Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
OTM Staff Picks Volume 30
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 10:52 AM
A few of our favorite things:
There is this great series of images by photographer Julian Wolkenstein, that plays with the notion that the more symmetrical a person’s face, the more beautiful it is. He creates 2 sets of images for each of his subjects: one image shows the right half of the face mirrored to create a complete face, and the other does the same thing with the left side of the face. The result is really interesting—the subject now looks like two completely different people. Some examples are more extreme than others, such as the one seen above.
Over the weekend the Times ran a story about protestors outside the Russian consulate in New York being charged with "an arcane provision in the loitering law that makes it unlawful for three or more people to wear masks in public."
"The ban on masks in New York State dates to 1845, when it was adopted in response to events in the Hudson Valley, where local tenant farmers disguised as American Indians had attacked and killed landlords. The law includes exceptions for masquerade parties and similar events."
I suspect Big-Masquerade successfully lobbied for this special treatment. Probably after a long fight in the legislature with Big-Landlord.
Unsurprisingly this law has been challenged over the years, but the lawyer for the protestors says this challenge is different because, attention OTM fans, he's arguing that: "that his clients needed to hide their identities with masks because the ideas they were spreading are controversial, he said, he will assert that the masks themselves were integral to the message the three women were communicating."
Two picks this week.
The first is about 4 blocks from our office in New York City. It’s a permanent exhibition, a 32 year-old art installation open Wednesday through Sunday, and it consists of a very large Soho loft filled almost 2 feet deep with rich, loamy dirt. Its creator, Walter De Maria, is most famous for his lightning field in New Mexico. But if you can’t make it there, especially on your lunch break, I highly recommend the subtle realignment that comes from experiencing 280,000 pounds of dirt in an improbable indoor urban space. It’s not a secret door in the back of your wardrobe, but it’s close.
The second is a great Wired article about how Steve Jobs pushed Corning to create Gorilla Glass for the iPhone. There aren’t a lot of what political journalists call ‘tick-tocks’ about innovation in materials science, but this is a great example of how to explain a complex process simply without dumbing it down and to make the art of invention a riveting race against the clock.
One of the compelling books of non-fiction ever written: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures , written in 1997 by Anne Fadiman. Why is this one of the best books ever written? Because Anne Fadiman weaves together the history of a displaced culture and an individual ailing child in alternating chapters that sing to each other and to you, creating an experience of profound understanding of what would otherwise have been incomprehensible.
It’s about little girl with severe epilepsy and a cultural conflict with the American medical establishment that obstructs her treatment. They are both right. They are both wrong. They are both motivated by concern for little Lia Lee. The book is a plea and an argument for greater “cultural competence” in medicine, and is often assigned in medical schools as a cautionary tale. It has won many awards. It's a surpassing pleasure to read.
Incidentally, Lia Lee defied medical expectations. She lived, paralyzed, speaking only “with her eyes” until August 31, at the age of 30.
The California band Sparks were never huge in the US, but they were reasonably popular in England in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s a shame they were never as big over here as, say, Queen, because they are totally amazing for a number of reasons:
- The two leads (Russell and Ron) are brothers. One looks like a hair model and the other…well, not so much.
- They are total musical chameleons, doing everything from glam to new wave to technopop.
- They love puns in a way that totally shoots the moon. I mean, they have an album called Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins.
- Their drummer’s name was Dinky Diamond.
- Their album covers are bonkers.
So this week, I’m picking a performance from Top of the Pops. Russell’s got the voice, but Ron really steals the show with this one.
I'm in awe of how quickly Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" remark spawned dozens of new art forms, in particular the politicized Amazon product review. It's hard to encompass the multiple angles of sarcasm within the 1000+ reviews for, say, the Avery Durable View Binder with 2 Inch EZ Turn Ring, White, but here's one that made me laugh:
Customers have foolish complaints..., October 18, 2012
Dr. K (Philadelphia)Most of the reviews here misunderstand this product. Of course it comes to you empty and will necessarily stay empty, no matter how you try to fill it. Remember that this is supposed to be a binder of women QUALIFIED to work in executive positions. Since we all know that there are no actual women who fit that description, of course the binder is empty. SHEESH! I recommend that dissatisfied customers instead buy this ELMO diaper bag because you are going to need it!
Imagine what the 20th century might have been like if online product reviews had been around when Kruschev pounded his shoe on the podium or feminists started burning bras. I guess it's up to our century to explore the new frontiers of product-based snark.