Secular values, temporary tattoos

Interesting op-ed on a longitudinal study on religion and family life in America, which added the non-religious to observant and produces interesting findings that also come as no surprise:

High levels of family solidarity and emotional closeness between parents and nonreligious youth, and strong ethical standards and moral values that had been clearly articulated as they were imparted to the next generation.

“Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious’ parents in our study,” Bengston told me. “The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”

My own ongoing research among secular Americans — as well as that of a handful of other social scientists who have only recently turned their gaze on secular culture — confirms that nonreligious family life is replete with its own sustaining moral values and enriching ethical precepts. Chief among those: rational problem solving, personal autonomy, independence of thought, avoidance of corporal punishment, a spirit of “questioning everything” and, far above all, empathy.

Again, this is only interesting and not a great surprise, unless you were convinced that heathens are, by nature, evil (one study-aid among many provided to you by one flavor of good book or another). And speaking of which, contrast this with the good-natured white nationalism of strong christian and Iowa congressman Steve King. How (rhetorical) does an adult human living in this country in 2017 believe in some kind of civilization that relies on demographic purity? Might it be a view emanating from, if not sanctioned by, very strong beliefs in Judeo-Christian tradition? Forgive the broad brush but come on – it almost seems like too much to be able to withstand such certainty. And no, there is no convincing this person or others otherwise. But there is calling them out as pathetic and racist, and that we must resolve to do.

Enhanced Logo Techniques

plantNikeThese embroidered sportswear logos are a good reminder about all the personal space we willingly hand over to corporate advertising, and that we have the ability to take some of it back. Reclaim – hey, we’re into vintage!

The willingness to advertise products and brand loyalties needs some thoughtful push back. Adbusters is still around, but less manifesto and more creativity is what’s called for, not telling people what to think or do – but to think and do. And maybe that’s a contradiction. Maybe those are one and the same. The freedom to do nothing, to not vote, not participate, remains one of our most powerful. But it is also can be powerfully turned against the interests of a free society. The ‘freedom fetish’ itself is a good example of this.

Art is still more powerful than vandalism, but just as threatening to the status quo.

64 Frames Per Second

Horse_gifThat’s a random choice, actually. Because anywhere between the 48 and 120 frames per second at which digital cameras can record looks so real that it… looks fake:

“Hobbiton and Middle Earth didn’t feel like a different universe, it felt like a special effect, a film set with actors in costumes.” His view was widely shared. Alexander D’Aloia wrote, “What 48fps has done is make a prop look like a prop. For example, Gandalf’s staff resembles a hunk of brown plastic, and not a length of wood (see from 1:06).” At 120Hz, your high-definition TV is repeating each frame of Fury Road five times every 24th of a second; as if that weren’t enough, the new 4K television standard puts over eight million pixels on the screen, four times that of HDTV.

Okay. So let me speak for everyone when I say: Enough is enough. This is what we get when we basically allow IT experts to become decision-makers about aesthetics. And this is not to castigate the IT people, per se; it’s only that, they see the world through the lens of technical constraints, and either work to make everything conform to these constraints (classical IT) or work to supersede them, (Digitechnorati) over and over again. They don’t stop to ask whether they should. That’s a question for another department, one that actually doesn’t get to weigh in on this point – the one that, by (high) definition, doesn’t have to ask this question. See? it’s a maddeningly vicious cycle.

And there’s nothing Luddite or purist about this. If you think this is only about art film, look at what TV commercials are doing to our fcking sense of dancing carrots:

We have to be persuaded—of what, exactly, it’s hard to say. But the illusion of dancing vegetables will never work if they are even slightly wilted or misshapen. They must be casually believable, instinctively credible carrots, like those familiar to us from “real life” at 24 frames per second, but also gorgeous, perfect carrots, or their performance will just seem … wrong.

Anyway, good story. Property masters, indeed.

Image: 12 frame long animation made in Flash 8 by rotoscoping horse gallop from Edweard Muybridge “Horses and Other Animals in Motion”, via wikimedia commons.

4th Quarter Taco Bell Salute to the Troops

Colorado Soldiers Return HomeThe disconnect between American military and civilian life are only growing, and with it, an expanding impatience for the use of patriotism as a feel-good marketing tool. This earlier Atlantic piece by James Fallows about how we treat members of the armed forces set the stage; now comes Pierce with a specific bone to pick with our beloved NFL:

Propaganda is a messy business. We like to think of ourselves as the shrewdest of consumers, but we can be the biggest rubes who ever sat around the cracker barrel. We like to think we can tell truth from fiction, but we are still the country of the patent medicine salesman, the loaded dice, the Ponzi scheme, and the rigged wheel. It is in this country that Mark Twain placed Hadleyburg and reported about amazing jumping frogs. We are not now, nor have we ever been, the hardest mark in the room. The world can see us coming a mile off.

At the same time, our hackles go to DEFCON 1 whenever anyone intimates that we might sell our birthright for a bag of magic beans. This is particularly true when it comes to the government and our sports-entertainment-industrial complex. We demand the right to choose the people we allow to swindle us, and our politicians and our athletes are not on the list. We look on every government initiative as though it were aimed directly at our wallets. We look on our spectacle sports as the outward manifestations of dark, witchy forces that arrange strange outcomes and rig lotteries. These are the two most target-rich environments for conspiracy theories for a reason.

If there’s one thing we don’t like, it’s being called out. If there’s one thing we shouldn’t stand for, it is the military being used for anything beyond the purpose for which it exists. And before it happens (right), eliding this as any kind of ‘attack on our people in uniform’ is just the worst the kind of skullduggery, and/or roofing material upon the last refuge of scoundrels. And probably both. Just stop it.

