In the sky tonight: XXL full moon, plus…Mars

perigeemoon

Image credit and copyright: Anthony Ayiomamitis

From spaceweather.com:

If you think tonight’s Moon looks unusually big, you’re right. It’s the biggest full Moon of 2010. Astronomers call it a “perigee Moon,” some 14% wider and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons of the year.

Johannes Kepler explained the phenomenon 400 years ago. The Moon’s orbit around Earth is not a circle but an ellipse, with one side 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other. Astronomers call the point of closest approach “perigee,” and that is where the Moon will be Friday night through Saturday morning.

A good time to look is around sunset when the Moon is near the eastern horizon. At that time, illusion mixes with reality to produce a truly stunning view. For reasons not fully understood by psychologists, low-hanging Moons look unnaturally large when they beam through foreground objects such as buildings and trees. Why not let the “Moon illusion” amplify a full Moon that’s extra-big to begin with? The swollen orb rising in the east may seem close enough to touch.

And what’s that bright orange star right beside the Moon? IT’S MARS! In a coincidence of celestial proportions, the Moon and Mars are having close encounters with Earth at the same time. Moreover, the two will spend Friday night gliding across the sky side-by-side…

Readers with backyard telescopes should train their optics on Mars. It looks bigger through a telescope now than at any time between 2008 and 2014…

More at spaceweather.com

"Corporations as Uber-Citizens": Douglas Rushkoff on the Supreme Court

Corporations as Uber-Citizens
by Douglas Rushkoff

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling was positive in one respect: it made law out of what was already happening. While corporations earned “personhood” back in the 1860s when a (likely bribed) court clerk added this language into the margins of another court decision, they never quite had the rights of citizenship before. They already write our laws (through lobbies) elect our leaders (with money) and create public opinion (with money and PR). (If you’re interested in how and why that happened, please read my book Life Inc.) But they have always tended to do so by working around government’s efforts to limit their influence.

It was a losing game for a government by the people, of course, because almost no one gets into office without the kind of corporate assistance they need to pay back if they want to get into office again. Meanwhile, while corporations have enjoyed the benefits of personhood for over a century, they don’t suffer the main pitfalls: chiefly, death—but also despair, fatigue, and the need to feed their kids. They could outrun or at least outlast any effort to curb their influence. That’s how the railroads got to trample States’ rights to their own land, how GE got out of cleaning the Hudson River, and so on. They just wait, make a little progress, and then wait some more.

The era of Obama seemed to promise something different. Continue reading

David Lynch and Frank Herbert talk about Dune

lynchherbertdune

“I get asked a specific question a lot of times, if the settings, the scenes that I saw in David’s film match my original imagination, the things I projected in my imagination. I must tell you that some of them do, precisely. Some of them don’t, and some of them are better. Which is what you would expect of artists such as David and Tony Masters. I’m delighted with that! Why not take it and improve on it visually? As far as I’m concerned the film is a visual feast.” – Frank Herbert

All 6 parts are here

FUCK-YOU MONEY

from : http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/fuck-you-money/

Zero Rupee Note
http://india.5thpillar.org/ZRN
http://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/paying-zero-public-services
“In India, petty corruption is pervasive – people often face situations where they are asked to pay bribes for public services that should be provided free. 5th Pillar distributes zero rupee notes in the hopes that ordinary Indians can use these notes as a means to protest demands for bribes by public officials. According to Vijay Anand, the idea was first conceived by an Indian physics professor at the University of Maryland, who, in his travels around India, realized how widespread bribery was and wanted to do something about it. He came up with the idea of printing zero-denomination notes and handing them out to officials whenever he was asked for kickbacks as a way to show his resistance. Anand took this idea further: to print them en masse, widely publicize them, and give them out to the Indian people. He thought these notes would be a way to get people to show their disapproval of public service delivery dependent on bribes. The notes did just that. The first batch of 25,000 notes were met with such demand that 5th Pillar has ended up distributing one million zero-rupee notes to date since it began this initiative. Along the way, the organization has collected many stories from people using them to successfully resist engaging in bribery.

