Archive for October, 2010


visual display of plaintive information

Not sure if everyone is familiar with Edward Tufte’s work, but I imagine a lot of you Ghost Islanders would enjoy it (Visual Display of Quantitative Information being the most famous, I think).  This animated map, illustrating the fallout of the bust in ’08 based on Bureau of Labor statistics, reminds me of a Tufte piece although it’s not really as abstracted and mind-blowing as some of his finer works.  Similar, though, in that it gives you a sort of flyover of a massive amount of information in a manner that is easy to process and absorb a narrative from (without spinning or dumbing it down), which I think is important.

My home state of Michigan, of course, gets top marks for it’s ability to lose jobs early and often throughout the timeline presented (August 2010 – No More Jobs to Lose!) but it’s interesting to see the pockets that remain blue throughout the whole meltdown.    Any other regional insights?  WTF southern Texas?  Is that drug money that keeps the growth moving?

Closing thought:  The rise of the Tea Party strikes me as a classic kind of desperate times/desperate measures situation.  Their ability to seem authoritative and confident despite offering no concrete information whatsoever about how they would actually enact any of their atrocious ideas (beyond laughably simplified nonsense) is a sort of cynical masterstroke in a climate of fear and uncertainty.  They feed off of the malaise and desperation that accompanies the unemployment and economic hardship that you see settling over the land in the above map.  Presumably, a path towards stability will also undermine their appeal and, as I believe and hope, the Tea Party will be a historical footnote, limited to the tumult following the dramatic downturn of 08/09/10.  Either way, it’s a scary and, to a generation that enjoyed stability and prosperity in their youth, informative reminder of the kind of blind madness that accompanies times of fear and desperation, even in an incredibly affluent modern society.  The flipside of that is the possibility that we’re collectively sliding towards a Age of Desperation, driven by environmental crisis, resource scarcity, and economic realignment.  If that’s the case, this might just the first frost of a long winter.  Strange days.


Reflections of Halladay-Lincecum

So it wasn’t the greatest pitching match-up ever. But it was nonetheless the best baseball game I have seen in a long time. Both teams played well (although I can’t help myself but to point out that the Giants’ winning run was scored on an almost leaping catch-at-the-wall by Raul Ibanez) and the atmosphere was terrific – a close game with teams trading home runs and getting in and out of jams. From a baseball purist perspective, the outcome was far better than a victory for the heavily favored Phillies Goliath, and now there is a good chance for a Halladay-Lincecum II (if this happens, be sure to catch it, even if you aren’t a baseball or sports fan, because there might not be a better game this decade).
To hear what my guitar had to say after the game, click this.


Dion McGregor: Sominiloquist

Dion McGregor, pictured above, was a noted sominiloquist whose off-the-wall, impeccably precise dream narrations were released on three albums (one in 1964, two posthumously in the 90s/00s).  There seems to be some debate as to whether or not the material released on the albums was actually recorded while McGregor was dreaming or if it was some sort of bizarre attempt to gain recognition (McGregor was, after all, a stuggling and frustrated songwriter).

The first album, released on Decca Records, which apparently was really rolling the dice on new talent in 1964, is far tamer (and to my ears faker sounding) than the two later albums culled from the same archives as the first.  The later albums are chock full of profanity, deviance, and shrieks, while the diction on the first album seems almost impossibly measured for someone who was sleeping at the time.  But, if they are fake, they must’ve required a huge amount of effort and some serious trickery to get them released.

Either way, it’s some interesting listening.  All three albums are available here, and here is a sample of one of the shorter ones to give you an idea of how weird this shit is.

Also, if you’re in the mood for something a little less terrifying and insane, I’ve been enjoying this Coma Cinema stuff recently, especially these two songs.


Books and Boats

NEWS: Our own Sean Higgins has a chapter in a book. It looks, for want of a better word, sick. Check:


This is something I wrote that is not publishable in ‘real’ places:


There are a lot of very rich people in the world. They own boats. Often they own boats, but not always.

Two very rich people were on a boat that a third very rich person owned. They were a boy and a girl and they were thinking about having sex. They were thinking about having sex with each other, not just generally thinking about having sex.

Usually very rich people are thinking about the specific person with whom they want to have sex. This is what makes them different from other people who usually just think about sex in general.

You know the last names of these people.

Instead of having sex, the two very rich people just thought really hard about it. The rocking of the boat and the color of the moon made for a good atmosphere for sexual thoughts. The very rich girl adjusted her shawl because the breeze had picked up.

Then two aliens walked around the ship and started to just laugh and laugh.

Then they left.

The very rich boy stirred his drink.

His money makes him so interesting! Money makes anyone interesting because you can think of all of the things a personal can do with that money. Money equals a kind of potential.

October 2010