Ode to a series

Any thinking person’s loathing of advertising must, by definition, equal respect for the perfect ending of Madmen.


No exegesis here (see Edroso for that) but from a writer’s standpoint, choosing his conception of the most famous and well-known of products and advertising campaigns as the Don’s portal back to his life and career was as inspired as it is confirmation of the campaign’s emptiness. As a stand-in for all advertising, it’s a savage send-up. Nicely done, Mr. Weiner.


Public Art Wars

Now this is how you do it, when you can do it. Seattle’s The Stranger.CapHillPSA

The Paid poster is part of #CapHillPSA, a collection of posters made by local artists addressing the issue of public safety on Capitol Hill. A press release suggests the campaign was intended by organizers Courtney Sheehan and Yonnas Getahun to “demonstrate the role art can play in shaping personal reflection and community action.” As the name suggests, it’s less an art show and more a propaganda campaign, as demonstrated by Ken McCarty’s red-and-black poster displaying a close-up of the barrel of a handgun with the words “STOP THE VIOLENCE” printed on top. It’s purely political, a simple message that wouldn’t be out of place in a church basement or a school hallway.

Most of the work in #CapHillPSA demonstrates a bit of political cartoon DNA tossed in too, with a plucky juxtaposition between words and pictures. Christian Petersen’s poster reads “ALLDICKHEADS-SHOULDFUCKOFF,” with a smiley face in place of the o in “should.” Meng Yu’s poster shows a popped-collar douche rendered in soft neon colors, with the words “Welcome to the neighborhood AGRO BRO” drawn over his turquoise hair. A couple of the works, like Jite Agbro’s gorgeous moody moonlit landscape or Shogo Ota’s prickly hairy-chested figure wearing a vicious-looking spiky bustier, are a little more ambiguous and a lot more visually rewarding.

Protect your town and your neighborhoods, and its weirdness, any way you can. I think the publication’s title is actually a comparative adjective, for what its worth.





I know everybody’s heard of Robespierre, but this guy Saint-Just was also fascinating:

When the Revolution began in 1789, Saint-Just was considered by many to be too young, and he was unsuccessful in his early attempts to get involved. In 1790 he took the Civic Oath and so entered the Revolution through the Jacobin party. The next year he wrote Esprit de la Revolution et de la Constitution de France which was a great success. Finally, in 1792, he became a deputy to the Convention. He was now able to make his speeches in Paris, and he quickly made a name for himself as he called for the death of the king. On July 10, 1793 he became one of nine members of the Committee of Public Safety and, along with Robespierre, very influential in the Reign of Terror. He was elected president of the Convention for the month of Ventôse. During this time he called for the arrest of Danton and Camille Desmoulins (a supporter of Danton). They were soon executed.Robespierre was now opposed by many, but Saint-Just stood by his friend and attempted to speak on his behalf. “I defend the man in question because his conduct has appeared to me to be irreproachable, and I would accuse him if he committed a crime. Great God! What kind of leniency is this that plots the ruin of innocent men?” he said in his last speech. Because of this action, Louis was arrested along with Robespierre, Philippe Le Bas, Couthon and Robespierre’s brother Augustin. On July 27, 1794, Saint-Just was sent to the guillotine with Robespierre and died for his Republic. The “Angel of Death” was only 26.

Maserati commercials during the Super Bowl? Clueless barking at a Moonless Tuesday.

Could mean all kinds of things

I draw your attention to the following sentence in a Guardian article, featuring an alternative use of the word hoarding:

Dame Judi Dench has come to the defence of the drama school where she learned her Oscar-winning craft.

The London borough of Camden has banned two advertising hoardings outside the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama on supposedly aesthetic grounds.

The Central says that it receives up to £150,000 a year from advertisers using the sites, which it donates to theatre charities involving thousands of young people nationwide, and that there have been no complaints since they went up 27 years ago. An appeal to the secretary of state will be heard on Tuesday.

Next up: a discussion of advertising row.

Star of a new advertising campaign

So… innocently checking the NYT media decoder blog and the top two three of the top four stories are about the advertaiment process unfolding before our eyes. They’re not about this per se, because that would maybe be like a story on the circumscribed movements of the second hand, but

Such sponsorship agreements — known as branded entertainment, content marketing and native advertising — are becoming common on Bravo, part of the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment division of NBCUniversal. And as the channel plans its programming lineup for 2013-14 during what is called the upfront season, more sponsorships that integrate advertising into shows are planned.


“I am not against ads in general,” said Till Faida, a managing director of the project, “but I am just annoyed by the current state of ads. I have worked in online marketing — I just thought ads could be so much better.”

While still receiving donations from users, the project now also negotiates deals with large Web sites that run unobtrusive ads to be “white-listed” and thus not automatically blocked by the program. (A recent deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, granted such status to the social news site Reddit.)

add to that the recent stories about buzzfeed and heed: much like people making money simply off of money, the mining of what ‘content providers’ think you want to read or will click on and the re-packaging of that as ‘news’ or ‘headlines’ or ‘things you should know’ or whatever is vastly afoot.  Think of this as a PSA and not at all news, but this phenomenon has a slow creep, just like the touting of innovation and such in  high production-value TV advertising that we get accustomed to over time but is increasing really about nothing at all.

Just remember, people write books. Be firm about what enters your noggin.

Update: Lou-weeze. Parody, we hardly knew ye.