I was born during Jimmy Carter’s presidency, a one-term administration remembered mostly for the Iran hostage crisis, the New York City blackout, and stagflation. The Carter babies—anyone born between his inauguration in January 1977 and Reagan’s in January 1981—are now 30 to 34, and, like Carter himself, the weirdly brilliant yet deeply weird born-again Christian peanut farmer, this micro-generation is hard to pin down. We identify with some of Gen X’s cynicism and suspicion of authority—watching Pee-Wee Herman proclaim, “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel,” will do that to a kid—but we were too young to claim Singles and Reality Bites and Slacker as our own (though that didn’t stop me from buying the soundtracks). And, while the proud alienation of the Gen X worldview doesn’t totally sit right, we certainly don’t yearn for the Organization Man-like conformity that the Millennials seem to crave. […]
But maybe we’re not the only ones who feel unmoored. After explaining the gist of the piece to a 29-year-old friend over email, she responded: “I feel like I’m especially without generation because I’m not quite a Carter baby but not really a Millennial either. … I feel like Noreen, who is only two years younger than me, is of a slightly different generation, which seems crazy! But it feels true.” Her email was a classic Generation Catalano move: dancing near the spotlight, and then dancing with herself.
I hate the name, but I can identify with this, although I missed the Carter administration by about 10 months. Some measures of when Generation X place its end as late as 1981, while the Millennial generation starts as early as the late 70s. There’s a lot of overlap.
Empire Online ran a short interview with David Cronenberg on what his next projects will be, after Dangerous Method and the film adaptation of Don Delillo’s Cosmopolis.”
There were odd rumblings some time ago of Cronenberg remaking his own version of The Fly. Not strictly true, says the director, but not exactly false either. “Yeah, that was a thing,” he says. “It’s not exactly a remake; it’s sort of a sequel, kinda. I’ve written a script of that but I don’t know if it’s going to really happen. That has to do with Fox…”
Cronenberg also says he’s considering a sequel to Eastern Promises and denies the rumor that he’s directing the English language adaptation of the Spanish movie Timecrimes.
DC Comics collections have been disappearing from shelves at Barnes & Noble stores over the past few weeks, but not for the reasons DC would like. In response to the publisher’s exclusive digital partnership with Amazon and the recently announced Kindle Fire, B&N pulled all copies of the titles involved in the deal from their shelves until the Amazon.com window of exclusivity expires, though they do remain available for order through the bookseller’s retail website. Of course, part of what this means for Barnes & Noble is that many best-selling graphic novels, such as “Watchmen,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “Top 10” are not currently available for its brick and mortar stores to sell, leaving a sizable gap in their inventory.
Comic Book Resources has learned exclusively that, rather than wait for DC’s exclusive deal to expire before re-filling the open space on its stores’ shelves, Barnes & Noble has struck a deal with 2000 AD publisher Rebellion, massively increasing the available stock of a number of 2000 AD releases in B&N storefronts.
For decades, paleontologists have puzzled over a fossil collection of nine Triassic icthyosaurs (Shonisaurus popularis) discovered in Nevada’s Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. Researchers initially thought that this strange grouping of 45-foot-long marine reptiles had either died en masse from a poisonous plankton bloom or had become stranded in shallow water.
But recent geological analysis of the fossil site indicates that the park was deep underwater when these shonisaurs swam the prehistoric seas. So why were their bones laid in such a bizarre pattern? A new theory suggests that a 100-foot-long cephalopod arranged these bones as a self-portrait after drowning the reptiles. And no, we’re not talking about Cthulhu.
Update: I thought the absurdity of this (there is no actual evidence, just speculation on the part of the researchers) was obvious, but apparently I was wrong (thanks to Liddell for this link). It’s a lot like that bacteria in space rocks story from a while back – it’s based on someone looking at some pictures and saying what they might represent. There’s no actual discovery here.
Today is set to be the start of a new era of cheap power, as a new type of low-cost nuclear reactor goes live in front of an audience of scientists and media representatives in Bologna. Once the mystery customer who commissioned the device has confirmed that it really is producing one megawatt, they’ll pay the developer, Andrea Rossi.
Unless, of course, it all goes horribly wrong. […]
And that’s the important thing about the 28 October test: for the first time it will be carried out by the customer’s consultants, not by Rossi himself. The customer, apparently a large US company which has declined to be identified, will be measuring for itself whether the E-Cat does what it says before it will pay for it. Rossi has claimed that the device will output six times as much energy as it consumes. If it fails to perform, Rossi will not get paid and the customer will doubtless remain anonymous to avoid the inevitable bad publicity. If it succeeds, the customer might reveal itself to take credit for financing the biggest breakthrough in energy production of the modern era.
