Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spotlight: Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010) was an American historian, academic, author, playwright, and social activist. Before and during his tenure as a political science professor at Boston University from 1964-88 he wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States. He wrote extensively about the Civil Rights and anti-war movements, as well as of the labor history of the United States. His memoir, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn's life and work.

World War II
Eager to fight fascism, Zinn joined the Army Air Force during World War II and was assigned as a bombardier in the 490th Bombardment Group, bombing targets in Berlin, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. The anti-war stance Zinn developed later was informed, in part, by his experiences. A U.S. bombardier in April 1945, Zinn dropped napalm bombs on Royan, a seaside resort in southwestern France.

On a post-doctoral research mission nine years later, Zinn visited the resort near Bordeaux where he interviewed residents, reviewed municipal documents, and read wartime newspaper clippings at the local library. In 1966, Zinn returned to Royan after which he gave his fullest account of that research in his book, The Politics of History. On the ground, Zinn learned that the aerial bombing attacks in which he participated had killed more than 1000 French civilians as well as some German soldiers hiding near Royan to await the war's end, events that are described "in all accounts" he found as "une tragique erreur" that leveled a small but ancient city and "its population that was, at least officially, friend, not foe." In The Politics of History, Zinn described how the bombing was ordered—three weeks before the war in Europe ended—by military officials who were, in part, motivated more by the desire for their own career advancement than in legitimate military objectives. He quotes the official history of the U.S. Army Air Forces' brief reference to the Eighth Air Force attack on Royan and also, in the same chapter, to the bombing of Pilsen in what was then Czechoslovakia. The official history stated that the famous Skoda works in Pilsen "received 500 well-placed tons, and that "Because of a warning sent out ahead of time the workers were able to escape, except for five persons."

Zinn wrote, "I recalled flying on that mission, too, as deputy lead bombardier, and that we did not aim specifically at the 'skoda works' (which I would have noted, because it was the one target in Czechoslovakia I had read about) but dropped our bombs, without much precision, on the city of Pilsen. Two Czech citizens who lived in Pilsen at the time told me, recently, that several hundred people were killed in that raid (that is, Czechs)—not five."

Zinn said his experience as a wartime bombardier, combined with his research into the reasons for, and effects of the bombing of Royan and Pilsen, sensitized him to the ethical dilemmas faced by G.I.s during wartime. Zinn questioned the justifications for military operations that inflicted massive civilian casualties during the Allied bombing of cities such as Dresden, Royan, Tokyo, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, Hanoi during the War in Vietnam, and Baghdad during the war in Iraq and the civilian casualties during bombings in Afghanistan during the current and nearly decade old war there. In his pamphlet, Hiroshima: Breaking the Silence written in 1995, he laid out the case against targeting civilians with aerial bombing.

Six years later, he wrote: "Recall that in the midst of the Gulf War, the U.S. military bombed an air raid shelter, killing 400 to 500 men, women, and children who were huddled to escape bombs. The claim was that it was a military target, housing a communications center, but reporters going through the ruins immediately afterward said there was no sign of anything like that. I suggest that the history of bombing—and no one has bombed more than this nation—is a history of endless atrocities, all calmly explained by deceptive and deadly language like 'accident', 'military target', and 'collateral damage.'"

Academic Career
After World War II, Zinn attended New York University on the GI Bill, graduating with a B.A. in 1951 and Columbia University, where he earned an M.A. (1952) and a Ph.D. in history with a minor in political science.

He was Professor of History at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia from 1956 to 1963, and Visiting Professor at both the University of Paris and University of Bologna.

In 1964, Zinn accepted a position at Boston University, after writing two books and participation in the Civil Rights movement in the South. His classes in civil liberties were among the most popular at the university with as many as 400 students subscribing each semester to the non-required class. A Professor of Political Science, he taught at BU for 24 years and retired in 1988 at age 64.

"He had a deep sense of fairness and justice for the underdog. But he always kept his sense of humor. He was a happy warrior," said Caryl Rivers, journalism professor at Boston University. Rivers and Zinn were among a group of faculty members who in 1979 defended the right of the school's clerical workers to strike and were threatened with dismissal after refusing to cross a picket line.

