You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2008.

Found on Digg; originally on Matthew Kendig's Flickr photostream.

Found on Digg; originally on Matthew Kendig's Flickr photostream. Dugg.

“Please tip; we are trying to raise $700 billion to help rich folks.”

Time magazine recently came out with a list of their recommendations of the top 10 banned books to read.  I think it’s pretty solid.  Here’s a preview of the article; click on any book to read the full story:

Candide (Voltaire)

Candide (Voltaire)

In a nutshell: “This classic French satire lampoons all things sacred — armies, churches, philosophers, even the doctrine of optimism itself.”

Intriguing quote: “The effect is equal parts hilarious and shocking. (Imagine Monty Python circa 1759).”

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

In a nutshell: “Critics deemed Mark Twain’s use of common vernacular (slang) demeaning and damaging.”

Intriguing quote: “In an attempt to avoid controversy, CBS Television produced a made-for-TV adaptation of the book in 1955 that lacked a single mention of slavery, or even any African American cast members to portray the character of Jim.”

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

In a nutshell:  “Huxley’s 1932 work — about a drugged, dull and mass-produced society of the future — has been challenged for its themes of sexuality, drugs, and suicide.”

Intriguing quote: “In Huxley’s vision of the 26th century, Henry Ford is the new God (worshipers say “Our Ford” instead of “Our Lord,”) and the car maker’s concept of mass production has been applied to human reproduction.”

Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)

Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell)

In a nutshell: “[Nineteen Eighty-Four] chronicles the grim future of a society robbed of free will, privacy or truth.”

Intriguing quote: “Oddly enough, parents in Jackson County, Fla. would challenge the book in 1981 for being “pro-Communist.” (Did they even read it?)

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

In a nutshell: “Literary critics have both hailed and assailed the novel, which broke the literary mold with its focus on character development rather than plot. Holden Caulfield, the novel’s protagonist, has since become a symbol of adolescent angst.”

Intriguing quote: “The book introduced slang expressions like the term “screw up” (as in, “Boy, it really screws up my sex life something awful.”)”

Lolita (Vladmir Nabokov)

Lolita (Vladmir Nabokov)

In a nutshell: “This 1955 novel explores the mind of a self-loathing and highly intelligent pedophile named Humbert Humbert, who narrates his life and the obsession that consumes it: his lust for “nymphets” like 12-year-old Dolores Haze.”

Intriguing quote: “[Lolita was] first published in France by a pornographic press.”

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

In a nutshell: “This 1970 memoir angered censors for its graphic depiction of racism and sex, especially the passages in which she recounts being raped by her mother’s boyfriend as an eight-year-old child.”

Intriguing quote: “The American Library Association ranked it the 5th most challenged book of the 21st century.”

The Anarchist Cookbook (William Powell)

The Anarchist Cookbook (William Powell)

In a nutshell: “Powell was just 19 when he wrote this 1971 cult classic. The guerrilla how-to book managed to not only anger government officials, but anarchist groups as well.”

Intriguing quote: “Other critics attacked the book for more practical reasons — some of the bomb-making recipes that Powell included turned out to be dangerously inaccurate.”

The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie)

The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie)

In a nutshell: “This book sparked riots across the world for what some called a blasphemous treatment of the Islamic faith.”

Intriguing quote: “Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini put a $1 million bounty on [Rushdie's] head; Venezuelan officials threatened anyone who owned or read the book with 15 months of prison; a Japanese translator was stabbed to death for his involvement with the book; Walden Books and Barnes & Noble removed the book from shelves after receiving death threats; under the protection of British authorities, Rushdie himself lived in hiding for nearly a decade.””

Ill leave the last book on the list as a surprise.

Can you guess what the last book is?

I’ll leave the last book on the list as a surprise.

Looking back, it seems almost unbelievable that these books, many of which are now regarded as classics, were once banned or continue to be challenged.  Wondering where your favorite book is on the list?  Take a look at the ALA’s list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.  Want to know what modern-day books are causing a stir?  Check out part 2 of my post on Banned Books Week, featuring the 10 most challenged books of 2006, coming soon.

Ecoist.com sells handbags and accessories made from repurposed candy wrappers, food labels, movie posters, billboards, and other materials that would otherwise have ended up in landfills.  Their collections are designed by artists from around the world, and are manufactured in non-sweatshop, free trade environments.

We believe that style comes first.  However, by promoting our brand, we hope to enhance the planet, elevate consumer consciousness, and transmit our values, not just our sense of style.

Ecoist.com

Ecoist’s bags are pretty pricey at $25 – $150 for any bags approximating a practical size, though they do carry other items and have periodic sales.  You can do what I do and window-shop by signing up for their email newsletter.  You’ll be entered in a monthly drawing for a free handbag; besides, the newsletter is just fun to look at for the adorable and innovative designs they carry:

Coasters, Subway collection, $18

Coasters, Subway collection, $18

Coin purse, Sprinkles collection, $22

Coin purse, Sprinkles collection, $22

Baguette, Coca-Cola collection, $48

Baguette, Coca-Cola collection, $48

Small Tote (made from a movie billboard), One-of-a-kind collection, $48

Small Tote (made from a movie billboard), One-of-a-kind collection, $48

The LBD, Confetti collection, $60

The LBD, Confetti collection, $60

Francisca, one-of-a-kind collection, $84

Francisca (made from soda can tabs), one-of-a-kind collection, $84

The Daily, One-of-a-kind collection, $158

The Daily, One-of-a-kind collection, $158

Ecoist’s website also has a photo gallery that offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at all of the work that goes into making one handbag:

Coca-Cola bottlers provide off-spec labels that could have otherwise end up in landfills.