John Robb at Global Guerillas points to a report from the FBI that finds a a rise both in the number of gang members in the military and in the number of former military members in street gangs.
There are some problems with the report. For example, listing juggalos as gang members is absurd (here’s my prior writing on the subject). But if this trend is real, it could lead to some serious problems. As described by Robb:
The big worry about gangs in the US military is a repeat of what happened in Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed. When the Soviet Union collapsed economically, hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers with fresh combat experience in Afghanistan (and little to offer in terms of skills) were dumped onto the street and into the waiting arms of criminal organizations. This process quickly turned Russian economics into a shooting sport. A place where wealth and firepower became synonymous.
The US, currently running a $1.5 trillion a year deficit with the spectre of HUGE cuts in the military (reduction in force) as an absolute certainty, will dump hundreds of thousands of combat vets onto the street w/o an economy able to absorb them. This is particularly true with the US economy about to start its next contraction w/o even recovering from the last one. Guess what happens next…
Beyond Growth co-founder Eric Schiller will give a presentation titled “Digital Hipsterism: Anti-intellectual Movements in Social Media” at EsoZone Portland 2011 on November 18. Here’s Eric’s description of the talk:
In this talk I will explore how social media technology has facilitated the creation of loose ‘internet cults’, and how they are used to influence their followers. I will analyze elements of the lifestyle design movement, Hacker News, and Reddit to further the thesis that social media portrays itself as a transparent means of communication yet in reality is anything but. Using the notion of ‘Digital Hipsterism’ to unmask the authoritarian and anti-intellectual core of these movements, I will demonstrate how depth of research and well reasoned arguments are not valued, but merely the appearance of depth is regarded as the ideal truth.
Eric is a part-time social critic and philosopher. When not writing snarky essays, he works as a freelance web designer and developer in Seattle.
Eric’s essay on digital hipsterism can be found here. You can read the Technoccult interview with Eric and his collaborator Duff McDuffee here.
American Knucklhead has quickly become my favorite podcast. It’s hosted by a local Portland college drop-out turned bowling alley equipment technician who goes by the name of Joe Knucklhead. Joe’s somehow managed to drift from Ohio through the mountain west and on up here to Oregon during his life, and has picked up a lot of observations about the state of the country and the people who inhabit it. Every two weeks or so he speaks his mind – just the perspective of your average American Knucklehead. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me this week.
Klint Finley: Thanks for taking time to talk to the liberal media Joe. Why don’t you start by explaining who you are and why you started a podcast, for those who aren’t already familiar with your show.
Joe Knucklehead: My name’s Joe and I’m just a regular shmoe that works in a bowling alley in Portland. I started to podcast because it seemed to me that a lot of things were starting to get a little hinky in the good old USA, and I had a few ideas about how us knuckleheads might fix ’em.
You live here in Portland, best known as a place full of anarchists, tree huggers and trust fund hippies. But if I’m not mistaken, you’re from what Sarah Palin once called “The Real America” – Ohio. How different is Portland from the rest of the country?
Well, a lot in someways, and not at all in others. That ambiguous enough for ya? Portland is different in that it seems a lot more tolerant of a wider range of opinions and behaviors. Where I grew up in Dacron, Ohio, it was a pretty homogenous population, and they didn’t take to weirdos too well. If you’ve ever seen Heathers you’ll know what I mean.
On the other hand, knuckleheads abound, and most folks want pretty much the same things; a chance to earn an honest buck, shelter, safety, a future for themselves and their families.
Well, I’ve noticed that if you get outside the inner Portland bubble – which is where I happen to live – and get out to the rest of the city it’s a lot less “hipster.”
Yeah, that’s for sure. There are hipsters and hipsters.
But what do you think? Is there anything to this red state/blue state divide – or urban vs. rural?
Y’know, I’ve seen studies that showed that red state/blue state voting patterns correlate amazingly well with population density. People in higher densities tend to be more “tweetery” – the higher density makes ’em have to deal with a variety of other ideas and opinions. That’s one of the reasons Portland is relatively progressive, I think.
You’ve been talking a bit lately about the Occupy movement. There’s this online counter-movement of conservatives called the “53%” who claim to be subsidizing the Occupy movement via taxes. They say that the protesters need to “stop whining.” What do you think about this – is it a real populist sentiment, or just more divisiveness?