Zinn came to believe that the point of view expressed in traditional history books was often limited. He wrote a history textbook, A People's History of the United States, to provide other perspectives on American history. The textbook depicts the struggles of Native Americans against European and U.S. conquest and expansion, slaves against slavery, unionists and other workers against capitalists, women against patriarchy, and African-Americans for civil rights. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1981.

In the years since the first edition of A People's History was published in 1980, it has been used as an alternative to standard textbooks in many high school and college history courses, and it is one of the most widely known examples of critical pedagogy. The New York Times Book Review stated in 2006 that the book "routinely sells more than 100,000 copies a year".

In 2004, Zinn published Voices of A People's History of the United States with Anthony Arnove. Voices is a sourcebook of speeches, articles, essays, poetry and song lyrics by the people themselves whose stories are told in A People's History.

The People Speak, released in 2010, is a documentary movie inspired by the lives of ordinary people who fought back against oppressive conditions over the course of the history of the United States. The film includes performances by Zinn, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Viggo Mortensen, Josh Brolin, Danny Glover, Marisa Tomei, Don Cheadle, and Sandra Oh.

Zinn was swimming in a hotel pool when he died of an apparent heart attack in Santa Monica, California on January 27, 2010. He had been scheduled to speak at the Santa Monica Museum of Art for an event titled "A Collection of Ideas... the People Speak."

In one of his last interviews he said he'd like to be remembered "for introducing a different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human rights, about equality," and "for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns, that the power ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it. At certain points in history, they have used it. Black people in the South used it. People in the women's movement used it. People in the anti-war movement used it. People in other countries who have overthrown tyrannies have used it."

He said he wanted to be known as "somebody who gave people a feeling of hope and power that they didn't have before."

» A Kinder, Gentler Patriotism
» Howard Zinn on Tumblr
» HowardZinn.Org: His Vital Work and Legacy

Monday, November 28, 2011

NBA Lockout Is Over!

"Training camps and a frenzied free agency period are expected to start Dec. 9, followed by a limited preseason slate before a nationally televised tripleheader opens the season Dec. 25."
The NBA has outlined plans for the delayed season as the finishing touches are put to the league's new labor deal.

The regular season would run through April 26 and require teams to play at least one set of back-to-back games if a new labor deal is ratified in time to start at Christmas.

The league posted an outline of what the schedule would look like via its Twitter feed. The plan is a 66-game regular season, ending about 10 days later than usual. The last possible day of the NBA finals would be June 26, two weeks later than the championship series ended last season.

Teams would play 48 games within their conference and 18 non-conference games. No team would play on three straight nights more than three times. Back-to-backs might also be played during the second round of the postseason.

Owners and players are still putting the finishing touches to a new labor deal.

A handshake deal was announced in the early hours of Saturday to end a five-month dispute and salvage the 2011-12 season, owners' representatives and players' union officials were hammering out the finer points of an agreement that still has to be ratified by both sides.

Before free-agent signings can begin and training camps open, 15-of-30 owners must approve the new collective bargaining agreement while the union needs a majority vote from its 430-plus members.

The players must also reform their union, which they dissolved on November 14, to pursue an anti-trust remedy to the labor dispute before putting the deal to a vote.

When the tentative agreement was announced on Saturday, details were vague beyond plans for a 66-game regular season that would open on Christmas Day with a triple-header featuring marquee teams like the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and champion Dallas Mavericks.

Selling the deal may prove difficult for both sides with some players saying they have made too many concessions while hard-line owners believe the opposite.

Saying they lost $300 million last season, owners entered negotiations demanding a hard salary cap system similar to the National Hockey League's, non-guaranteed contracts and a bigger cut of basketball-related income (BRI).

According to reports, owners will get a bigger slice of the BRI pie with the 57 percent players received in the previous agreement trimmed to between 49 and 51 percent depending on various economic factors.

However, instead of an overhaul and a hard cap, owners settled for tweaks to the existing luxury tax cap system hoping they will be enough to bring parity to the league and keep big-spending, big-market teams from scooping up top players as Miami and New York have done.

While players took a cut in revenue, they gained major concession from the owners on complex "systems issues" allowing luxury tax-paying teams to keep some form of the mid-level exceptions and still able to participate in sign-and-trade deals - although both are believed to come with restrictions.

