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Friday, December 18, 2009

The Weekly Roundup: 12.18.2009

Gang Related Activity Growing on Reservations
During westward expansion, and all that manifest destiny crap, the media propagated an image of "the last Indian", as if all the native people had magically disappeared, and the land was now vacant and for the taking. Somehow that image, despite being about 150 years old, seems to have stuck around. I sincerely doubt the average American ever wonders about the current state of Native Americans. The truth isn't good: even a couple of centuries is not enough for a population to rebound from ethnic cleansing. Indigenous people have the highest poverty rate by far, and the sociocultural consequences are serious.
Gang Violence Grows on an Indian Reservation by Erik Eckholm

The PhilPapers Surveys
PhilPapers.org conducted a survey of philosophy faculty members, PhDs, and graduate students to find out what contemporary philosophers think of great philosophical questions, some classic and some eclectic. Preliminary results and analysis of the The PhilPapers Surveys offer some rather interesting food for thought. Here are a few points I've selected; however, the interested should browse on their own.
Aesthetic value: objective or subjective?
Accept or lean toward: objective 382 / 931 (41%)
Accept or lean toward: subjective 321 / 931 (34.4%)
Other 228 / 931 (24.4%)

Free will: compatibilism, libertarianism, or no free will?
Accept or lean toward: compatibilism 550 / 931 (59%)
Other 139 / 931 (14.9%)
Accept or lean toward: libertarianism 128 / 931 (13.7%)
Accept or lean toward: no free will 114 / 931 (12.2%)

Zombies: inconceivable, conceivable but not metaphysically possible, or metaphysically possible?
Accept or lean toward: conceivable but not metaphysically possible 331 / 931 (35.5%)
Other 234 / 931 (25.1%)
Accept or lean toward: metaphysically possible 217 / 931 (23.3%)
Accept or lean toward: inconceivable 149 / 931 (16%)

Handy Animals
Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, "Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to." It now seems as though blushing may be one of the few items left on the list of behaviors that set humans apart from other animals. The development and use of tools has frequently been sited as a benchmark in human evolution. Yet, the BBC has published several articles in the past year about how non-mammals can make and use tools to solve complex problems.
Clever crow creates a new tool from BBC
Rooks reveal remarkable tool-use by Rebecca Morelle
Octopus snatches coconut and runs by Rebecca Morelle

Until the Kingdom Comes
Simen Johan has been working on Until the Kingdom Comes since 2004. His website divides the series into two periods 2004 to 2006, and 2007 to 2009. I'm not sure I precisely "like" his work, but it is certainly captivating. For me it evokes the idealized paintings of frontier life: beautifully illuminated, hyper-realistic works of epic buffalo hunts, and the discovery of Yellowstone. However, those painting depicted a utopia of American natural resources, and Johan's works have a sense of something fearsome, bordering on impending dystopia.

We Real Cool
A good friend of mine posted this poem online this week. I also remember him talking about it years ago. As much as a poem might be able to capture a hint of his being, this poem does that far better than any other I am familiar with. All the moments of our friendship that run through my mind breathe coolness set to the free form style of jazz in the late, lurking hours with a sense of finality, fatality, that can only youth, who feel trapped, can have.
We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

We Real Cool
(1959) by Gwendolyn Brooks

A Single Man Shoot by Tom Ford
To be honest, I didn't know anything about this movie, or who Tom Ford was until these photos inspired me to find out. I came across this hotness in an article from the LA Times, 'A Single Man' director Tom Ford shoots Colin Firth, Matthew Goode and Julianne Moore for V mag. This particular photo is always how I pictured Jack Kerouac in my mind, until I actually saw some photos of him. I wish I could describe it more eloquently, but so far the only thought that's managed to come to my mind is that it's like sex for my eyeballs.

David Schrott
Almost a year and a half ago now, a photography professor I had recommended I take a look at David Schrott. Maybe I'm filling in the holes of my memories with unfounded flattery, but I think she said some photos I submitted for a portraiture assignment reminded her of his work. I just finally got around to it, and found that I actually already familiar with his work. He had taken photos for a band I used to work with, and a band I am friends with. Sometimes the music world is smaller than you can ever think. His website is savvy and in flash, so I can't post any examples here. However, if you like portrait photography, you should really check it out. I especially like the last two photos in his Illinois (10.09) series. They do a good job of capturing the humanity of workers in the contemporary agriculture industry.

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