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And Jace, who created a piece on the building’s fifth floor that includes a frighteningly large mousetrap, made of wood and metal and baited with a huge bag of fake money — a clear jab at the development that is about to transform the building — probably won the prize for longest commute. He flew in from the island of Réunion, east of Madagascar, where he lives, spent several days in the building and then returned.

“It’s like a family reunion we’ve got here,” said one artist in from Milan who calls himself Bo and works with a partner, a small woman who calls herself Microbo. “Except some of the family you’ve never met before.”

The other evening, as music blared from multiple stereos, about a dozen artists were arrayed among the floors, still at work. One known as Lady Pink, a veteran New York graffiti artist, was applying the last touches to a large, pink supine version of the Statue of Liberty that was being impaled with a cross but seeming somehow to enjoy it.


Washington Post:

They sent congratulatory telegrams to Hamas, their rabbis advised Yasser Arafat (and took a fee for their trouble), and they stood outside the White House wagging signs — “Judaism Has No Right to Rule over ANY PART of the Holy Land” — to protest a November visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

But even by the standards of Neturei Karta, these most ultra of ultra-orthodox Jewish Hasids took a step into the world of the very strange, if not the meshuga, or crazy, when they showed up as honored guests at a conference of Holocaust skeptics and deniers in Tehran. With a hug and a smile for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rabbi Aharon Cohen walked into a conference room with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, discredited academics, and more than a few white supremacists and served up a rousing welcome speech.



The stadium was packed, the guns were cocked and even the drenching rain could not douse the jihadist fire.

Thousands of Somalis, from fully veiled, machine-gun-toting women to little boys in baggy fatigues, gathered Friday to rally against what they called foreign aggression. As a squall blew in, they punched wet fists into the air and yelled, “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”

“I am ready to die,” said Osama Abdi Rahim, dressed head to toe in camouflage and marching around with a loaded rifle. He is 7 years old.


Mark, Male 27-year-old, from MySpace:

I certainly love girls who look at me and judge me without ever actually talking to me or anything, then go running to their friends talking sh*t about how I hit on her! Look at you ya dumb bitch, yea you “might” be hot but you’re dating a loser who is lucky to clear 30k a year and has no aspirations to do anything with his life but party. Lucky catch sweetheart, congrats!***Party girls, ugh the bain to my existance. Every night you can be found clubbing it up in Scottsdale or whever you and your harlot friends go. Then you call me bitching how you are poor, cant find a nice guy and what you should do, how about this for a thought STOP HANGING OUT WITH YOUR SLUTTY FRIENDS AND GET A JOB!!, enough said there (she knows who she is!)


Regret The Error:

Gather ’round for our annual collection of the funny, shocking, sad and disturbing media errors and corrections from the past year. From typos that celebrate Queen Elizabeth and her remarkable egg-laying abilities, to media hoaxes, unreliable sources, the Sago disaster and apologies for mistakes nearly 120 years ago, it was a good year for Regret. Though not a banner one for our media brethren.
We dubbed 2005 the Year of Consequences. This latest was the Year of the Belated Apology. Read on for the details and, in our vernacular, The Crunks.


Washington Post:

But not always. In one Loudoun incident that has become infamous among area police departments, a man stole a bait vehicle and was able to drive it from Leesburg to Southeast Washington because of technical difficulties. Police eventually got the suspect, minutes after the camera caught him smoking crack and masturbating. He had spent part of his ride urinating in a soda can, then drinking his urine to try to quell a case of the hiccups. He also vomited twice.

“We still crack up about that one,” said Detective Chris Dengeles, of Arlington’s auto theft unit. Mostly, though, “we might have guys muttering to themselves. Nothing real exciting.”


GameSpot, by Crom:

The world of Conan the Cimmerian, the fantasy barbarian of legend created by Robert E. Howard, portrayed in films by Arnold Schwarzenegger and re-created in several games, is returning to consoles. Funcom today announced that the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures has been approved for the Xbox 360 by Microsoft.

While this is good news for 360 fans who yearn to crush their enemies, see them driven before them, and hear the lamentations of their women, it isn’t especially surprising.


The New York Times Magazine’s Year in Ideas issue is always a fascinating read. A lot of these topics were already posted here on my blog from other news sources as the year went on, but I want to highlight some of my favorites with links to the Magazine:

Bicycle Helmets Put You at Risk

Walker decided to find out — putting his own neck on the line. He rigged his bicycle with an ultrasonic sensor that could detect how close each car was that passed him. Then he hit the roads, alternately riding with a helmet and without for two months, until he had been passed by 2,500 cars. Examining the data, he found that when he wore his helmet, motorists passed by 8.5 centimeters (3.35 inches) closer than when his head was bare. He had increased his risk of an accident by donning safety gear.

