Saturday, February 28, 2009

Outrageous Street Art Videos

European Street Art

From Poland, I'm guessing. Maybe the Czech Republic. You tell me. But do click on the image and check out the larger size. Crazy tagged everything. (source)

Friday, February 27, 2009


If you are fortunate enough to receive your TV signal from satellite, either Direct TV or DISH, you have access to the coolest TV network in history. The best source of international news, LINK TV - Television Without Borders, also features eye-opening documentaries, world music videos; and, feature films.

The Author discovered many of the worldbeat acts highlighted in this blog on LINK TV. Musicians like Andrea Echeverri and Aterciopelados; Ojos Negros; Rokia Traore; Lila Downs; Habib Koite; Sa DingDing and Manu Chau.

Then there's the news. LINK TV broadcasts Aljazeera's "Witness" series; European news (Journal) from Deutsche Welle; Amy Goodman's Democracy Now, Eye on Tibet, and the network's own Mosaic - International News from the Middle East. Mosaic is a favorite, a very important news program that is entirely unique in that it offers news reports from independent and state-owned TV news stations around the Middle East. To best understand the viewpoints of all the parties involved in that volatile region, it is necessary to step out of the box and away from one's comfort-zone to watch and listen to the news from all sources. More data is a good thing.

We make a regular contribution to the user-supported network. Please consider joining us. LINK TV's celebrity sponsors include Danny Glover, Charlize Theron, Harry Belefonte, Taj Majal, Willy Nelson, Angelique Kidjo, and my friend Gina Smith.

Just last night, LINK TV ran one of their great foreign feature films. I was spellbound. The Algerian, Bent Keltoum (Keltoun's Daughter), was directed by Mehdi Charef.
Rallia, a young Swiss woman, returns home to her birthplace in Algeria hoping to find her mother, Keltoum. She meets a weathered old man who she learns is her grandfather (Brahim Ben Salah), who warmly welcomes her and tells her that her mother works far away in a luxury resort, but that she returns home each Friday. Rallia also meets her aunt Nedjma (Baya Belal) who is mentally challenged and ostracized by the community. Waiting for her mother to return, Rallia tries to participate in the family’s daily life and encounters the hardships of the desert. Finally, she decides she can no longer wait, and sets out on a trek into the desert with Nedjma to find her mother.
There's a list of almost 40 international films featured on LINK TV for sale at Amazon, here. If you get your TV via YouTube, LINK TV has a channel. So you can watch worldbeat vids or the news of the day from your PC, MAC or iPhone. LINK TV Twitter Link.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

J-Pop Redux

Over two years ago, The Author posted this blog's first note about J-Pop. That was way fun. The Japanese popular culture scene is rich and storied. Think Harajuku (Wiki Commons image: Harajuku girl) and Fresh Fruits.

That first post covered some of the icons of J-Pop, and a personal favorite, Shiina Ringo. Ringo (pictured right), often described as born sick and needing immediate surgery, is a unique talent in J-Pop.

Shiina is a rebel who has always gone her own way. And judging from the length of her Wikipedia entry, she's into details. I'm only in the mood for this kind of stuff on occasion, but when the urge hits, the music of Shiina Ringo is often where I go. Check out these videos. The first is pretty standard rock, the second definitely isn't.

Dirtiest Hotels in the US

Trip Adviser has compiled its annual list of the ten dirtiest hotels in the U.S. (SOURCE). The Author passes this information along to highlight hotel rooms from hell so Pop Impulse readers can avoid the worst of the worst. A common problem: the dreaded Bed Bugs, which have created a scourge in even the toniest of NY City hostelries. And watch out for those dirty carpets, comforters and bed covers. Yikes! Without further ado, the list:

* 1.Hotel Carter, New York City, New York
* 2.Continental Bayside Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida
* 3.New York Inn, New York City, New York
* 4.Eden Roc Motel, Wildwood, New Jersey
* 5.Days Inn Cleveland Airport, Brook Park, Ohio
* 6.Days Inn Airport / Stadium Tampa, Tampa, Florida
* 7.Travelodge Bangor, Bangor, Maine
* 8.Velda Rose Resort Hotel, Hot Springs, Arkansas
* 9.Ramada Plaza Hotel JFK International Airport, Jamaica, New York
* 10.Days Inn & Suites Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gypsy Art & Music

One of The Author's first posts was about Gypsy music. I've followed-up on this obsession with Roma culture, dance and music with this post about the fabulous Gypsy-themed movies by Tony Gatlif. A post last Spring covers Spain's Seville Spring Fair, the Gitano's biggest party of the year. Go if you get a chance. Highly recommended.

