Adventure Time!

Awesome animation featuring wonderful motion, trippy yet innocent imagery, believable (if not entirely original) characters, and math-inspired exclamations like “algebraic!” Reminds me a bunch of a certain pair of brothers from back home…

This actually aired on Nickelodeon in January, as a short in a show called Random! Cartoons, a revival of Oh Yeah! Cartoons. Oh Yea! featured 3 animations each episode and by the end of its run had produced 99 different 7-minute cartoon shorts by a variety of animators. If Adventure Time is any guide, this present incarnation is something to be excited about. Maybe even a reason to start watching TV again.

But perhaps even more exciting, especially for those of us who would prefer to keep the tv off, is that the same producer, Frederator Studios, does a weekly internet cartoon show/podcast called Channel Frederator. The cartoons are submitted by animators from all over the world and each week they choose the ones they like the most. The downloads are high-quality, free (as in beer), and have no commercials (at least the few episodes I’ve watched). You can watch it in iTunes, but I prefer DemocracyTV. So far, I haven’t seen anything as rad as Adventure Time, but I’ve only watched maybe 4 of the 72 and counting episodes. 72 episodes! That’s a whole lot of animation. So ditch your homework, watch some cartoons, and let me know if you find anything good!

cute way to learn to code

Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby

Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby

Why’s (Poignant?) Guide uses cartoon foxes and pure silliness to teach (hipsters and pre-teen girls?) how to program in Ruby— the sleek, simple, and much hyped about scripting language from Japan. Perhaps not the best choice if you’re used to O’Reilly, but for those more familiar with Achewood and Cat and Girl, the Poignant Guide could be a fun way to pick up some skillz.

wear red today

FOUR YEARS IS ENOUGH!
STOP THE WAR!

Harvard Day of Dissent

Today, Tuesday, March 20

Over 3,200 U.S. troops and 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of violence since the beginning of the war on March 20, 2003.*

This Tuesday, students all across the country are speaking out on the 4th anniversary of the war. You can be one of them.

Schedule of Events:

10:00-1:00 – Science Center – Stop by the display to pick up anti-war patches and posters. Wear/post/spread your dissent.

12:00-12:45 pm – Vigil for Peace at the Harvard Divinity School.

1:00 pm – RALLY & SPEAKOUT at the SCIENCE CENTER. Come voice your opinion and hear faculty, students, and veterans speak out.

2:00-9:00 pm – CANDLELIGHT VIGIL on the steps of Memorial Church. Reading of the names of 3,000 US soldiers and 3,000 Iraqis dead.

All day – WEAR RED to protest the continuing bloodshed in Iraq.

http://harvard.facebook.com/event.php?eid=2252263819

And get ready for another big protest March 24th in Boston Common
http://harvard.facebook.com/event.php?eid=2250867105

*Figures from Iraq Coalition Casualties (icasualties.org/oif) and the Johns Hopkins study of Iraq mortality published in The Lancet:
www.thelancet.com/webfiles/images/journals/lancet/s0140673606694919.pdf

Opening Up To Open Access

Free Culture talk this Wednesday:

Opening Up to Open Access Flier

Governments worldwide invest billions of dollars in research every year. Yet the results of this research— a treasury of medical knowledge— are mostly privately owned and sold only to those who can afford the costly article fees or journal subscriptions. While there have been several movements in the scientific community to fix this problem, solutions for the social sciences and humanities have not been explored in depth.

Opening Up to Open Access
A Discussion with Gavin Yamey, Public Library of Science

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
7:30 – 8:45 PM
Sever 202, Harvard University

Cookies, brownies, and drinks will be served.

Sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet & Public Policy and Harvard College Free Culture

For more information about PLoS, please see http://www.plos.org

flier
facebook

Plastic Approach

My friend & roommate, the lovely Karen Adelman, has an installation up this weekend. If you’re in or around Cambridge, you should check it out. I hear there will be tunnels.

PLASTIC APPROACH
an installation by karen adelman
in adams art space

OPEN Friday, March 9: 3-7pm
Saturday, March 10: 5-9pm
Sunday, March 11: 12-3pm

Adams Art Space is on Linden Street, but the gate is closed on the weekends so you have to enter through Adams House.

