Chimeric Marmosets

Science Times today:
“Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle” has now taken on a new meaning. Scientists studying marmosets have discovered that over half the males carry their brother’s sperm.

How about that? My favorite little monkeys!

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Top Notch Cross Continent Awesomeness

I just got done with some excellent poop talk with a Mr. Robbie Fresh whilst drinking a red beer out of a Nalgene in a lonely hotel room. I miss him, but somehow, the superb nature of transatlantic video chatting makes everythinkg a-o-k.


Kearney, Nebraska, Day One

I left Lincoln at approximately 6:30 this morning, slept though some Bonnie Prince Billy and This American Life episodes, and arrived at a video production workshop for school technology administrators at 9 AM. This, naturally, follows being up far too late with the likes of M. Gibson, B. McQuillan, and M. Svalina. Lovely time, yes.
Not a very enthralling time out here so far. The workshop is far from geared toward my skill level, but there is apparently no problem with me being online most of the day with an ear cocked toward interjecting a comment here and there on technique. Aside from that, there's time in a hotel room by myself, with my new iPod in tow, to catch up on some more internet. There is some delicious Thunderhead brew, and there is The Diamond Sea on WFMU.
And that, my friends, involved a much fraught-over and finally-achieved video chat with none other than Louis John Vassalotti III. This chat had nothing to do with the magic finger waving.


Like Wow

Watching something you made on your newly acquired video iPod is an indescribably good feeling.



Ostalgie, a neologism that comes from nostalgie and Ost, meaning east, is ascribed to nostalgic feelings for the former East Germany in an "it wasn't really that bad, was it?" sense.
And, truth be told, in some cases -- particularly for women -- the communist East was better, with childcare for free and summer camp at virtually no cost, days off for housework, and greater social equality. Weigh this against the overpowering paranoia induced by the omnipresent role of the Stasi (Staatssicherheit, or state security, i.e. the domestic spying agency), and maybe the Ostalgie fades away a little.

(Please go see The Lives of Others.)

Somehow, this Ostalgie is metamorphosing into my own little brand of nostalgia, this one, however, less about the former East Germany and more about being an unemployed, full-time artist. With darkroom access whenever I want it -- and, to my credit, that I have finally been using at least semi-regularly -- I turn out dusty prints, and don't take the time to really clean the place. With an excellent video camera at home, I don't take it out enough to even finish the short assignments for a video seminar I'm only taking half-heartedly. I have ideas I've had for months, scribbled down hastily, scribbled down drunkenly, always with the excitement in the pen and when closing the book that doesn't somehow seem so brilliant upon reflection. Now, I have a good job -- a perfect job, in many ways. But my heart is just not in it.

How was it that just a few months ago, I spent eight-hour days working on my own video pieces, I think? Then I remember the agony of not having enough money to pay rent, and how that one week that I work all the time on my own creative projects was counterweighted by many weeks of being too depressed and apathetic to do anything at all with my days.

The Kunstalgie passes through me, I spent the weekend floating as a little boat on a rain puddle, and the sun beats down, dries it all away, and I return to work.


The Bracketologist

WBUR's Only A Game reviewed a book written about the infamous bracket game. I bet our tested ultimate values are far more ambitious in scope.

Providence, Redux, Again as Always

The ProJo is currently featuring a "favorite mob story" survey section.

Tell us your Rhode Island mob story

Here's one, from Tony "The Broom" Laroche

My family lived on Federal Hill for most of the 1960s and it was like living on the set of Goodfellas.

My sister Rita remembers us running up Dean Street one night when two young mob punks got thrown through the plate-glass window of a drugstore on Atwells Avenue. My sister Betty recalls one day walking to the neighborhood pool and passing a restaurant right after someone had been gunned down in the restaurant’s phone booth. She stood there on the sidewalk with all the other gawkers, but says she didn’t get to see the body.

We lived in a first-floor apartment in a tenement on Dean, right at the apex of the triangle made by Dean, Solar and Atwells. At the base of the triangle on Atwells was Raymond Patriarca Sr.’s vending machine storefront, beside an auto garage and a couple of other business. Behind the auto garage was an overgrown alley of old car parts and oil drums that we loved to explore (I still can remember the oily smell), and a gravel parking lot made up the rest of the triangle.

Rita remembers a day when she and I were hunting in the gravel lot for diamonds when Patriarca’s Cadillac limo pulled up and he got out and gave us ice cream cones. It was around then that I started working for him. I was about 6 at the time, so I don’t remember how it started. I played with a boy who lived over the market that used to be at the corner of Solar and Atwells, and the other corner was the vending machine business. We were always playing right around there, so I guess Patriarca just said, “Hey kid, you wanna make a quarter?”

