Wednesday, March 30, 2011

bleak links

---World Order "Machine Civilization"

---Through the Middle, a documentary about a barber

---the 20% decline in ticket sales

---Paul Mattick's "Capitalism's Dismal Future":

"In fact, the crisis looming before us is likely to be, if anything, more terrible than the Great Depressions of 1873-93 and 1929-39. The continuing industrialization of agriculture and urbanization of population—by 2010, it is estimated, more than half the earth's inhabitants lived in cities—has made more and more people dependent upon the market to supply them with food and other necessities of life. The existence on or over the edge of survival experienced today by the urban masses of Cairo, Dhaka, São Paulo, and Mexico City will be echoed in the capitalistically advanced nations, as unemployment and government-dictated austerity afflict more and more people, not just in the developed world's Rust Belts but in New York, Los Angeles, London, Madrid, and Prague.

Left to its own devices, capitalism promises economic difficulties for decades to come, with increased assaults on the earnings and working conditions of those who are still lucky enough to be wage earners around the world, waves of bankruptcies and business consolidations for capitalist firms, and increasingly serious conflicts among economic entities and even nations over just who is going to pay for all this. Which automobile companies, in which countries, will survive, while others take over their assets and markets? Which financial institutions will be crushed by uncollectible debts, and which will survive to take over larger chunks of the world market for money? What struggles will develop for control of raw materials, such as oil or water for irrigation and drinking, or agricultural land?

Gloomy though such considerations are, they leave out two paradoxically related factors that promise further dire effects for the future of capitalism: the coming decline of oil—the basis of the whole industrial system at present—as a source of energy, and the global warming caused by the consumption of fossil fuels. Even if continuing stagnation should slow greenhouse gas-caused climate change, the damage already done is extremely serious. Elizabeth Kolbert, a journalist not given to exaggeration, called her soberly informative account Field Notes From a Catastrophe. The melting of glaciers threatens not only Swiss views but the drinking supplies of whole populations in such areas as Pakistan and the Andean watersheds; droughts have ravaged Australian and Chinese agriculture for years now, while floods periodically devastate the low-lying South Asian homes of tens of millions of people. The rolling parade of disasters is, unfortunately, only getting started. It will accompany a stagnant economy and only be exacerbated by the increased greenhouse-gas emissions that a return to true prosperity would bring."

---betrayed by our own data

---"When Things Go Wrong: The Films of Denis Cote" by James Clark

---"Hayao Miyasaki's Prophetic Whimsy":

"I perceive the fragility of our civilization very strongly and talk about it again and again in my films," says Miyazaki. "This certainly has something to do with the war and postwar years, which shaped me, but even more importantly, with the constant threat of earthquakes and tsunamis that we face. We are always walking on eggshells. . . ."

"Everything that is complete can end in ruins at any time," says Miyazaki. "Is man the pinnacle of creation? Probably not. Perhaps we would all be more modest if we occasionally reminded ourselves that we began as amoebas. But mankind has moved so far away from nature that a return is hardly possible anymore."

---Hunter S. Thompson interviews Keith Richards, 1993

---The Big Bang trailer

---the transmedia experience

---The Atomic Cafe, a great film

---ocean acidification and 35 gigatons of CO2

---despair in Camden, New Jersey:

"Good will come of her death," cried the white-haired priest. "Good will come!"

But many in the weeping throng heard only a cry in the dark. What good, people say, can ever come out of this broken city of 80,000 that sits on banks of the Delaware River across from the gleaming skyline of Philadelphia?

What good can rise from this bleak urban landscape of dilapidated row houses, where black-clad drug dealers sell brazenly on street corners, prostitutes just as brazenly sell themselves, and addicts rot in abandoned homes or stumble through a wasteland of vacant lots?

Doyle's church looms above the poorest of these streets, near the massive sewage treatment plant that fouls the air; the concrete crushing plant that, some insist, contributes to the high rate of childhood asthma; the jagged mountains of scrap metal being crushed for export."

---Luc Besson's Adele Blanc-Sec trailer

---"Digital Media: the 21st century education revolution"

---Last Night trailer

---Rob Horning considers the attention economy:

"Relative to the automatic filtering imposed by those analog limits, the ones we are forced to impose on ourselves seem arbitrary. They require self-discipline; they seem theoretically optional, perpetually negotiable. The open-endedness makes us feel the information flow as “overload”—it is never simply settled as what it is, and requires continual decisionmaking from us, continual reaffirmation of the filters we’ve chosen. My RSS feed demands more from me than a newspaper, because I’m responsible at a meta level for what information it brings me; before, my decisionmaking would end with the decision to buy a paper. Now I have to tell myself I have enough, even as the culture tells me that in general, too much is never enough, and “winning” is having more. As a result, I start to feel cheated by time because I can’t amass more of it. I become alienated from it rather inhabiting it, which makes me feel bored in the midst of too many options. The sense of overload is a failure of our focus rather than the fault of information itself or the various media. Calling it “attention” in the contemporary sense and economizing it doesn’t repair focus so much as redefine it as a shorter span, as inherently fickle and ephemeral.

Brokering my own attention span is my attempt to reassert control. I will spend my attention wisely and get the most out of it by investing it wisely in things that will “reward” it. But I fear that expecting to profit from paying attention is a mistake, a kind of category error. Attention seems to me binary—it is engaged or it isn’t; it isn’t amenable to qualitative evalution. If we start assessing the quality of our attention, we get pulled out of what we were paying attention to, and pay attention to attention to some degree, becoming strategic with it, kicking off a reflexive spiral that leads only to further insecurity and disappointment. Attention is never profitable enough, never sufficient.

It seems to me that serendipity is a better attention-management strategy, a more appropriate way to deal with those times when we can no longer focus and become suddenly aware that we need to direct our attention somewhere."

---Pixar's creative process

---Condition ONE: immersive war

---Robert Redford and All the President's Men

---lastly, the first augmented reality movie and cereal box

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