Camille Paglia on Cults

Black Mass (small)Cults and Cosmic Consciousness:
Religious Vision in the American 1960s

One of my favorite writers on one of my favorite fascinations. More than just an overview of the various cults and fringe religious/spiritual movements America has seen since the 60s, Paglia argues that Western rationalism’s insistence on ignoring “Dionysus” (religion, spirituality, nature) has left a huge void in our culture and psyche. Thus, until our intellectual and artistic leaders acknowledge and embrace humanity’s need for ritual and mystery, cults and other dubious institutions will thrive. But don’t take my weak summary as a substitute for the essay. It’s long but oh so worth it, if only because Paglia is such a damn good writer.

Hence the religious dissidence and secessionist tendencies of the 1960s were simply a new version of a long American tradition. The decade’s politics loom large partly because demonstrations, unlike inner journeys, were photographable and indeed often staged for the camera. Today’s young people learn about the sixties through a welter of video clips of JFK’s limousine in Dallas, Vietnamese firefights, and hippies draped in buckskin and love beads. Furthermore, the most fervent of the decade’s spiritual questers followed Timothy Leary’s advice to “Turn on, tune in, and drop out” and removed themselves from career tracks and institutions, which they felt were too corrupt to reform. The testimony of those radical explorers of inner space has largely been lost: they ruined their minds and bodies by overrelying on drugs as a shortcut to religious illumination.

The absence of those sixties seekers from the arena of general cultural criticism can be seen in the series of unresolved controversies in the last two decades over the issue of blasphemy in art. With the triumph of avant-garde modernism by the mid-twentieth century, few ambitious young artists would dare to show religious work. Though museum collections are rich with religious masterpieces from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century, major American museums and urban art galleries ignore contemporary religious art-thus ensuring, thanks to the absence of strong practitioners, that it remains at the level of kitsch. And the art world itself has suffered: with deeper themes excised, it slid into a shallow, jokey postmodernism that reduced art to ideology and treated art works as vehicles of approved social messages.

The article is not without its flaws of course. Burningman is a glaring omission; a massive celebration of nature, sex, and art that is known for its participation by many really smart people (like the founders of google) in addition to the usual new-age types. And her solution, that universities should make the core of their education comparative religion and culture, seems a bit backwards and Apolloesque. Myths are passed down through storytelling and ritual; the classroom strikes me as an impotent setting for the cultural change Paglia calls for. I want tangible ways to channel Dionysus; active artists, thinkers, and activities to re-inject myth/spirituality/whatever-you-want-to-call-it into our culture. Some people/things who have done that for me in some way already:

  • Francesca Lia Block (author- fairy tales, paganism, magic)
  • David Lynch (filmmaker- transcendental meditation, iconic bizarreness, dreams)
  • Brian Jonestown Massacre (band- psychedelia)
  • Clifford Pickover (author- pop writing on the intersections and wonders of science, religion, consciousness, and art)
  • Rick Strassman & Alexander Shulgin (researchers- psychedelic drugs)
  • Pedro Almodovar (filmmaker- femininity, sexuality, myth, beauty, religion, sensuality)
  • Neal Stephenson (author- east/west dichotomy, collective unconsciousness, past & future, relationship between art & technology)

Who/what is on your list?

Open Access Day & Linux Desktop Publishing

Open Access Day Bookmark (Harvard)Thursday was the National Day of Action on Open Access (I’m a bit late with this post). To celebrate, I designed some informational bookmarks for the Free Culture groups at Harvard, MIT, and Northeastern. We distributed a few hundred of them in college libraries. This was my first project using Inkscape and I am quite pleased with the application: simple, intuitive, well-documented, and open source. Vector graphics are a super way to work. One nice perk of Inkscape is the ability to cleanly export to Adobe Illustrator format, which hugely simplifies dealing with the printer.

In the spirit of the day, I used not only open source software, but also Open Clip Art and free fonts (Dustismo and Nimbus), so the project is totally free. I’m so glad that creating decent-looking desktop publishing on Linux is now painless. In 9th grade, I spent days trying to get pretty fonts to work with Gimp, and now they’re just an apt-get away. To be fair, that was 5 years ago and I had no idea what I was doing. But now I don’t need to know squat. Yay!

Rebecca R. Rojer