My memories are pretty vague, but I remember sweeping the sidewalk in front of his business and him leaning in the door frame, looking out over Atwells, and smoking a cigarette. I don’t remember ever going into the vending machine shop, although I probably must have at some point.

Betty remembers it differently. She says I used to run errands for him and that I used to tell my parents that the money he gave me I had found in the gutter. (Although that seems pretty advanced thinking for a 6-year-old.)

Whatever it was, my father made me stop.

There’s one other story, though. Family lore has it that my father used to park his car in the gravel parking lot and that Patriarca’s driver used to always block him in with the old man’s Caddie. My father, an amateur boxer in his youth, a World War II veteran and a construction worker, walked into the vending machine shop to settle the matter. The way I heard the story is, he simply asked them not to block him in; he was also carrying a shotgun. And they respected that, because the story has it that they never blocked him in again.

Tony Laroche is The Journal's assistant city editor.


on this weekend

a lovely precursor-to-spring weekend, indeed. in reverse order:

i just came home on my bike, and it was too warm for my hat and my bare feet are fine. at the sun mart parking lot, i got chased down by some dangerous looking kids squeaking their newly purchased squeaky toys at me, then complaining that i was too fast. before that, i was drinking wine in adam's very hip, very urban apartment with the windows open. meggan, ande and i almost drank that wine in public, because all the nice bars were closed on sunday, so we bought the screw-top bottle from jake's. that was after espresso that followed eating outside at the oven. meggan and i wanted to eat outside after biking down from ben's apartment, where we met his parents. kaleb and i found the eiffel tower on google earth.
i had a really nice time on the farm with the family, and played basketball with bicho (my parents' border collie/blue heeler mix). the cats let me sleep in a little, since they knew nothing of the time change. i slept hard.
i met ben's really great cousin miranda. after a long hiatus, i rolled a 160 and a 163 at hollywood bowl while admiring kaleb's skills at bumper bowling. i had some terrible chinese food, after discovering that vietnamese restaurants close early. kaleb got some slip-ons, since his other shoes were wet and dirty after searching out clam shells at the lake while ben dug for antique cans of high life and coke. we rode bikes and played basketball after a snack of fresh-baked bread and homemade jams, which kaleb declared the best he had ever had. we got some serious quality time with stewarts' horses, and played hide-and-seek near my favorite tree. dad showed us the calves -- 4 so far with one more on the way, 2 heifers, 2 bulls -- and kaleb made friends with the world's best cat. i had a delicious machiato at cultiva. i threw darts for the first time since ande's dui scare night over 2 years ago. i enjoyed another saturday morning on the sofa with npr and both cats on my lap.
i was at o'rourke's, owing no one my attentions, happily floating from one conversation to the next. i hugged anna. i sat outside at yia-yia's for the first time this year. i got picked up from work in todd's gloriously deep red caprice, with the windows rolled down. i knew it would be the start of a good weekend.

tomorrow, i'll develop the four rolls of film.


The Ethics of Robot Love

From the BBC:

An ethical code to prevent humans abusing robots, and vice versa, is being drawn up by South Korea.

The Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for users and manufacturers and will be released later in 2007.


Baudrillard dies?

Henry Wessel, from the SF MOMA retrospective

"since the simulacrum of Baudrillard's death is but a truth concealing that there is not death merely a simulation of it"

Jonathan Miller tells me Jean Baudrillard has died. I can find no evidence of it on the web as of yet. Coincidence?

From Simulacra and Simulations:

So it is with simulation, insofar as it is opposed to representation. Representation starts from the principle that the sign and the real are equivalent (even if this equivalence is Utopian, it is a fundamental axiom). Conversely, simulation starts from the Utopia of this principle of equivalence, from the radical negation of the sign as value, from the sign as reversion and death sentence of every reference. Whereas representation tries to absorb simulation by interpreting it as false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation as itself a simulacrum.

UPDATE: Jerusalem Post reports the death. They are the only ones so far.


Body Simulacra

I like it.

NZ Herald:

Female koalas indulge in lesbian "sex sessions", rejecting male suitors and attempting to mate with each other, sometimes up to five at a time, according to researchers.

The furry, eucalyptus-eating creatures appear to develop this tendency for same-sex liaisons when they are in captivity. In the wild, they remain heterosexual.

Scientists monitoring the marsupials with digital cameras counted three homosexual interactions for every heterosexual one.

"Some females rejected the advances of males that were in their enclosures, only to become willing participants in homosexual encounters immediately after," say the researchers.

"On several occasions more than one pair of females shared the same pole, and multiple females mounted each other simultaneously. At least one multiple encounter involved five female koalas.

I certainly approve of this behavior.