Coca-Cola bottlers provide off-spec labels that could have otherwise end up in landfills.

The labels are cut according to design specifications.

The labels are cut according to design specifications.

Each piece is folded individually to create a module; modules are interlaced to create braids which are then sewn to make bags.

Each piece is folded individually to create a module; modules are interlaced to create braids which are then sewn to make bags.

The zipper is placed and the bag is complete.

The zipper is placed and the bag is complete.

Look to Ecoist’s website to learn more about their business model and philosophy, the variety of media coverage they’ve gotten, and of course, all the collections and products I didn’t have space to cover.

ChunkIt!, a search engine tool created by the company I’m interning for, was featured this year in an article called “11 Things You Shouldn’t Leave For School Without”.  The article was posted on Dumb Little Man, which is kind of like LifeHacker in that it teaches you tips for making your life easier.

The article’s 10 little-known but highly recommended websites for students includes OttoBib, an automatic bibliography creator tool; eFax, which allows you to recieve faxes as email attachments in your inbox; and Qipit, which allows you easily to turn cameraphone photos of your school notes into documents.

Of course, the website I was most excited about seeing in the article was getchunkit.com:

”Instead of clicking from link to link, this add-on is able to mine every link on a web page and pulls out the information for you. Makes researching 10x faster.”‘

Dumb Little Man about ChunkIt!

“11 Things You Shouldn’t Leave for School Without” was featured on Propeller this week, and has something like 1500 diggs on Digg.  If you’re a student, check it out and bookmark it; it has lots of helpful suggestions.

One cool feature of WordPress is that it allows you to see what links and search terms people use to find your blog.  I get a lot of hits from search terms like “TI-83 programming” and “the hills mtv” that relate to articles I’ve written in the past, but once in a while there’s a hit from a totally unrelated search:

I do not in fact have a blog post about machines to toilet paper trees.  True story.  Sorry dude.

I do not in fact have a blog post about machines to toilet paper trees. True story.

My curiosity as to how this search term somehow led someone to exploringberkeley was piqued.  I did a bit of investigation on Google, and while I did not find my blog on the first page of search terms, I did find:

These findings bring up some very important questions, not the least of which are Has MacGyver watched this important how-to video about making toilet paper trees? and Why does a website called “Toilet Paper World” even exist? But the question I most want answered is Who are you, mysterious and/or shady person who demands a TP-ing machine from the world, and how did you find me?

So many questions.  At least now we know the answer to the age-old query on Chris’s Threadless shirt:

He'd build a green construction paper tree, that's what. BAD ASS.

Burning Man is an annual Labor Day event that draws thousands of people to Black Rock Desert, Nevada to participate in a four-day experiment in community living and self-reliance.  It’s obviously famous for its namesake effigy of The Man, but also for its participants’ self-expression (think elaborate costumes and the annual Critical Tits procession, which is exactly what it sounds like) as well as art of stunning proportions that is centered around an annual theme.

Nearly 50,000 people participated in Burning Man 2008, “American Dream”.  Burning Man is a big thing among the Berkeley community; even my Physics professor from last spring goes.  I have never gone, but here are some images, posted by attendees, of the striking art at this year’s exhibit:

Bone Tree.

Mutants.

The Man from afar.

Nightlife.

The bumper actually reads "Bummer".

The men in this giant ketchup bottle served free french fries each night.

Actually two seperate pieces rather than a strange tribute to Donnie Darko.

As with many Burning Man installations, this one featured real people as part of the art.

Dragon car.

These are attendees, not an art piece, but I couldnt leave it out.  So awesome.  It looks like the Black Rock Desert is Tatooine.

These are attendees, not an art installation, but I couldn't leave it out. So awesome. It looks like the Black Rock Desert is Tatooine.

You can see more images from Burning Man 2008′s attendee-submitted image gallery, or check out Robyn Johnson’s list of the 13 Coolest Art Installations in the History of Burning Man.  For more on what it’s like to attend Burning Man for the first time, read Madeline Greco’s well-written account of her experience.  If you have an extra $200-$300 lying around and a free Labor Day weekend, you can attend Burning Man 2009, “Evolution: A Tangled Bank”.

Today is brought to you by the number 42.

Why is 42 so important today?  Sure, it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything.  But I bet you didn’t know that 42 is also the number of days until the 2008 General Election.