Naw, it’s a total PR ploy. The guy that dreamed it up, Erick Erickson, is a woofer blogger, CNN talking head, and radio talk show host. I’d say he’s been amazingly effective at providing a pointless distraction.
Well, sure Erickson dreamed it up – but all those people sending in their pictures can’t just be paid actors can they?
Sure, they could be paid actors or just liars. Don’t trust the Internets!
OK – maybe I shouldn’t be so dismissive. It’s pretty easy to whip up anti-Occupy sentiment by resorting to old prejudices and bigotry. Things are scary right now, and people can behave oddly when they’re scared. I’m sure the Occupy movement seems real scary to plenty of Knuckleheads out there.
Yeah, the right wing talking heads have convinced people that the Occupy movement is all about communism. I was just at Occupy Wall Street last week and even I was surprised at how level headed and non-socialist it was. The organizers spent a lot of the time I was there talking about how Occupy to support local small businesses.
Yeah, Occupy Portland seems pretty broad-minded, too. The way the conflict with the Portland Marathon was handled was pretty impressive. They came to an amicable agreement, and both sides were pleased with the extra attention. Synergy, friends and neighbors!
I talked to a league bowler who’s been coming into the alley for years. he ran in the race, and I thought he’d be carping about the “hippies” at the finish line. Instead he said they were really great – applauding the runners as they came in.
It seems they’re really interested in pitching a big tent and creating a platform for people to discuss how best to address the issues we’re facing as a country. But do you think there’s any room for the Tea Party and Occupy to form an alliance, or are they too culturally different? I know the Tea Party has a certain amount of establishment support, from Fox News, the GOP and so on, but it does seem that there’s a legitimate grass roots element there that could lend its support to the goals of Occupy.
I think that’s the next logical step – although sometimes logic don’t play too well in Peoria. Still, I hope that the Knuckleheads in both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement will realize that there’s a lot of common ground, and that the extremists are better off on the margins. Perhaps this group could be mobilized to create one or more new parties – I don’t have much hope for the two parties we have now.
It seems that when anyone starts talking about wanting to improve our economic situation, the right wing response is to accuse those tho speak out against economic injustice as having a sense of “entitlement.” Entitlement has become a dirty word. But really – do you think the average American deserves better than what we’re getting?
There’s a big difference in having a sense of entitlement and wanting a level playing field. It seems that things for the average Knucklehead have gotten worse over the last two or three decades. Wages remain stagnant while the costs of education, healthcare, and so forth have really gone through the damn roof.
OK, we’ve so far in this interview we’ve been pretty friendly to liberals. What message would you like to send the liberal readership? What should liberal elitists like me know about knuckleheads like you?
The main problem I have with tweeters is that they get too focused on pet causes and issues – usually with a maniacal zeal that turns off Knuckleheads like me who aren’t totally on board with that particular pet issues. Right now, I think everybody ought to stick with a wider view. Let’s look at the forest, and we can obsess over individual trees later, huh?
What do you read, watch or listen to keep up with current events?
Everything that the Alaska Quitter does! I usually get my news from mainstream media websites: CNN, Reuters, AP, the Onion. Sometimes I can hoark a copy of the Economist from a friend.
Has anyone approached you about doing a “real” radio show? Have you talked to KBOO?
Hadn’t really thought of it. I did college radio before I got kicked out of Ohio State – it was a blast. That’s what I like about the podcasting – also I don’t have to do something like pull a weekly shift in some godawful 3 a.m.to 6 a.m. slot – the horror, the horror…
I interviewed Richard Metzger and R.U. Sirius last week at Contact. We talked about the Occupy movement, what it’s like to start a new publication today and whether tools for free speech have room for improvement.
I apologize in advance for the audio quality – I didn’t have a windscreen for my microphone, so things get pretty noisy when the wind picks up.
R.U. Sirius was the co-founder and editor of the influential cyberculture magazine Mondo 2000. He also ran for president on the Revolution Party ticket in 2000 and has worked for publications such as Wired and H+ Magazine. He recently started a new online publication called Acceler8or. He’s also working on an open source history of Mondo 2000. My previous interview with him is here.
Richard Metzger was the co-founder and creative director of Disinformation, where he served as the host of the online show Infinity Factory and the Channel 4 show Disinfo Nation. He’s now the editor and host of Dangerous Minds. My previous interview with him is here.