The Weekly Roundup: 9.3.2010

Alcoholic Art
What happens when you crystallize your party beverage of choice, slap it on a lab slide, illuminate it with a polarized light source, stick it under a microscope, and take a microphotograph of it? Apparently, modern art. BevShots makes surprisingly affordable prints of these vibrant microphotographs that are more than compelling enough to hang in an art gallery or a posh bar that charges fifteen dollars for a martini. My mixed feelings about this business endeavor aside, these images are once again proof of nature's artistry. They could be stills from Jean Painlevé's short films of liquid crystals, which is always a vote of approval in my book.


The Evolution of God
Calm down kiddies, the only reason I capitalized "god" right there was because it was part of the title. This article is about god as a concept not as a deity. We're all familiar with the the creation vs evolution and god vs science debates. And, by now you should also be aware of the theories that use science to support religious ideologies. However, this week NPR presented an prospective that I was previously unaware of, and immediately intrigued me. What about religion explaining science? The belief in the supernatural, often formally organized as a religion, is a commonality across time, culture, and location. As much as some of us may wish otherwise, there's never been a great atheist anarchist society in the history of civilization. Is it possible that we as humans have been able to evolve thanks to our ability to believe in higher powers and supernatural forces? Some compelling research suggests that believing in god is evolutionarily advantageous to society as a whole. Hear the story, or read the article over at NPR.
Is Believing In God Evolutionarily Advantageous? by Alix Spiegel

Who's That Brown
Undoubtedly referencing a line from Scenario by A Tribe Called Quest, viral rappers and Brooklyn darlings Das Racist have released a new single, Who's That Brown. With lyrics considerably more cohesive than the inebriated chat of "combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" that gained them fame, Das Racist are starting to sound legit. Matching the 8-bit synth in the song, Das Racist released an 8-bit style video game to go with the single. Now that's how you know they're arrived. Hilarious and fun. Press C to beat up hipsters. You can play for free on their website.
Who's That Brown Video Game

Great Outdoors
I signed a petition this week to support the USA's great outdoors, and I'm pretty hyped about it. I believe with the very fiber of my being that expansive natural places are one of our country's greatest treasures. Nothing can compare to the geysers of Yellowstone, the snow capped mountains of the Rockies, the jagged shores of the west coast, the seasonal forests of the east coast, and everything in between. Here's the exact wording of the petition:
I want the next generation to enjoy America's great outdoors too. That is why I am asking you to seize this opportunity to create, expand and better protect America's shared outdoors spaces including parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness, trails, wild and scenic rivers and historic sites and monuments, and to find new ways to support conservation of our farms, ranchlands and forests.

If this also what you believe, please add your name to the petition. It only takes a couple seconds to add your voice to a massive collective call for the promotion and protection of America's great outdoors. Along with the names of the petition, this campaign is also collecting stories, ideas, and feedback. Together this public discourse will be used to shape the America's Great Outdoors initiative. You can attend a local listening session, listed on either website, or you can participate online through a message board. I haven't had a chance to submit my national parks stories yet, but I plan to send them in before the November deadline. If you love the outdoors, get heard!
Sign the America's Great Outdoors Petition
Join the conversation for America's Great Outdoors

America By Car
Renowned photographer, Lee Friedlander has a new exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art that is entirely up my ally. Ad if I didn't have enough respect and admiration for Friedlander already, his latest series America By Car is entirely shots taken from a car that use the vehicle's interior structure to frame the passing scenery. Sheer brilliance. When you take a road trip the vehicle is part of the experience, and should consequently be included. In my own road trip photography I've often struggled with the decision to frame my car in or out of shots. I've generally opted for out, thus following more conventional composition rules. Ah, if only I could think more like a true iconoclast, like Lee Friedlander!

Montana (2008)

Music Lists
Seems like part of being a music nerd is an inherent drive to create ordered lists of songs, albums, and artists. In this spirit two particularly popular online music publications posted rather grand lists this week. Pitchfork published a list of the The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s, a list so long it had to be posted in segments over several days. Is it just me or does 200 seem like a rather arbitrary number? I suppose 200 is just how long it takes to include both the ironic pop gems and obligatory obscure rarities. Clearly no such list can ever really be definitive, but it's certainly entertaining for other music nerds, and admittedly I enjoy many of their picks. Additionally, Stereogum posted their list of 40 Best New Bands of 2010. This list is of a much more manageable size, but kind of ballsy given that the year is only two-thirds over with. Predictably, I also have mixed feelings on this list. While I'm completely stoked for Baths and Mountain Man, and bands like Cloud Nothings, Gold Panda, How To Dress Well, Twin Sister, and Wild Nothing have recently and pleasantly reached my attention, I already find many of the other picks to be overrated. The bonus with this list, is that it includes a free download previewing all forty bands. Run off fellow music nerds, and pick these lists to pieces.
The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s on Pitchfork
40 Best New Bands of 2010 on Stereogum