as Obi Wan Kenobi in George Lucas' original 'Star Wars' has turned up in a British fancy dress shop. The shop had been unwittingly hiring it out to punters for years, thinking it was just another cheap knock-off.

Company boss Tim Angel said the cloak was only discovered during a routine stock check."One of the guys was sorting through this pile of monks' robes and saw this brown one with an odd-shaped hood," he said."He put it on and the manager said, 'Oh my God, it's Alec Guinness's cloak from Star Wars'. It's unmistakable, an iconic piece."All this time we have been renting it out to customers wanting to hire a monk's outfit for a fancy dress party.

Read all about it here.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Sean Penn does his part

Renowned Hollywood actor Sean Penn has taken the plight of New Orleans' residents to heart by launching a boat and helping to rescue stranded people in the stricken city.

The Oscar-winning actor and political activist managed to reach several people who had been trapped in their homes since the hurricane hit Monday. Penn, who was accompanied by his personal photographer and a crew of helpers, brought the victims to dry land - and gave them cash as well. Johnnie Brown, 73, a retired custodian, called his sister on a cell phone after being plucked from his flooded house. "Guess who come and got me out of the house? Sean Penn the actor. Them boys were really nice," he said.

Read the full story here.

Personally, I wouldn't peg Sean Penn as the kind of guy to use something like this as a glorified PR exercise. However, I will be closely watching the press coverage in the next few days in the hope that I will be proven wrong and he'll completely destroy my faith in his ass. Oh ... how the mighty fall. In all seriousness, I think it's great what he's doing and there are many would-be celebrities who hide behind their fat wallets every time the shit hits the fan and not enough of them who actually get off their padded behinds and do something. More power to you Mr Penn.

Via Fark.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Love Arm

Ujino Muneteru, a Japanese artist/musician has created a collection of strange and terrible feedback machines - collectively christened 'Love Arm'. He plays these monstrous instruments on stage as one half of the art band 'Gorgeous'.

Ujino makes noise without using a guitar; and he thus distances himself from a history of American rock which centres around the guitar. But, paradoxically as he says, the bat is made from the same wood as the Fender and shares roughly its same weight and size. It is thus in some senses, a guitar Ujino 'plays', but one which has been totally transformed. The two most influential American icons which have entered Japanese modern culture are simultaneously merged and destroyed. He frees himself, if only for a moment, from those two great symbols of American culture in which he lives. The transformed bat/guitar truly becomes a 'Love Arm', an expression of his undeniable respect for these icons, and a weapon (arm) against them, using feedback and noise to make the two indistinguishable. Indeed, Ujino says of his works that they represent his philosophy towards the Unites States.


Via we-make-money-not-art.

Anti-rape condom for South Africa - is it viable?

A prototype 'anti-rape' condom has been developed by a female South African inventor. South Africa experiences one of the highest per capita instances of sexual assault in the world and it was probably only a matter of time before a drastic measure like this surfaced.

"Nothing has ever been done to help a woman so that she does not get raped and I thought it was high time," Sonette Ehlers, 57, said of the "rapex," a device worn like a tampon that has sparked controversy in a country used to daily reports of violent crime. [...]Ehlers said the "rapex" hooks onto the rapist's skin, allowing the victim time to escape and helping to identify perpetrators. "He will obviously be too pre-occupied at this stage," she told reporters in leinmond, a small holiday village about 100km (60 miles) east of Cape Town. "I promise you he is going to be too sore. He will go straight to hospital."

Read the full text here.

I'm from Johannesburg, and although in some cases this anti-rape condom will be a good thing, both as a physical deterrant and as a means to secure time for the victim to escape, it fatally assumes that the woman in question will be attacked by a lone assailant. Gang rape is a very common form of sexual assault in and around the poorer settlements of South Africa and I can imagine a situation where a group of men would murder the woman in question as soon as they saw their fellow attacker's penis getting caught in this device. It could potentially serve to inflame an already volatile situation

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Fear and Looting in America

My man 'cheeto55' from the Sonic Youth forum has posted a blistering and fearless first person account of what he witnessed when going with his wife to deliver clothes to the besieged Astrodome. The level of helplessness that pervades this entire situation is perfectly captured in this heartrending diatribe:

The administrators and politicians kept saying they did not need anything that they had enough of food and clothes, but anytime the reporters managed to talk to any volunteers or doctors or red cross people, all they could say was "we need EVERYTHING" and "whoever is telling you that there are adequate or sufficient supplies of ANYTHING, from food to manpower, is delusional". So I found a red cross worker and asked and she said if we took it into the dome someone would definitely use it. so we walked down the east ramp, into the saddest, most surreal scene I have ever witnessed in my life. We found a volunteer who took the clothes we brought and told us how much they were appreciated and we went over and signed up to volunteer. First of all, the Red Cross is the ONLY organization doing anything remotely organized. they have NO federal help. NO national guards, NO military personnel, Nothing at all. They are stretched to the limit in every possible way.


Click here for the full text.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Festival bound

I'm off to the Electric Picnic festival tomorrow, which is taking place in Stradbally Hall in Co. Laois here in Ireland. The lineup for it is fantastic: Flaming Lips, Arcade Fire, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Bob Mould Band, Kraftwerk and Mix Master Mike amongst others. I'm only heading down for the Saturday so I'll miss a few good shows on the Sunday but - alas, alack - I have to work. Someone has to keep the wheels turning in this country. There's also going to be a silent disco, a baroque-style carnival, cinema, homeopathic spa and massage centre, comedy tent and probably more organic muesli than you could shake a stick at. Full report and (hopefully) pictures to come in the days following.

Newsflash: 'Tissue regeneration gene' discovered in mice.

Scientists have created mice which can regenerate lost limbs and internal organs that have been damaged or removed:

The self-healing mice, from a strain known as MRL, were [...] subjected to a series of surgical procedures. In one case the mice had their toes amputated - but the digits grew back, complete with joints. In another test some of the tail was cut off, and this also regenerated. Then the researchers used a cryoprobe to freeze parts of the animals' hearts, and watched them grow back again. A similar phenomenon was observed when the optic nerve was severed and the liver partially destroyed.

Read more here.

The implication of this discovery for humans is huge. Imagine a future where amputees can regrow their limbs and people with damage to their internal organs can simply lie back while the affected organ regenerates itself.

Via Slashdot