The Boomerang Drone

When the Phantom Sentinel takes flight, it looks like an awkward boomerang — a set of three small blades. It spins in a circle, faster and faster as it ascends into the sky. Then, when it reaches about 50 feet, it whirls so fast that something remarkable happens: it vanishes right before your very eyes.


Kivetz also interviewed 69 students from Columbia University who had returned one week previously from winter break and found that as a group they were split in roughly equal numbers between regret and contentment for having worked or partied. But when Kivetz talked to alumni who graduated 40 years earlier, the picture was much more lopsided: those who hadn’t partied were bitter with regret, while those who had were now thrilled with their choice. “In the long run,” Kivetz says, “we inevitably regret being virtuous and wish we’d been bigger hedonists.”

N.C.A.A. Psyop

On game day, when Pruitt went to the foul line for the first time, Cal students began chanting: “Victoria! Victoria!” and reciting Pruitt’s phone number. Pruitt, a 79 percent free-throw shooter on the season, missed both shots and had one of his worst games of the year, shooting 3 for 13 from the field. Cal won the game by 11 points and went on to the N.C.A.A. tournament.

Psychological Neoteny

The next time you see a mother of three head-banging to death metal or a 50-year-old man sporting a faux-hawk, don’t laugh. According to Bruce Charlton, a doctor and psychology professor at Newcastle University in Britain, what looks like immaturity — or in Charlton’s kinder terms, the “retention of youthful attitudes and behaviors into later adulthood” — is actually a valuable developmental characteristic, which he calls psychological neoteny.

Reverse Graffiti

The British artist Paul Curtis is not sure what to call his version of vandalism. “People call it ‘reverse graffiti,’ ” he says, “but I prefer something less sinister: ‘clean tagging’ or ‘grime writing.’ ” Curtis, a k a Moose, selectively scrubs dirty, derelict city property (tunnel walls, sidewalks) so that words and images are formed by the cleaned bits. “It’s refacing,” he says, “not defacing. Just restoring a surface to its original state. It’s very temporary. It glows and it twinkles, and then it fades away.”

Workplace Rumors Are True

So you heard from Bill, who heard from Martha in accounting, who heard from Chucky in the mailroom that the company’s plan is to downsize your division right before Christmas, and your head is on the chopping block. Stay calm, right? It’s only a rumor. Well, this is partly true: it is only a rumor. On the other hand, because it’s a rumor, and because it has been passed along by various colleagues, chances are very, very good that you’re doomed.

Full list of 74 ideas Here.


“I am facing the most difficult times of my life here in Baghdad. Since I am a Sunni, I became a target to be killed. You know that our army and police are Shia, so every checkpoint represents a serious threat to Sunnis. During the last three weeks, two of my friends were killed at check points belonging to the police. They first asked to show IDs and when they saw the Sunni family name, they killed them.”

There, in plain enough English, you have it. The Iraqi Army and police whose proposed reinforcement lies at the center of the Iraq Study Group’s plan for American extraction are often less neutral institutions supporting the nation than a flimsy camouflage for Shia to settle accounts with Sunnis, while the Kurds bide their time and hope the child of chaos will be an independent Kurdistan.

The Iraqi Army and police are indeed overwhelmingly — but not exclusively — Shia. Most recruitment took place at a time when Sunnis had opted out of the new Iraq. Much has been made of the American error in disbanding Saddam Hussein’s army. More might have been made of the errors committed in creating the new force.



Lately, the major labels have in effect tried to move into the talent management business by demanding that new artists seeking record contracts give their label a cut of concert earnings or T-shirt and merchandise revenue — areas that had once been outside the labels’ bailiwick.

“They’re all starting to ask for the same things,” said Theo Sedlmayr, an entertainment lawyer based in New York who represents acts like 50 Cent.

There has also been a scramble to squeeze revenue from other unconventional sources, including amateur videos posted to YouTube that incorporate copyrighted songs. Universal Music threatened to withhold its huge music catalog from Microsoft’s new digital music service unless it received a royalty of more than $1 on each sale of the technology giant’s Zune portable music player.


Washington Post:

A few blocks from Ali Farouk’s three-story home, an empty house provides a glimpse of what he fears will be the future. Once owned by a Sunni Muslim, the paint is peeling, the windows are blown out. Two scarlet X’s mark the pale blue front door.

To the door’s right are the words: “Not for Sale. Wanted.”

According to neighbors, “Wanted” refers to the former owner, who fled after crossing paths with the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The gunmen accused the owner of killing four of their own at a checkpoint. Then they took over his house.

To the door’s left, the words: “This is vengeance for the other day.”


From VII, photographs by Antonin Kratochvil:

It is estimated that at least one million Africans earn pennies a day in the backbreaking and increasingly fruitless search for diamonds – a $60-billion-a-year industry that, back in the 1990s, rebels in Sierra Leone and Liberia financed their carnage from diamonds plucked out of the rivers and traded for arms. During a decade of war about 50,000 people were killed, and thousands had their hands hacked off by rebels. Now, a new Hollywood movie is raising tough questions about Africa’s bloody diamond trade.