Today, a post about Gypsy art - since Pop Impulse has already covered Romani culture and music. I've included a great slide show using a terrific new Widget that was culled from the ArteGitano (Literally: Gypsy Art) blog. Enjoy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Republican Senator Calls for Reassessing Cuban Embargo

Today, senior Republican senator Richard Lugar (pictured) called for reassessing the long-term U.S. Cuban Embargo policy. Yes! This policy has not worked, as the longevity of the Cuban regime attests. In retrospect, it has only served to placate a nasty, vocal minority of expat Cubans in Miami and to cause most of the inhabitants of this neighboring island grief. A truly bad idea, then and now. So props to Senator Lugar, ever one to express his independence, for pointing out that fact. The Author called in a previous post for an immediate end to the embargo.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Iceland Women to Lead Nation's Recovery

Iceland, a land of Vikings and majestic Nordic beauty, has the unfortunate honor of being the first country to go completely bankrupt as a result of the current global economic crisis. (Wikipedia Iceland Stub).
Iceland’s economy capsized in October after its biggest banks couldn’t finance short-term debt, crippling the krona and forcing Iceland to seek an emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund. (source).
So naturally, the country's government has resigned and a new prime minister has taken the reins of power. She is quite a woman, and she's not alone. While many are fleeing the state for jobs abroad, Icelandic women are organizing - and they're planning to lead the country out of depression and into recovery with a new model that reflects feminist concerns, perspectives and priorities. Wow. I'm impressed. Read The Guardian's article on the welcome development.

The article quotes Halla Tómasdóttir, who said:

“We have five core feminine values. First, risk awareness: we will not invest in things we don't understand. Second, profit with principles - we like a wider definition so it is not just economic profit, but a positive social and environmental impact. Third, emotional capital. When we invest, we do an emotional due diligence - or check on the company - we look at the people, at whether the corporate culture is an asset or a liability. Fourth, straight talking. We believe the language of finance should be accessible, and not part of the alienating nature of banking culture. Fifth, independence. We would like to see women increasingly financially independent, because with that comes the greatest freedom to be who you want to be, but also unbiased advice."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Health Notes - Breakthroughs & Threats

From time-to-time, The Author posts a note about health-related issues. Some of these developments have come in the last few months, and are just now making it to the pages of Pop Impulse.

The BBC reports on a breakthrough discovery in Cancer research that provides new and substantial insight into the way that cells protect themselves from tumors, and the mechanisms that turn-off and turn-on that protection. Just the kind of breakthrough that will drive new diagnostic and treatment options for Cancer patients.

The Guardian reports on a simple, 2-minute checklist that cuts surgery deaths by a whopping 40 percent. That's right. Now getting surgical teams to implement the checklist is another subject and could take years in spite of the hefty payoff.

News of a first-generation Malaria vaccine from Glaxo has raised some excitement and expectation levels, even though it only promises a 40-to-50 percent reduction in cases. Malaria is a significant global challenge that takes countless lives annually. The disease places heavy burdens on families, communities and regions around the world.

Last week, evidence emerged that the many victims of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic actually died from Strep infections and not the flu. After seeing pictures of thousands of flu patients crammed in public facilities like courthouses and train stations with no visible running water or sanitation present, it is easy to image that a virulent version of Streptococcus could spread through the weakened population like wildfire. For all the attention the the Avian Flu, H5N1, Ebola and Marburg viruses get, The Author has always worried that the real threat comes from drug resistant versions of the "big three:" Strep, Staph and M. tuberculosis.

Finally, the Los Angeles Times puts mutant bugs and hospital-borne infections in frightening perspective, reporting that superbugs have become a significant problem. This is an alarming article. A must-read for all who stay informed on public health issues.

Technorati Tags: Health, Cancer, Flu

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pop Impulse Blogroll

The Author spends an inordinate amount of time surfing through the Blogosphere, landing at random blogs driven by Google's Blogger Play widget, following links, chasing down Twitter referrals and checking out the blogrolls of my favorite Netizens. I'm pretty sure that its risen to the level of an addiction, but it's a sweet one. The siren song; at least for the obsessively, incurably curious, is irresistible.

A number of these blogs are featured on my own personal blogroll, located in the right-hand sidebar. If you scroll down far enough, you'll find it. This post focuses on a few blogs of note.

