|Despite Repeated Attempts To Tear It Down, Massive LeBron James Mural Keeps Reappearing||
Jul 17th, 2010 3:54:37 am - Subscribe
CLEVELAND—Shocked Cleveland residents stared silently Thursday as workers tried for the 11th consecutive day to dismantle the massive black-and-white "We Are All Witnesses" LeBron James mural hanging from the downtown area's Landmark Office Tower.
Friday morning, as was the case the previous morning and the morning before that, Clevelanders awoke to find the iconic, 10-story-tall image of James—his arms fully extended after tossing his signature talcum powder into the air—completely intact, dominating the city's skyline as if it had never even been touched.
In the week since James' announcement that he would join the Miami Heat, Cleveland city officials and citizens alike have attempted to tear down, shred, deface, and even burn the image from the wall only to find it back in place the next day.
No one has reported observing the mural's reappearance.
"We can't escape it," said 42-year-old Clevelander Mark Hoffman, who along with 300 other local Cavaliers fans watched as the mural was ripped into thousands of pieces and buried under two tons of dirt in Riverside Cemetery Wednesday evening. "The next morning it was there. Just…there. It's always there. Hovering over us like some sort of demon."
"We are all witnesses," a visibly traumatized Hoffman mumbled while swaying back and forth, his eyes engaged in a removed, distant stare. "We are all witnesses. We are all witnesses. We are all witnesses."
As the city becomes increasingly disturbed and agitated, sources confirmed that the banner's sinister hold on the metropolis appears to be growing in strength. The image, they say, somehow becomes clearer and more ominous each time it reappears, intensifying the utter hopelessness and betrayal citizens have felt ever since James held a nationally broadcast television special to announce that he was leaving his home state in search of an NBA title with the Heat.
The banner's resilience has reportedly taken on almost supernatural properties: On Tuesday city officials removed it panel by panel, only to find an identical mural hanging directly behind it. On Wednesday, not only did the banner reappear after being loaded onto a chartered one-way flight to Siberia, but the LeBron James depicted in the new banner was wearing a Heat jersey and holding two NBA Championship trophies in his outstretched hands.
"I walked up to the banner with a ladder and a rented power sprayer and painted it over about halfway," 36-year-old Luke Denton said. "I took a two-minute break to get some water, and when I looked up, the paint had disappeared. As if I'd never even done it."
"And I could have sworn that LeBron's face was staring right at me," Denton added. "He had this demented grin that I'll never forget. Why does he want to torture us? Why?"
Though the hated billboard is said to typically reappear as James' haunting likeness, some have seen other disturbing images. Last Thursday when the mural was attached to four 1,000-pound weights and forcibly sunk in the Cuyahoga River, commuters driving into the city reported seeing in its place a 10-story-tall photograph of John Elway leading Denver to victory over the Browns in the 1987 AFC Championship game. Others saw a still image of Michael Jordan jumping into the air and pumping his fist after his game-winning shot over Craig Ehlo. Many pedestrians, meanwhile, reported seeing a 100-foot banner of Earnest Byner's 1988 fumble on the three-yard line.
An attempt to demolish the building altogether proved futile, as it was mysteriously replaced the following day by the completely new 15-story Art Modell Public Library.
"I would like to assure the citizens of Cleveland that we are doing everything in our power to rid our city of the LeBron James mural," Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson said Thursday, adding that a priest from Bulgaria would be brought to the city next week to exorcise the banner. "That being said, if you gouge your eyes out like I did, you can't see the image."
"However," Jackson continued, "on the very threshold of audibility, you can still hear LeBron's voice repeating, 'This fall, I am going to take my talents to South Beach.'"
As of press time, nobody outside the Cleveland area had seen the mural once since it was originally taken down last Sunday.
|Very Superstitious? The Facts Behind the Fables||
Jul 17th, 2010 3:41:52 am - Subscribe
|I was at work a few years ago when a coworker walking by my desk let out a terrified squeal. “Your purse is on the floor! Don’t you know that’s bad luck?” Apparently, she was referring to a superstition which holds that to place your purse or wallet on the floor is to invite money troubles. I had never heard of this old wives’ tale and didn’t lend it much credibility, but on my way home, I did notice my lifelong habit of avoiding sidewalk cracks, surely a leftover from a youthful urge to protect my mother’s spinal health.
