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If anyone's reading this from the playa, give a shout. That's too cool a convergence. ^_^

Worth a listen, for some classically styled rock: Dirty Little Rabbits, out of Iowa. And 2K Games kindly made Gary Schyman's orchestral soundtrack for Bioshock available for free.

Ahhh. It's a bright, warm day, the Horde is away, and might not be back tonight.. maybe I should take advantage of the quiet time to watch all of Sátántangó? Or I could check up on this "outdoors" thing..

Here's a fan video for I Just Wanna Fuckin' Dance, from Jerry Springer: The Opera, set to a host of dance routines from throughout cinematic history. If you're feeling low, play this right now. But why wait until then? ^_^

rabitguy noticed the full interview of Fountain Hughes, from which samples were taken for the track mentioned last time, is available online. 'Strangely, one of the first things Mr. Hughes says, by way of introducing himself to posterity, is: "My grandfather belonged to Thomas Jefferson." As if, after 100 years of living, that's what he's most proud of – that his grandfather had been the slave of a great and famous white man.'

Finally, one of my favorite pieces by Fel is available fully finished off, in color - "Soro and Electricity". Not at all worksafe. =:D

If you only see one rabbity YouTube clip this month, make it this one, wherein one unsuspecting pooch discovers what it's like to become a lapine hurdle. The dog's expression at the end of it is priceless. =:D

ethethlay came across rather a cool Siggraph 2007 presentation, 4.5 minutes long, on "content aware" image resizing - rather than simply rescaling everything linearly, as we're accustomed to, this method pays attention to an image's features, preserving what it sees as the most noticeable portions, retaining their size throughout, at the expense of less important portions. Nifty seeing it in action - there are plenty of examples, including making people seamlessly (and effortlessly) vanish from a scene by denoting them as unimportant.

If you want to see John Pilger's The War on Democracy, it's now up on Google Video, as is the second part of The Enemies of Reason.

Damn, but Fixed Noise's Otto is a fun library to play with. What's not to like about an IDM collection - Kontakt 2-based, as usual, offering quite a large degree of freedom in manipulating the samples supplied - with presets like Warm Goat Tung?

'The tone in the mortgage market is "exceptionally cautious," Lonski [chief economist at Moody's Investors Service] said. "You're looking at what will be in all likelihood the worst case of home price deflation since the 1930s."' One good news resource on these matters is the Implode-O-Meter, tracking who's going under; their tally stands at 135 broke US lenders since late 2006.

Britain's new Violent Crime Reduction Act apparently includes provisions to ban people from a given area, taking their photo, fingerprints, and DNA sample, on the suspicion they may be about to cause trouble; no actual offense is required. Ostensibly, this is in order to tackle alcohol-related violence in cities.

The US housing/credit fun continues: "[For July] There was a 93% jump in filings for repossessions on the same month a year ago, and a 9% rise on June's figure, property firm RealtyTrac said." Meanwhile, one of the leading house builders, Toll Brothers, declared net earnings of $27m for the quarter, compared to $175m for the same period last year, including an $89m charge due to land values dropping. "Low- or no-documentation-required jumbo loans had accounted for 43 percent of the builder's sales, according to Bank of America."

BigBlueFox now has Anthrocon 2007 on offer - 3h40m in total, yours for only a 1.2GB download. ^_^

One in four US adults read no books in the past year, according to an AP-Ipsos poll, with the "typical number" being four books in the previous twelve months. I dare say this isn't anything new, though; the co-worker who drove me up to Portland back at the fossil factory was quite open about almost never having read any books, other than essential materials like manuals. (I wonder if this survey included graphic novels? There are worlds of wonder in, say, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, Cerebus, or Promethea)

mycroftb uncovered this talented sculptor bunny (NSFW, surprisingly enough). =:D

A quietly inspiring tale (with photo) of a fourteen year old Labrador, blind and deaf, whose companion, a ginger cat, plays the part of her guide, steering her away from obstacles, and leading her to food.

Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" as you've never seen it performed before - quite something. And there's lapinity to be found, too. ^_^ (Thanks to plushlover!)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Adult reading and literacy in the US has actually been steadily declining for decades. See this study by the NEA.
Good grief.. a 10% fall in twenty years? That's alarming. Perhaps Bush is more of a sign of the times than I'd feared..

With that spanning 1982-2002, I suppose the net's influence wasn't even that strong for much of the period examined - whilst I'm sure, as thewerewolf noted above, that people are reading a lot online now, I'm not as confident much of that's composed of what one might deem literature.

It'd be illuminating to see if people are offering their own reasons as to why that should be so - too busy, books rising in price, or outright just uninterested?
Based on my professional but subjective observations, the decline in literacy and reading has been going on at a steady creep for my entire lifetime. The internet is only a drop in the bucket when you go looking for the cause.

One factor is the persistent anti-intellectual attitude of US popular culture, going back at least as far as the Great Depression and the Roosevelt administration, when the educated populace were regarded as "eggheads" and "ivory tower intellectuals" and considered useless and non-productive. This same attitude has been raised again and again by the political right wing during my lifetime, though at one time it was a notion of the left. (Proving yet again that the two extremes are really creeping back toward one another on the opposite side of an endless circle.)

The second factor is the rise of what McLuhan called "cool media" which includes television and motion pictures, where participation is passive rather than active and does not require as much brain operation. Reading is "warm media" and requires the active work of the brain.

As our culture relies more and more on verbal communication (cell phones) rather than written, the demand for literacy and the ability to write coherently as well as read falls off. I find that a frightening percentage of adults who have graduated from high school or even had some college classes are just not able to read a complex sentence without significant effort on their part. Unless their very survival depends on it, they will do anything to avoid having to read and process that sort of input. The increase in non-verbal signage, supposedly to make things easier for speakers of other languages, has only contributed to this decline.

I don't have answers, only observations, which dating to before I ever saw that study. When I worked in a corporate environment, from about 1981 to 1994, I was repeatedly told to just call people or set up a meeting, rather than use written communication (even e-mail) because people find written communication "too threatening" and "hard to understand."

Here's an anecdote:

I used to ride a commuter train from Woodstock to Chicago every day to work. It was about a 90 minute ride, during which I would frequently be reading. There were a couple, who apparently worked together rather than being related otherwise socially, who often sat together and talked during the trip, in the same car I was in. They were well-dressed, obviously white collar workers, probably in a bank, brokerage, or insurance office (of which Chicago has many.) It was about the time that the fifth Harry Potter book came out, and they were discussing the media hoopla one morning.

He: Have you seen it? The book I mean?
She: No, where would I see it?
He: I went into the bookstore just to see. It's over 700 pages long! No way! Absolutely no way am I going to read anything like that.
She: I can't imagine why anyone would bother.

In another incident, two couples who knew each other were sitting together. One pair were not yet married, the other had been for some time evidently. The married male (in his 30s probably) was describing the layout of their house, and said they had a room with bookshelves and comfortable chairs and lighting where they could sit to read. The other male (I'd say late 20s) expressed shock. Sitting there with his laptop open, doing whatever he was doing with it (often playing back sound clips from films or television that he thought were humorous) he said flatly, "I don't read." The other was now surprised. "Not even the newspaper?" And the answer was, "Why should I read when I can get that from television?"

And there you have it. I think it explains a lot, including why elections are now decided by sound bites rather than policy statements, and why library usage among people beyond high school age has been declining steadily. Our most active clientele is growing rapidly older. Those are the people who still read books and magazines. The 20 to 40 age group no longer checks out books, for the most part. They borrow videos only, and use our computers to get a faster connection to the internet. That's it. :(