"I think (the deal) will largely prevent the high-spending teams from competing in the free agency market in a way that they have been able to in the past," NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver told reporters.

"It is a compromise and it is not the system we sought out to get in terms of a harder cap but the luxury tax is harsher than it was in the past deal and we hope it's effective. This was not an easy agreement for anyone.

"Owners came in having suffered substantial losses and feeling the system wasn't working fairly across all teams and I certainly know the players had strong views about expectations in terms of what they should be getting from the system so it required a lot of compromise from both parties," said Silver.

While the owners and players have reached agreement in principle on major issues there are numerous other items in the reported 10-year deal that must be negotiated including drug-testing and the minimum age for league eligibility.

"There is a lot of work to be done in a lot of places, with a lot of committees and player groups and alike, but we are optimistic that it will hold and we will have ourselves an NBA season," NBA Commissioner David Stern said upon emerging with the deal.

More information:
» USAToday: Deal Not Perfect But Both Sides Can Go With It
» ESPN: "Did We Learn Anything from the Lockout?"
» The Top 15 Free Agents

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Space Porn

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.
Time lapse sequences of photographs taken by Ron Garan, Satoshi Furukawa and the crew of expeditions 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011, who to my knowledge shot these pictures at an altitude of around 350 km with a high ISO HD Camera developed by NHK Japan, nicknamed the SS-HDTV camera. Music: Jan Jelinek's "Do Dekor (Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records)"

Galaxies in Real and Simulated Universes from Risa Wechsler on Vimeo.
We see galaxies in the sky, but cannot see the dark matter clumps surrounding them. However, we can simulate them as they form in a model Universe. The Bolshoi supercomputers create this simulation of the large-scale structure of the universe by first examining the data from NASA's WMAP explorer, which maps out the cosmic microwave background radiation. The video compares data from the supercomputer with the distribution of galaxies observed in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, or SDSS.

The Doors Perform Reading Rainbow

Monday, November 14, 2011

Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez Rivalry

LAS VEGAS -- The wait has been three years for a third helping of the great Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez rivalry, but will it be worth it? And will the outcome provide closure to one of boxing's greatest modern rivalries?

They have met twice before in epic battles that ended in controversial decisions, a draw in their 2004 featherweight championship fight and a Pacquiao split-decision victory in the rematch, a 2008 junior lightweight championship bout.

And now they meet again Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET, $54.95) for Pacquiao's welterweight title at the sold-out MGM Garden Arena, the same site as the first fight. Each has something to prove in one of boxing's all-time trilogies.

"The first two fights were as close as any two fights could be," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. "This fight will conclusively demonstrate who the better fighter is and settle a point of contention which has been going on for years."

Said Pacquiao: "This will be an exciting fight because our styles make for exciting fights. He likes to fight toe-to-toe, as I do. We both like action and to engage our opponents. I expect Marquez to be faster and stronger than the last time we fought. He is the ultimate competitor. I am prepared to go another brutal 12 rounds just like the previous two fights.

"There will be a lot of action in this fight. We both have a lot of pride when we enter the ring representing our countries, fighting for the honor of our nations."

Pound-for-pound king Pacquiao, the singing congressman from the Philippines and the only eight-division titlist in boxing history, is a significant favorite. He aims to leave no doubt about his superiority against lightweight champion Marquez, the popular Mexican star and three-division champ who is moving up in weight.

"Marquez has the right to make alibis about not winning our two previous fights," Pacquiao said. "It's because of those alibis that I am so motivated for our upcoming fight. I want to end all the questions he has raised about who won our past fights and who the better fighter is. I have something to prove in this fight."

Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) has every reason to believe he is the better man, even if many believe Marquez was the rightful winner the first two times. It is Pacquiao who is 1-0-1 against Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs), having knocked him down a total of four times -- three times in the first round of the first fight and once in the third round of the rematch.

"I just want to clear out the doubts in the minds of some fans," Pacquiao said.

There are three significant differences between then and now, which Pacquiao believes will make a big difference for him.

One is that he is now a seasoned welterweight (although the fight is contracted at 144 pounds, three fewer than the division limit) used to fighting bigger men.