Superstitions ascribe supernatural origins to things that humans don’t understand, and they occur across the world. Early humans had a lot that they didn’t understand, but modern people are much more enlightened. Superstitions about bad luck feel like the kind of things we tell gullible children, so why do I still see people knocking on wood, throwing salt over their shoulders, and refusing to walk under ladders? Exactly where do these strange superstitions come from, and do any have even the tiniest basis in reality?
Don’t Spill the Salt!
Salt is one of our most ancient and versatile foodstuffs, used for preserving food as well as flavoring it. For most of history, it was incredibly valuable, too, sometimes even used as currency. Spilling such a precious commodity was akin to dumping the thirty-year-old Scotch down the drain. For anyone who was careless enough to waste salt, throwing a pinch over the left shoulder was said to keep the devil away, since he was sure to be following you after such a grievous offence.
Walking Under Ladders Brings Bad Luck
This superstition has its roots in religion. Some Christians believe that any object with three points—like a ladder leaning against a house—represents the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Early Christians believed that to destroy or subvert a three-pointed object (like by walking through it) one was expressing disbelief in the Trinity, and would therefore probably go to Hell. As religious conviction softened, the promise of eternal damnation was relaxed to merely the threat of bad luck. I admit to following the rule against walking under ladders, but for a more practical purpose—I don’t care for things dropping on my head, as is wont to happen when people are working above.
Un-Lucky Number Thirteen
Plenty of otherwise rational people are loath to schedule important events on the thirteenth of the month, and many buildings and towns don’t even include a thirteenth floor or thirteenth street, because so many people believe the number to be cursed. The origins of this superstition are factually tenuous, and there are many theories about how it came about. Christian theology teaches that Judas was the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper, making him unlucky. Norse mythology states that the god Loki, who was the thirteenth guest at a banquet, killed the hero, Balder. Not to mention the fact that several serial killers have thirteen letters in their name, like Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer. Fear of the number thirteen even has its own name, triskaidekaphobia, and many sufferers refuse to be the thirteenth guest at a party, or to sit in row thirteen on an airplane for fear that some terrible fate will befall them. In reality, there’s no credible evidence to suggest anything sinister about any particular number, and in some cultures, the number thirteen is actually considered quite lucky.
Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play”
Many actors refuse to say the name Macbeth, especially when they’re inside a theater. The play is said to be cursed, and is usually referred to as simply, “The Scottish Play.” Some accounts say that productions of Macbeth have been plagued by an unusually high number of accidents, injuries, and deaths on- and offstage, perhaps because the play itself is unusually ripe with fights, weapons, battles, and opportunities for things to go wrong. Since the play features three witches, some origin stories for the superstition say that the lines uttered by the witches are real curses, that real witches were offended by the play and cursed it, or that Shakespeare’s original prop master stole items from a real witches’ coven. The most likely explanation is that Macbeth, being one of the English language’s most enduring pieces of drama, is often put on by theaters trying to stave off bankruptcy, and the play eventually got a reputation as foreshadowing a theater’s demise.
All cultures offer some sort of blessing after a person sneezes. While the origins of the benedictions are muddled, it seems certain that primitive people thought that a person’s soul could leave the body through the nose, and asking for God’s protection was a way to prevent its escape. Romans, however, believed that sneezing expelled demons, and witnesses to a sneeze offered congratulations and support. During the sixth century, there was a plague raging, and the populace thought that sneezing was a symptom of impending death. Pope Gregory pronounced that the official response to a sneeze would be “God bless you,” which was thought to invoke divine protection for both the sneezer and the sneezed-upon.
Even though we know that minor actions like opening an umbrella in the house have no bearing on our personal wellbeing, it’s hard to stop minding these deeply ingrained superstitions. For better or worse, they’ve become a part of our culture, even though nobody ever talks about the many serial killers without thirteen letters in their name, or the many people who walked under a latter and didn’t die. Even I lived for a year on the thirteenth floor of an apartment building and lived to tell the tale. So go ahead—put your hat on the bed, pick up a penny when it’s tails-up, or break a mirror. And if you’re ever in a production of Macbeth, break a leg.
|Why Businesses Should Worry About Water||
Jul 17th, 2010 3:39:22 am - Subscribe
|Imagine this: If all the water in the world were somehow inside a water cooler, like the kind at your office, the amount of fresh, drinkable water would be one tablespoon.