Featuring Jeremy Harmon, Darren Soh, Matt Burden, Matt Eich, Per Jose Karlan, Ramin Rahimian, Concepterrorism, Lars Borges, Troy Boman, Douglas Baulos, G.J. McCarthy

Check it out here.


The eight-part series, which begins on Sunday on Showtime and will be shown on consecutive nights, is smart and suspenseful and teeters just this side of seditious. It doesn’t condone jihad or the hate that fuels it, but it tries to show why they hate us, and in doing so goes further than any other post-9/11 drama on American television.

This season goes further afield. The action in the first season was limited mostly to Los Angeles. This time the plot snakes in and around Los Angeles, London, Hamburg, Sarajevo, back alleys in Sudan, palaces in Saudi Arabia and remote desert base camps in Yemen.

It’s a Tom Clancy cloak-and-dagger tale as told by Graham Greene. Terrorists on “Sleeper Cell” are evil, but the United States is neither innocent nor blameless and carries the seed of its own decline. For every act of barbarity by Muslim radicals, and there are plenty — from nuclear Armageddon to the beheading of a female F.B.I. agent on camera — there is a parallel, if not equivalent, blunder by American law enforcement officials and civilians.


The Moscow Times:

Skinhead leader Ruslan Melnik was sentenced Tuesday by St. Petersburg’s Pushkinsky District Court to 3 1/2 years in prison for his role in the violent group Mad Crowd.

Mad Crowd members have been charged with beating and killing several dark-skinned foreigners.

The district court also found Melnik, 22, guilty of organizing specific attacks, including beatings of Chinese and Armenian citizens and an attack on a McDonald’s restaurant. The verdict said Melnik vandalized McDonalds because he believed it served “Zionist food, which promotes and enforces the American lifestyle.”


WFMU’s Beware the Blog:

Fans of Andy Kaufman might recall his patented “windmill punch” from his wrestling days, in which he whipped both his arms around non-stop, Pete-Townsend like. He claimed that nobody could touch him while he was “in the punch.”

Hardcore dancing incorporated Andy’s windmill punch into its roster of accepted dance moves long ago, but until I saw this video of the Pennsylvania harcore band cdc doing their song Crowd War, I didn’t realize just how popular the Kaufman influence had become: download mpeg video, 10 megs, or youtube it. (The band cdc is not to be confused with the cult of the dead cow or the center for disease control).



Trouble rears its ugly head at the video arcade in this racy 1980s teen comedy about a group of kids who battle a local businessman with plans to shut down the popular hangout. Concerned parent Joe Rutter (Joe Don Baker) believes that video games will destroy the teens’ minds, and when he tries to close down the arcade, it’s up to King Vidiot (Jon Gries), nerdy Eugene (Leif Green) and the rest of the gang to defend their right to play Pac-Man.



None more metal. None more gay
An American answer to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, Rochester, New York’s Manowar embody every conceivable heavy-metal cliché: Bodybuilders all, the four wear leather and animal pelts onstage; singer Eric Adams shrieks only of death, warfare and the glory of metal; Joey DeMaio performs solo bass renditions of “The Flight of the Bumblebee.” They’re quite possibly the most ludicrous people in rock & roll history.
Appalling fact In 1993, Russian youth voted Manowar above the Beatles and Michael Jackson as the act they would most like to see perform live.
Worst CD Sign of the Hammer (EMI, 1985)


NYT Magazine:

Egypt’s most famous crackdown got under way at a neon floating disco, the Queen Boat, docked on the wealthy Nile-side island of Zamalek, just steps from the famously gay-friendly Marriott Hotel. In the early-morning hours of May 11, 2001, baton-wielding police officers descended upon the boat, where men were dancing and drinking. Security officials rounded up more than 50 of them — doctors, teachers, mechanics. Those who were kept in custody became known among Egyptians as the Queen Boat 52. The detained men were beaten, bound, tortured; some were even subjected to exams to determine whether they had engaged in anal sex. In the weeks that followed, official, opposition and independent newspapers printed the names, addresses and places of work of the detained. Front pages carried the men’s photographs, not always with black bars across their eyes. The press accused the men of sexual excesses, dressing as women, devil worship, even dubious links to Israel. Bakry’s newspaper, Al Osboa, helped lead the charge.

The Queen Boat was just the beginning. Agents of the Department for Protection of Morality, a sort of vice squad within the Ministry of Interior’s national police force, began monitoring suspected gay gathering spots, recruiting informants, luring people into arrest via chat sites on the Internet, tapping phones, raiding homes. Today, arrests and roundups occur throughout the country, from the Nile Delta towns of Damanhour and Tanta to Port Said along the Suez Canal and into Cairo.


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