"I'm bigger. I've been fighting bigger guys for a few years now -- [Antonio] Margarito, [Oscar] De La Hoya, [Shane] Mosley, Miguel Cotto," Pacquiao said. "They're all big."

And Pacquiao beat all of them in resounding fashion.

Another attribute that Pacquiao, 32, points to as an advantage is his evolution as a fighter. Back when he and Marquez previously met, Pacquiao was essentially a one-handed fighter. He's a southpaw and his left hand is deadly, but his right hand was not much of a weapon. He and trainer Freddie Roach have worked on it for years, and it has since become very dangerous and a big part of his arsenal.

"It's a big difference. My right hand is well-developed and I know how to fight," Pacquiao said. "I am a more complete fighter than when we fought previously. I am now a two-fisted fighter. My right is as potent, as powerful and as dangerous as my left. I have as much confidence in my right as I do in my left."

There is also the fact that Marquez, 38, who can brawl with the best of them, is a counterpuncher at heart and gave Pacquiao problems.

"I've been studying since the last two fights how to fight a counterpuncher," Pacquiao said. "Before, we didn't study how to fight a counterpuncher. Now we have perfected how to fight a counterpuncher."

There is another factor, although it is an intangible: Pacquiao's desire to make a statement. Although he takes the high road and has shown Marquez immense respect, there is a palpable sense that Pacquiao wants the knockout.

Those around him say he felt disrespected by Marquez, who has cried for years that he was robbed in both fights, who took to wearing a T-shirt at public appearances that proclaimed in bold letters, MARQUEZ BEAT PACQUIAO TWICE.

"He is tremendously invested in this fight, emotionally invested in this fight," Arum said of Pacquiao. "He wants to win and win convincingly."

Roach has been outspoken about the desire for a knockout victory.

"Manny never predicts and will never say anything bad about this guy, but [Marquez] slapped him in the face when he went to the Philippines wearing a shirt that said 'I beat Manny twice,'" Roach said. "Manny doesn't like this guy, I know that. It's been a little extra motivation for him. And I think after [Floyd] Mayweather couldn't knock this guy out, I think we need to knock this guy out, especially after the last fights [decisions against Mosley in May and Margarito last November] where Manny carried both guys. At this stage, we need a good ending. A knockout is always good."

Marquez, a significant underdog at the MGM's sports book, is out to prove that his excellent performances against Pacquiao were no accident and that he can finally get an official win against his greatest rival -- even if it comes in a weight class where, in his only previous fight, he got knocked down and lost a virtual shutout decision to Mayweather in 2009.

"We are going to clear all the doubts from the first two fights, and I feel very good about it," said Marquez, who has added muscle as he has bulked up. He believes the Mayweather fight should be discounted, saying he did not put on the weight properly last time.

"I had problems moving up, but I would rather fight Pacquiao three or four more times than fight Mayweather once," Marquez said. "Mayweather is a defensive fighter -- he doesn't let you fight. But we know Pacquiao comes to fight and he is a spectacular fighter. He is always going to give you a fight, and that's why I know it will be a war between us."

Marquez said he isn't concerned about the fact that he is an older fighter now. He blitzed through Likar Ramos in the first round in a July junior welterweight fight that was a farce, as Ramos basically laid down. In Marquez's most recent real fight, he stopped Michael Katsidis in the ninth round of a lightweight title defense last November -- but he was badly hurt, dropped in the third round and nearly knocked out.

"I don't believe age has anything to do with it," Marquez said. "I prepare myself very well and I'm going to be just as good as I would have been a few years ago. As long as I had the good training camp that I had, I'll be fine."

As sick as Pacquiao is of hearing about it, Marquez doesn't back off his claim that he was the rightful winner of the first two fights.

"Well, if he is upset about what I said about winning the first two fights, I am upset that I didn't get the decision," Marquez said. "I am motivated just as much as he is. We all have opinions and my opinion is that I didn't get the decisions I deserved.

"All the preparation has been done. Now it's just about having the fight of my life to settle everything once and for all."

Herman Cain For President

Axe Commercial Banned in South Africa

A heavenly ad is turning hellish for Axe.

The deodorant brand has seen its latest campaign banned in South Africa because its depiction of gorgeous angels falling from heaven offends Christians, the Daily Mail reports.