First, and a daily read for this blogger, is Boing Boing. In all but political years when Daily Kos tops the charts, Boing Boing is the center of the Blogsophere. A truly wonderful compendium of all things new and cool, the site is anchored by some of the most respected mavens in the business including Sci-Fi author and Renaissance man Corey Doctorow and former Wired Magazine editor Mark Frauenfelder. Frauenfelder, also a comic book illustrator, author and publisher is a personal favorite. I've just discovered Dinasours & Robots, a blog he co-authors about cool and unique objects. His eye for authenticity, folk art, steam punk and irony in general make him a fascinating reporter. His passions appear to mimic mine in a lot of areas, and he finds way cool stuff that I could never uncover. We corresponded during the period of time that I was building a web presence and public visibility for the Matinee at the Bijou project. I found him to be a regular guy who made communication easy and enjoyable.

I also enjoy the musings, opinions and discoveries of Gina Smith - an long-time colleague who I posted about in a previous article. I follow both Mark and Gina on Twitter, which gets me into their heads on an even deeper level. Check out the Pop Impulse Blogroll for more great reads.

Technorati Tags: Blogs, Gina Smith, Boing Boing

Monday, February 9, 2009

Obama to Congress: Pass the Stimulus

Echoing the overwhelming will of the American people expressed so clearly in the November general election, President Obama tonight asked Congress to get busy and pass the much-needed stimulus bill.

The Author was very impressed with the content and substance the president's first press conference earlier this evening. Finally, a president who clearly understands the problems we face and the range of solutions that we need to bring to bear on these challenges. Now if the clueless Republican opposition would stop political posturing, end their obstructionism and put America back to work.

Of special note, was the president's unequivocal placement of blame for the economic crisis and the budget deficit directly at the feet of his predecessor George Bush and his Republican party cronies. Please, read the post immediately below to get an understanding of how and when this crisis arose. And if you know a banker or a diehard Republican, maybe its time to confront those individuals for their role and that of their failed policies in our current pain. Bipartisanship, you say? Bah. Not in this lifetime. If you or your family is feeling stressed out by the economy, burdened by the pain of unemployment and a loss of confidence and hope, go ahead and blame the Republicans and their banker friends. Don't be shy. You're in good company.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Populist Revot Erupts

We may not know much, but like the NY Times said in an editorial today: "...we do know that the system has been fixed for too long." True Dat. Fixed by the very rich oligarchs, and yes, America has its oligarchs in case you haven't noticed. Fixed by the banks, may they rot in hell for their fiendish and greedy maneuvering. Fixed by eight years of a Republican administration that not only looked the other way, but actively participated in gutting the regulatory system designed to prevent just such a meltdown. Shame. Anger. Revolt.

It's no wonder that a significant Populist revolt is already underway. Politicians and financiers, watch out! The depth, length and fury of the blowback will shock and astound. As well it should. Regression to the mean in this case is going to be a very painful exercise.

And as for not seeing this coming, as many of the pundits and so-called experts now plead, The Author was sounding the alarm on this site in multiple posts as early as 2007 - with this post about predatory business practices. A follow-up post askes: Is the US becomming a third-world nation? Prescient, don't you think? A third post on the subject in 2007 sounds the alarm about impending failures in the banking system. And a final post warns: Don't blame consumers for the sub-prime meltdown. This is in 2007!

In 2008, as the crisis unfolded, Pop Impulse stayed ahead of the main-stream-media and pundits with a series of posts on the deteriorating economy. A first-of-the-year post notes the market meltdown underway at the time. A second post notes that Fed Chair Ben Bernanke "bet the farm" with his first intervention. A February, 2008 post places the blame directly on corporate greed. Ya think? The Author worried in a follow-up post that the financial crisis would bankrupt cities. Well, that's definitely happening now. In June, this blog reported that "consumers were drowning." And by July, The Author was advising readers with big bank accounts pay attention.

Okay, so here's the question? Why the fu*k did the brainiacs in power miss this impending "perfect storm?" And while we're at it, who is benefiting from the carnage?
Technorati Tags: Economy, Banking, Finance

Saturday, February 7, 2009

VentureOne Makes 3 Wheels Look Good

I'm starting to like some of these new vehicles, as previous posts will record. Here's what had to say about this sleek, three-wheeled wonder.

What do you get when you combine the exhilaration of riding a fast motorcycle, the safety and comfort of a commuter car, and the fuel efficiency of advanced automotive technologies? The VentureOne—a two-passenger, three-wheeled, 100-mpg plug-in series hybrid from Venture Vehicles in Los Angeles.

Read the rest of the hybridcars post and watch their video here.

Technorati Tags: Green Vehicles, Electric, Venture One

Friday, February 6, 2009

Favelados - In Animated Form

Brazil's Favelas are well-known. The hillside shanty-towns; marked by narrow, winding paths and stone-buttressed walls are home to millions of Brazil's poor and dispossessed. They are also, like most impacted ghettos, very violent. Focused on youth culture, because you either get out or die young, the Favelas became famous following popular indy movies like "Favela Rising," "City of God," and "Elite Squad," which was a very recent winner at the Berlin Film Festival. Favelados are the residents of Favelas. In any case, I think you'll enjoy the animated video below. It's quite a story.

