Sunday, February 27, 2011

A History of Christianity- BBC Documentary

 I've recently become interested in learning about the history of religion. This is a big undertaking, but I think in doing so I am learning about a whole host of issues encompassing political history, the history of ideas, cultural history, art and literary history as well as the history of myth-making itself.

A History of Christianity is a six-part British television series originally broadcast on BBC Four in 2009. The series was presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of History of the Church at St Cross College Oxford, and considers the evolution of the Christian faith and its four main forms: Orthodoxy, Oriental Christianity, Western Catholicism and Protestantism.
Episode 2: Catholicism - The Unpredictable Rise of Rome
Episode 3: Orthodoxy - From Empire to Empire
Episode 4: Reformation - The Individual Before God
Episode 5: Protestantism - The Evangelical Explosion
Episode 6: God in the Dock

Thanks to the Atheist Media blog for the great find.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Night Music: Radiohead- House of Cards

I love this video. It looks as if it was made by an electron scanning microscope... Well, the truth is that the technology behind the images in the video is not all that unlike the technology behind the electron scanning microscope, just with lasers instead of electrons.

Here is an incredibly revealing video as to how it was made.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mr. Deity and the Showroom

I got a few of the Star Wars references, but I could tell there were more from the dialogue. I'm just not that big of a geek.

Japan Airlines' CEO pays himself less than the pilots, takes the bus to work

I saw this on Boing Boing today and thought that this is an excellent example of how a CEO of a major company might deal with an economic downturn and at the same time boost the morale of the workers he is employing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Swans live show

I don't know exactly what I was expecting when I saw the Swans last night, but what I got was better than anything I could have imagined. I've seen them three or four times in the 1990's and they were doing their folk influenced work during much of that.

What I got last night was the sonic onslaught they were famous for during the mid-eighties part of their career and my ears are still ringing from it. It is amazing to me that no band since then has managed to orchestrate that level of bombastic noise into something so beautiful... And then last night, some old guys with gray hair walked onstage and showed the youngsters how it's done... twenty-five years later.

They did two old songs, I Crawled from the Raping a Slave EP (1984) and Sex, God, Sex from Children of God (1986). I found video footage from both of those songs at other stops from the tour.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hatred of Atheists

Notes and facts about the most hated and feared minority...
I've seen many of these statistics before, but this person brings them all together nicely into one thoughtful and well argued video.

Baby trashes bar

I saw this on Boing Boing today and had to share.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Copyright control in degrees

Completely aside from the issue of file sharing is the artistic use of other people's copyrighted information in one's own work. And I do think that the legal penalties of this have to be looked at in a case-by-case basis... Is the perpetrator a non-professional individual who sampled someone who is represented by a major label, or is the perpetrator a professional musician on a major label who has sampled someone with no representation at all? The discrepancy between the individual defendant with almost no money for lawyers and the major label with almost unlimited money for a lawsuit is where copyright law seems to break down in my opinion. Obviously, if copyright law is a completely even playing field, then it is much easier for the people represented by major companies to defend the appropriation of songs or images than it is for individuals to defend the appropriation of songs or images from major companies.

First, look at a relatively unknown 1980's techno band called Cybotron. Listen to the keyboard track that starts at the 00:30" second mark and then compare it to the next video.

 Now, compare that to the award winning Missy Elliot song and you will quickly realize that it is the exact same song with different lyrics and some re-engineering. To my knowledge there has been no evidence of a lawsuit.
 And then compare that to a relatively unknown experimental band called Negativeland, who did an ironic spoof of a song by a more famous band called U2 as well as a radio announcer named Kasey Kasem.... I think you can guess what kind of lawsuit they got slapped with.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Keystone Shapes: Tilted Half Dome 2010

Paul Booker
Keystone Shapes: Tilted Half Dome- Detail View  2010
Lexan, Ink, Steel Pins

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two Islands:Side View

Paul Booker
Two Islands: Side View 2005
Lexan, Ink, Steel Pins

James Irvine Foundation Gives LACMA $500,000 for Watts Towers

The new partnership between the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to conserve and promote the Watts Towers has paid its first dividend—a big one, writes Mark Boehm in the Los Angeles Times.
The museum announced Wednesday that it has received a $500,000, one-year grant from the James Irvine Foundation to carry out its work on the towers. The city couldn’t have landed the grant on its own because the San Francisco–based foundation doesn’t fund government agencies.
Facing extreme financial pressure, the city, which manages the towers under a long-term contract with the state of California, which owns them, had budgeted just $150,000 for this year’s work, down from a peak of $300,000 a few years ago. Last spring Virginia Kazor, the historical curator who had supervised towers conservation, took an early retirement offered as part of the drive to reduce government spending.
Conservation work came to a standstill; Olga Garay, executive director of the Department of Cultural Affairs, said no one else on the staff had the expertise to oversee it.
Don Cherry  Brown Rice   1975
The solution was the partnership with LACMA, whose director, Michael Govan, has loved Simon Rodia’s folk-art masterpiece, now a national historic landmark, since the 1980s, when he was a graduate student at UC San Diego and made special trips to see it.
 Read more:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

BBC Horizon (2011) - What is Reality?

I've been interested in why people resist or disbelieve science. Whether it is astrophysics, climate change, quantum physics or evolution, scientists are finding out more and more about how the natural universe behaves. The information is there in hard facts, but it seems that the more science progresses in our understanding of how the universe behaves, the more people tend to disbelieve those findings.

That is perplexing from a scientific point of view, but not so much from an intuitive psychological point of view. I think it is Richard Dawkins who said that we humans tend to view the known universe from a medium-sized or human- sized perspective. That is, one in which size is not too microscopic and not too vast that it is beyond our comprehension, and in which time seems not too infinitesimally short, but also not so long that it defies our comprehension of what a long time really is. We tend to think of space and time in terms of our own bodies or our own lifetimes. For instance, for a child walking on the earth, it seems perfectly reasonable that the ground we walk upon is flat, and therefore, the earth is flat... It is when the realities of the studied universe go outside our intuitive comprehension of the way nature works that we have to rely on science to truly understand reality... And that is where intuitive belief and scientific knowledge part ways.

For an amazing and much more in-depth article on the subject I've just discussed, please visit and check out the article, Why do some People Resist Science?

Louis Theroux: The Ultra Zionists

The three Abrahamic religions do seem to have cornered the market on violent extremism in what amounts to a millenia old gang turf warfare over a small plot of land deemed holy or promised by the writings of iron age texts.

03 February 2011 BBC2
Louis Theroux spends time with a small and very committed subculture of ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers. He discovers a group of people who consider it their religious and political obligation to populate some of the most sensitive and disputed areas of the West Bank, especially those with a spiritual significance dating back to the Bible.
Throughout his journey, Louis gets close to the people most involved with driving the extreme end of the Jewish settler movement - finding them warm, friendly, humorous, and deeply troubling.

Extraordinary aerial footage of uncontacted Amazon tribe released

This unique film shows uncontacted Indians on the Brazil-Peru border in never-seen-before detail. It is the first-ever aerial footage of an uncontacted community. The footage was filmed by the BBC in collaboration with the Brazilian government, for the new BBC 1 ‘Human Planet’ series.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Charles Leadbeater on innovation

In this deceptively casual talk, Charles Leadbeater weaves a tight argument that innovation isn't just for professionals anymore. Passionate amateurs, using new tools, are creating products and paradigms that companies can't

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why I Should Never Have Kids

I find it very difficult to decipher when lying to a child is a good thing and when it's not. This video by Louis C.K. is a perfect example...