Carrying the tagline "Angels Will Fall," the 60-second commercial sees models sporting wings and halos crashing down from the sky as a man walks down an Italian street.

Following a complaint from a male Christian viewer, who said he was upset by "the suggestion that God's messengers could literally fall for a man on the basis of his shop-bought fragrance," the country's Advertising Standards Authority moved to ban the ad on the presumption that other viewers would also be offended.

"The problem is not so much that angels are used in the commercial, but rather that the angels are seen to forfeit, or perhaps forego their heavenly status for mortal desires," the ASA ruled.

"This is something that would likely offend Christians in the same manner as it offended the complainant."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

3D Time-Lapse of San Francisco

This video, called "Deus Ex Homine," is a stereoscopic 3D motion-controlled time-lapse by artist Peter H. Chang.

Here's a little insight into Peter's creative process:
"Canon 5D Mark II's were used in both parallel and beamsplitter configurations for true, native stereo capture at 5.6K resolution RAW. The camBLOCK and Dynamic Perception were used for motion control. There were some major technical hurdles with both capture and post, but once we saw the results in 3D, it was well worth it."

The 1080p, 2D version is above for the benefit of our readers—and is plenty beautiful in its own right—though if you have some 3D glasses handy, head over to YouTube to see it in three glorious dimensions. Just hover over the 3D button, click "Change Viewing Method..." and switch to your 3D mode of choice. Naturally, 1080p is recommended if your computer can handle it at full-screen.

Edited by Peter Chang
Color correction and grading by Brad Kremer
Produced by Peter Chang and Christopher Frey
Music by Michael McCann "Icarus" from Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip - "Letter From God To Man" (2007)

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip are a hip-hop duo, combining electronic beats with sung, spoken, and rapped lyrics. The pair are Daniel Stephens (aka dan le sac; production, programming, keyboards, guitars and backing vocals), and David Peter Meads (1981-) (aka Scroobius Pip; vocals/rapper). The name "Scroobius Pip" is an intentional misspelling of the Edward Lear poem, The Scroobious Pip. dan le sac originally hails from Corringham and Scroobius Pip from neighbouring Stanford-le-Hope in Essex.

On Christmas Eve 2007, whilst still unsigned, the duo released a free download of "Letter From God To Man" which includes a sample of Radiohead's "Planet Telex".

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

American Sets "Largest Wave Surfed" Record

Huffington Post:
American professional surfer Garrett McNamara just broke the world record for "Largest Wave Surfed" by successfully navigating this 90-footer off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal. The previous world record (77 feet) was set by Mike Parsons in 2008.

McNamara's amazing feat took place in Praia do Norte, Nazare, Portugal, during the ZON North Canyon Show 2011.

According to the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute, as reported in Drift Magazine, "the proximity of the 'Nazare Canyon' to Praia do Norte creates a situation that greatly increases the swells intensity."

"I feel so blessed and honored to have been invited to explore this canyon and its special town," McNamara told Surfer Today. "The waves here are such a mystery."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Cataracs - "Top Of The World" w/ Dev

best youtube comment: "This porn has really good music."

The Cataracs are an American hip hop indie-pop duo formed in Berkeley, California, consisting of David “Campa” Benjamin Singer-Vine, a songwriter and vocalist and Niles “Cyrano” Hollowell-Dhar, a songwriter, vocalist, and producer. The duo started out as an independent group, during their years at Berkeley High School. The two were first signed to the label Indie-Pop. They are currently based in Los Angeles, California.

The song "Top Of The World" was released as a single on March 22, 2011 as a digital download in the United States and Canada and currently serves as the first single released from the duo's upcoming fifth studio album, 12.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Flying Lotus - "Zodiac Shit" (2010)

Flying Lotus (born Steven Ellison) is an experimental multi-genre music producer from Los Angeles, California. His debut album, 1983, was released on Plug Research Records in 2006. He produced much of the bumper music on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block, for which he is uncredited.

His third album, Cosmogramma, was released on May 3, 2010, in the UK and May 4, 2010, in the U.S. The title comes from an incident when he was listening to an Ashram lecture from his great-aunt Alice Coltrane and he misheard the words "cosmic drama" as cosmogramma. The album was awarded the top spot in Exclaim! Magazine's annual ranking of Electronic albums.