Technorati Tags: Brazil, Favela, Film

Thursday, February 5, 2009

TED Conferences Wraps With 2009 Awards

The most awesome annual gathering of activist brainiacs, social entrepreneurs and technology geeks is the TED Conference. The event is known for its TED Talks, where featured geniuses present their best stuff in front of audiences of adoring attendees. This is definitely the polar opposite of "dumb-and-dumber." And it is so gratifying to see mental labor, art and music celebrated in this manner at this forum. After years of anti-intellectual bullshit and hordes of nasty illiterates at our heels, this stuff is druid fluid, thick Meade for the mind. Soulfood.

The best videos The Author has watched are the result of this effort and these conferences. Dedicated by mission to "Ideas worth spreading...," as of January 2009, talks were viewed over 90 million times by more than 15 million people, according to Wikipedia. Now that's bandwidth. You're probably already following the conference and have seen one or more TED Talk videos, but you may not yet know that the 2009 TED Award winners are Oceanographer and scientist Sylvia Earle, Jill Tarter, and, Jose Antonio Abreu. You can watch Al Gore make the awards at this site.

The post will conclude with a musical performance video from this year's conference featuring The Author's favorite Cape Breton Fiddle Player, Natalie MacMaster. Enjoy!

The Woz Joins Fusion-IO

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, has joined the team at Fusion-IO as "chief scientist." woot! Check out the report. And I can remember when storage was the most boring part of the industry with MTBF as a principal subject of conversation.

With the advent of fabric- and cloud-storage; NAS, and, the new horizons that companies like Fusion-IO bring to SSD, all of a sudden storage is sexy. With The Woz involved, the cool and interesting factor just went through the roof. Who'd have thought?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cool and Unusual Wooden Vehicles

There's just something about smooth wood. The look, the feel, and all the intangibles. And you know your riding on furniture. But before going any further, The Author owns to a bias against cutting down old-growth trees. Just don't do it. Ever again.

That said, the art of the woodworker is a visceral part of human existence - passed down through the ages and based on the most honorable of all labor, working with natural materials by hand. This post focuses on unusual wooden vehicles, including the work of Italian artist Livio De Marchi. That's him below in one of his two, floating cars designed for use in Venice.

Much of the material for this post came from the fine ArtCar blog. Thanks and credits for a pic and some fine links.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Daschle Withdraws - Kitzhaber Needs a Look

President Obama's choice to be secretary of Health & Human Services, as well as the new health care reform Czar, Tom Daschle has withdrawn after concluding that his much publicized tax problems were to big an obstacle to overcome. Though Daschle is former leader of the Senate and a man afforded infinate respect in D.C., his acceptance of a complimentary car and driver from a supporter doomed his nomination. The Author regrets this setback, as health care reform is a top priority on everybody's list. The economy simply won't recover without fundamental changes in this system.

The Obama administration has, however, a wonderful opportunity to select the perfect replacement in every way. Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, M.D. is the ideal nominee. Co-author of the Oregon Health Plan and founder of the Archimedes Movement, Kitzhaber has devoted much of his energy and career in public service to this issue. Further, his experience as the chief executive of a state gives him the necessary experience and gravitas to handle the job. Let's hope he gets it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lisbon Rocks And Fado Rules

I love Lisbon. Portugal is Europe's best kept secret and Lisbon is the gateway to the country's many treasures. My own recent visit was brief, just enough time to see the sights of Lisbon and attend performances at the city's two best-known Fado clubs.

First, a quick word about Fado - a national, musical institution in Portugal. English speakers sometimes observe that the Portuguese survive on the "three F's." Fish, Fado and Fatima. I've devoted an entire post to Fado and the new Fadistas who carry on the traditions of the country and the celebrity of Amalia Rodrigues - the queen of Fado.

Second, a few words and pictures of Lisbon. The images are my own. The city is old and charming. Set on several hillsides along the Atlantic Coast, Lisbon has always been a seaside metropolis. The city is tied to fishing, freight and commerce. Unlike cities that may be deemed more sophisticated and urbane, the population of Lisbon is immediately friendly, helpful and interested in visitors. The pace, somehow, is slower than the bustle of Madrid or Barcelona. The air is sweet and the seafood is to die for. The arts are flourishing and the music scene has something for everyone, including a vibrant alternative movement that is producing a bunch of new tunes. Destinations like Oporto in the North and the southern beach towns, with the best climates in the world, are easy to access. What's not to love?