Arts / Culture

Strange Culture

Eduardo Kac's "GFP Bunny"Eduardo Kac's "GFP Bunny"
Slate magazine has an online slide show this week about "bio art" — in which people use genetic manipulation to insert coded messages into DNA, or produce a transgenic rabbit using a gene derived from a jellyfish that makes it glow fluorescent green.

I was a little disappointed, though, that Slate failed to mention the work of Steve Kurtz, a bio artist whose work goes further than most in provoking debate about the ethical issues involved with genetic engineering — so far, in fact, that he is currently awaiting trial on charges that could land him in prison for 20 years.

Hogging the Picture

The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company has arranged a deal with the film school at the University of California-Santa Barbara that recruits students as cheap labor to make Harley ads in the form of "short sponsored videos for online media or for downloading to other digital media platforms such as cell phones, iPods, and PDAs." Under the terms of the "partnership," students submit proposals to Harley-Davidson, describing the type of video they plan to make. If approved, the company pays a stipend of up to $1,200 for each proposal, and a prize of $5,000 to the winner.


Latest Version of Pay for Play: Bucks for Blogs

Beware the blog that gushes about a product, movie, or anything you might consider purchasing. There's a chance that the blogger is on the payroll of "new marketing middlemen such as PayPerPost Inc. that connect advertisers with mom-and-pop webmasters." PayPerPost alone pays 15,500 bloggers for inserting their clients into blog postings.


Smithsonian-Showtime Contract Stymies Filmmakers

The Smithsonian Institution is defending a long-term multimillion dollar contract that limits access to some filmmakers in favor of Showtime Networks, a CBS affiliate. The scale of the contract with Showtime enables "an exponential growth in filming projects," Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small told the Government Accountability Office (GAO).


Google Books vs. Open Culture

Concerned at the implications of Google's attempt to build an online digital library, a splinter group called the Open Content Alliance has launched a not-for-profit effort to scan the collections of major libraries and make them available online. "You are talking about the fruits of our civilization and culture.


What Would the Other George Do? An Interview with the Author of "Saving General Washington"

Saving General Washington coverI spoke with author J.R. Norton in June of this year about his book, Saving General Washington: The Right Wing Assault on America's Founding Principles. The following excerpts are from an interview on "A Public Affair" on WORT (89.9 FM), community radio in Madison, WI, and from a follow up in-person interview.

JSP: Why do George Washington and the rest of the Founding Fathers need to be saved?

J.R. Norton: Well, it's a bit of metaphor. It's in part aimed at rehabilitating and reintroducing these founding figures of American history, but on a broader level, on a more important level, it's about reintroducing the values that these guys stood for. Certainly over the last five or six years, I think we've really lost sight of those virtues.

Do I Smell Cigarette Ads on YouTube?

Simon Chapman, Ph.D., a global authority on tobacco marketing at the University of Sydney, Australia School of Public Health, has accused cigarette manufacturers of carrying on a below-the-radar advertising campaign by flooding the Internet web site You Tube with thousands of videos showing sexy, smoking teens. Chapman notes that the vast majority of clips show young women partying, talking or assuming seductive poses while smoking.



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