Anand believes that the success of the notes lies in the willingness of the people to use them. People are willing to stand up against the practice that has become so commonplace because they are no longer afraid: first, they have nothing to lose, and secondly, they know that this initiative is being backed up by an organization—that is, they are not alone in this fight. For people to speak up against corruption that has become institutionalized within society, they must know that there are others who are just as fed up and frustrated with the system. Once they realize that they are not alone, they also realize that this battle is not unbeatable. Then, a path opens up—a path that can pave the way for relatively simple ideas like the zero rupee notes to turn into a powerful social statement against petty corruption.””

5th Pillar
http://india.5thpillar.org/
http://5thpillar.blogspot.com/

Zero Currency (Select by Country)
http://zerocurrency.org/
“Corruption in the form of bribery is prevalent throughout the world. The zero currency note in your country’s currency is a tool to help you achive the goal of zero corruption. The note is a way for any human being to say NO to corruption without the fear of facing an encounter with persons in authority. Next time someone asks you for a bribe, just take your country’s zero currency note and hand it to them. This will let the other person know that you refuse to give or take any money in order to perform services required by law or to give or take money to do something illegal.”

Corruption Perceptions Index
http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009

Institutional Corruption
http://blip.tv/file/3120038
http://change-congress.org/about/

"Forty-Six Strings and Some Truths": a conversation with JOANNA NEWSOM (2004)

Forty-Six Strings and Some Truths
Harp-playing folksinger JOANNA NEWSOM talks history, theory and inspiration with Jay Babcock

Originally published in Arthur No. 10 (April 2004) (available from Arthur Store)

The Lyon & Healy pedal harp is not a regular presence in rock clubs. It’s expensive, it’s big, it’s complicated. It has 46 strings, which cannot be re-tuned between songs during a performance. It’s difficult to master—basic competence requires years of training and practice. Outside of Bjork’s last album and recent tours, it’s an instrument almost without history in pop music.

So, when the 22-year-old Joanna Newsom appears onstage, alone, playing this exotic device, attention is inevitably paid, not just cuz you never see it done, but because, as Joanna says, the harp is usually associated by contemporary listeners with a single cheesy sound: the glissandi, a simple, artless running of the fingers across a broad span of strings, used as a decorative cue in sitcoms, films and commercials. Which means the simple act of witnessing a harp really being played—of runs of notes plucked with one hand while the other plays a fixed pattern—is gonna be novel. It’s as if your only experience of the electric guitar was the sound of a single power chord, and then suddenly you witnessed the playing of whole riffs, whole rhythms, whole melodic lines, whole songs…

Songs. It’s Joanna Newsom’s songs, it’s her lyrics, it’s her singular voice—accurately described by Currituck Co.’s Kevin Barker as “eight and eighty, dawn and dusk”—that makes the gawkers stick around, after the initial curiosity of seeing a harp played by a pixie from a California Gold Rush town wears off. Cuz what Joanna is doing is neither experimental, avant garde stuff, nor the pretentious bloat generally associated with the use of classical instruments on the rock stage. It’s instead firmly rooted in the folk tradition: verse-chorus songs with careful attention paid to lyrics and vocal performance. When Joanna sings “This is an old song, these are old blues/This is not my tune, but it’s mine to use,” she’s stating fact and ambition. She’s making a claim. It’s one that she’s earned the right to make.

With support and advocacy over the last couple of years from friends and admirers like Will Oldham, Devendra Banhart and Cat Power, she began to record her music and perform live. After making two home-recorded CD-R EPs, she released her full-length debut on Drag City this spring with the stunning The Milk-Eyed Mender, and will be touring with Banhart in the early summer.

Two weeks after seeing her wow drunk hipsters in a Seattle rock club, and after tagging along on the photo shoot for this piece, I interviewed Joanna for an hour by mobile phone. I was struck once again by her essential singularity—it extends even into her conversation, which is learned, humble, passionate and articulate. Here is some of what we talked about.

Continue reading