Depending on your age, this may be the first presidential election in which you are eligible to vote, and you are of course doing your civic duty by doing everything a young voter does to be as educated as possible about the issues at hand.  You’ve watched The Daily Show’s coverage of Indecision 2008.  You’ve seen the YouTube You Choose candidate debates.  You keep up with projections on fivethirtyeight.  You’ve observed the venerated and unbiased political arena that is Digg.  You’ve become a member of the Facebook group of the candidate you most support.

The Best F***ing News Team Ever

The Best F***ing News Team Ever

In all seriousness, though, you might be forgetting something important.  You’re probably going to college outside of the county in which you registered to vote.  Have you registered to be a vote-by-mail voter in November’s General Election?

Fear not.  I have collected all of the necessary URLs for you to strip away the last of your excuses not to vote in three easy steps.  If you’re not a California resident, you’ll need to look up the equivalent forms for your state.

  1. Fill out a very short application to recieve vote-by-mail voter status for this election. You can also check a box to become a permanent vote-by-mail voter (voter-by-mail?), but if your college address keeps changing, I’d advise against it.
  2. Mail the application to your county elections office.
  3. Start reading up on this year’s propositions. You’ll get an official voter information guide in the mail as well.  Think you don’t care about state propositions?  Think again.  Do you care about a high speed rail system spanning across the state?  Do you care about the treatment of farm animals?  Do you care about abortion for minors?  Do you care about whether same-sex marriages will continue to be recognized?

If you’re not registered to vote, but you are a United States citizen who will be at least 18 years old on November 4, 2008, and you are not a felon or legally mentally incompetent, shame on you!  You can’t let all of the money both campaigns have spent on influencing our highly prized and elusive 18-25 demographic go to waste.  Besides, there are hungry kids in Africa who wish they had your ballot to cast.  Fill out a registration form online here.  They really can’t make it any easier for you people.

Registered to vote?  Submitted vote-by-mail status?  Awesome.  We now interrupt this program to bring you a nonpartisan message from Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton.

Click to see the SNL Palin/Hillary Open from SNL last week.

"I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy." "And I can see Russia from my house!"

Just in case you haven’t yet gotten around to watching to the magical wonderment that is “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”, I thought I’d write a friendly blog post reminder for you:  Watch it now, damn it.

The sing-along blog is really a short musical film that explores the life of an aspiring supervillain named Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris).  When Dr. Horrible isn’t plotting to take over the world with his Freeze Ray or fretting over his application to join the Evil League of Evil, he’s awkwardly and adorably crushing on Penny (Felicia Day), the sweet girl from the laundromat.  His plans to rule the world and get the girl are repeatedly foiled by his archnemesis, the hilariously vapid and self-absorbed Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion).

Directed by Joss Whedon, who also dircted Buffy, Firefly, and that great episode of The Office when Dwight thinks Jim is a vampire.

Directed by Joss Whedon, who also dircted Buffy, Firefly, and that great episode of The Office when Dwight thinks Jim is a vampire.

Neil Patrick Harris is just the right combination of earnest and awkward in his role as the title character, and is a surprisingly good singer when it comes to the musical numbers.  I was too young to watch Doogie Howser when it was still airing, so my first knowledge of who Neil Patrick Harris is was from his cameo doing a line of coke off a stripper in “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”.  (This is only slightly less awful than my friend Ellie knowing Kim Jong-Il as “the guy from ‘Team America: World Police’”.)

An educational film addressing global politics.

Team America is an educational film addressing issues in global politics today.

Just to get you started, here’s a clip of Dr. Horrible singing about his secret crush on Penny, the girl next door:

How could you not be rooting for the villain for once?

The musical is 43 minutes long and is broken up into three parts, so you really have no excuse not to drop everything and watch it legally on Hulu.com right this minute.  Shouts to Ayse, who introduced it to me, and in turn Cheese, who I believe introduced it to her.

I went to Berkeley Bowl off Shattuck for the first time yesterday and left wondering where it had been all my life.  Berkeley Bowl is a local, non-chain store version of Whole Foods, that carries fresh local produce at eye-poppingly low prices.

How much would you pay at your local supermarket for this collection of vegetables?  (Hold on to your eyeballs.)

broccoli, roma tomatoes, celery, baby carrots, red potatoes, sprouts

Clockwise, from top: broccoli, roma tomatoes, celery, baby carrots, red potatoes, sprouts.

Here’s how much you can expect to pay at Berkeley Bowl:

  • Baby carrots: $0.89
  • Sprouts: $1.15
  • Roma tomatoes: $0.50
  • Red potatoes: $0.64
  • Bunched broccoli: $1.08
  • Celery: $0.59
  • Credit for bringing my own bag: -$0.05
  • Total: $4.80

I thought that the cashier had made a mistake at first and forgotten to swipe half of my produce through the register.  I wouldn’t have even been able to pay for my purchase if I used debit card because it was under the $5.00 minimum charge.  Wowza.

I’ve spoken to a few veteran shoppers and they agree that you’re better off buying non-produce at Trader Joe’s or another supermarket, but that you can’t beat Berkeley Bowl for its selection and prices of fruits and veggies.

Here’s the info, in case you want to make a visit to see for yourself:

Berkeley Bowl

2020 Oregon Street

Berkeley, CA 94703

www.berkeleybowl.com

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