And Americans are the world’s biggest water consumers, chugging, drinking, washing, flushing and irrigating without a second thought until most of us have used about 150 gallons a day each.
Compare that to the British who consume only 40 gallons a day, to the Chinese who average just 22 gallons a day, or to Kenyans, who scratch out a dry existence on less than 13 gallons a day.
In our soon-to-be-released Green Living Pulse study, we found that Americans’ engagement with water concerns actually fell a little bit from last year. About the same number of Americans say they’re concerned about the fresh water supply (69 percent), but fewer said they feel a sense of personal responsibility (64 percent, down from 75 percent).
This is serious point of concern. Water supplies are increasingly under pressure -- not only for drinking water, but also for generating power. We also use lots of water to power hydro-electric dams like Hoover Dam in Nevada. Lake Mead and Hoover Dam supply power to 2 million homes and businesses in Nevada, Arizona and California -- but Lake Mead is drying up. There’s a ring of mineral residue that’s 130 feet high all around the lake. Several scientists say there’s a good chance that Lake Mead will become a “mud pool” in the next dozen years or so if current trends continue.
Since 1998, the lake has lost more than half its water, more than 5.6 trillion gallons or enough to provide water for the entire country for about six months. The minimum water elevation needed to operate the generators is 1050 feet. As of last week, the water elevation level was 1088 feet, only 38 feet above the critical level.
Water conservation efforts aren’t making a big enough dent, perhaps because some cities in rain-scarce regions have some of the lowest residential water rates and the highest levels of water use. There’s no financial imperative. According to a recent study by Circle of Blue, a water news organization, a family of four using 400 gallons a day (100 gallons per person) will only pay $34.29 in Phoenix, but that number almost doubles to $65.47 in Boston. By the way, Boston gets about 10 times the amount of rain as Phoenix.
Tellingly, Bostonians used the least amount of water among major cities in the survey – only 41 gallons daily per person – compared with Fresno, California, residents who used the most – 211 gallons daily per person.
That’s because of the sad reality that declines in water consumption lead to higher rates -- the same phenomenon being felt across the country by power companies with energy efficiency programs -- has now spread to water utilities.
So what’s the true price of water?
Government subsidies have kept prices artificially low for decades but now a creaky, leaky infrastructure needs updating to the tune of $335 billion, according to the EPA.
Where’s that money going to come from? That’s a question for the budget hawks and politicians.
What can we do about this as marketers? This is an opportunity to get out ahead of consumers on this issue and take the lead. Manufacturers can reduce water usage in operations, produce goods that require less water and take water-wasting products off the shelves.
There’s an opportunity to invoke a philosophy of “paternalistic libertarianism” as author and behavioral economist Richard Thaler calls it, and make the better choice the default choice. Another way to approach this situation is to follow the proverbial carrot and stick strategy -- offer rebates on water-saving devices and higher prices for using high amounts of water.
Marketers can also get ahead of this issue and calculate the embedded water in their products and provide interested consumers with a transparent look at their water footprints. As more national retailers adopt environmental scorecards, this information will likely become more important to stay in the fight for shelf space.
If you’re not worried about water, maybe it’s time to start.
|The State of Windows 7 Gaming||
Jul 17th, 2010 3:35:03 am - Subscribe
|Don't believe what you've heard—the state of Windows gaming is still strong.
Nine months after Windows 7 hit the market, Microsoft has rehabilitated its reputation on desktop PCs. The company has effectively banished memories of Vista's poor performance. Still, PC game sales have been off this year, sometimes by more than a few percentage points, depending on the study.
It's tempting to mount a passionate defense of PC games. Others are already predicting a comeback, though whether or not PC gaming really left in the first place is an open question.
Regardless, we want to offer a clearheaded look at some of the issues affecting Windows 7 gaming in mid-2010. Some issues transcend the PC; for example, a big part of the problem is the increasing amount of cash it takes to develop a top-notch game—PC, console, or otherwise. The mixed reception of a few high-profile titles like Spore and F.E.A.R. 2 can easily put the fear in game industry executives hesitant to commit $15 million to anything less than a "sure thing."
Probably now more than ever, AAA titles have an easier time receiving funding if they're part of an existing franchise, be it yet another sequel to a proven series or a tie-in to an upcoming movie. Thankfully, independent developer studios are picking up the slack wherever necessary, and are creating innovative, original IPs like Machinarium, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, and Torchlight, all of which are just as much fun to play as $50 titles.
Still, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic—not the least of which is killer franchises like Mass Effect and BioShock, which we certainly want sequels for. Let's go through some of the latest hardware and software developments, with a quick survey of some of the best games and platforms they're available on. We'll also offer some thoughts on digital distribution and the current state of the gaming experience on PCs.
It turns out that our hobby has matured in some ways over the past few years—and moved in a few surprising directions.
|Van Gogh in Paris (1886–1888)||
Jul 17th, 2010 3:07:07 am - Subscribe
|Van Gogh in Paris in March 1886 in the studio of Fernand Corman, where he studied together an apartment in the Rue de Laval Theo in Montmartre. In June, they have to climb a higher level at 54 rue Lepic. Since there is no need to communicate by letters, less is about the time of Van Gogh in Paris known as sooner or later in life. He painted several scenes of Paris street in Montmartre and other places, such as bridges over the Seine at Asnieres (1887). During his stay in Paris, with Japanese ukiyo-e prints in the woods met. His interest in this work, the dates of your stay in Antwerp in 1885, when used to decorate the walls of his study. He has collected hundreds of specimens, and several of his paintings in the background can be seen. In his portrait of 1887 shows Tanguy already exposed several on the wall behind the character. shown in the courtesan or Oiran (after iron Kesai) 91 887), Van Gogh reproduction of an illustration on the cover of Paris, then expanded in his painting. Plum Blossom (after Hiroshige) 1888 is another good example of Van Gogh's admiration for Japanese prints he collected. Your version is a bit more courage than the original.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Portrait of Vincent van Gogh (1887), drawing with pastels, Van Gogh MuseumFor months worked for Van Gogh in Corman, where he attended the circle of Anglo-Australian artist John Peter Russell, and met their Bernard Miles and Louis Anquetin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who created a portrait of Van Gogh in pastel shades. The group met in the paint store run by Julien Pre Tanguy, who was seen at this time the only place to the works of Paul Czanne. It would be easy access to all the works of Impressionism in Paris to have time. In 1886, two exhibitions of art, were fantastic. In these shows Neo-Impressionism their first appearanceworks Georges Seurat and Paul Signac were the talk of the town. Although accustomed to Theo, a stock of Impressionist paintings in his gallery Montmarteby Boulevard artists such as Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas, Camille PissarroVincent apparently had difficulties to recognize the evolution as an artist and see the image of the region. Conflicts have arisen, and the end of 1886 was Theo shared life with Vincent almost unbearable. In the spring of 1887 had peace. He then moved to Asnires There he met Signac. With his friend Emile Bernard, who lived with his parents in Asnires, took elements of pointillism, where many small dots are applied to the canvas to give an optical mixture of colors, from a distance. The theory behind this style focuses on the value of complementarity colorsincluding orangewhich a vibrant blue and contrasts, and support one another when compared. In November 1887, Theo and Vincent met and befriended Paul Gauguin, who had just arrived in Paris. Towards the end of the year, Van Gogh has organized an exhibition of paintings by himself, Bernard, Anquetin and, probably, Toulouse-Lautrec in Montmartre in the lodge restaurant. It Anquetin Bernard and sold his first oil painting, Van Gogh and Gauguin soon left the division of labor in Pont-Aven. Discussions about art, artists, and social situations in this show started continued and expanded to include visitors at the fair, that Lucien Pissarro and his son, Signac and Seurat.
Finally, in February 1888, tired of living in Paris, was after he painted over 200 paintings during his two years in the city. hours before his departure with Theo, he paid his first and only visit to Seurat in his studio.