Monthly Archives: June 2003

Angelheaded Hipsters

Steven at Poliblogger asks:

Am I Anti-Hip, or What?
I just heard a story about “Hipsters” on NPR, and surfed over to this: NPR : ‘The Hipster Handbook‘. I am pretty sure that I have heard the term before, but must confess as to knowing almost nothing about this particular trend.

I checked out the NPR report and the ‘hipster’ material, quiz, etc., and came to the same conclusion as Steven. I’m not one of these either.

And, I don’t think any of the folks that might use this book to define themselves are hipsters either. At least not as I use the word which, like many words, has changed its meaning over time. Here are some examples1:

By 1931 hep was occasionally being pronounced hip. This led to calling hep girls hip chicks and calling hepsters (jive dancers and fans) hipsters by the late 1930s.

By 1945 hip had completely replaced hep in informed circles, cat had come to mean any aware person (by the 1950s it was to mean any person at all), and hipster was beginning to mean a devotee of the new “progressive jazz” from the West Coast.

During the decade of 1945-55 hipster drifted away from its jazz meaning and was applied to any hip or cool youth.

By 1957 the true beats had followers, a growing number of hipsters who, that year, were first called hippies, younger versions of the beats

My understanding and usage of the word is rooted in the beatnik era meaning and if todays ‘hipsters’ are going to earn their place in the word’s lineage they will have to make a stronger effort. Though, ‘cool youth’ is pretty open ended. From the hipster himself, Alan Ginsberg, we read:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

This seems to set the bar high though there are plenty of dynamics in today’s world and particularly American culture that may ignite this flame.

And for a story of an interesting joining of hipsterism and neoconservatism check out this 1998 Paul Berman essay from Slate:

America’s counterculture and America’s neoconservatism, you might suppose, have nothing in common, except their war against one another. But they have in common the Columbia Review from the 1940s. They have in common a poem, whichever of the two it is, by the nearly inconceivable collaborative team of Norman Podhoretz and Allen Ginsberg. The counterculture and neoconservatism only seem to be opposites. They are actually variations on the same Columbia College hipster instinct for Old Testament windy curse-hurling, 1940s-style.

Berman, in a sidebar anecdote, says:

But his behavior matched his whim. He was entirely himself. No one was ever more natural. There were never any secrets with Allen Ginsberg–none that bore on his inner personality, anyway.

Which tells us more about being a hipster then any handbook could manage.
PS: Quizzilla has a slightly different version of the hipster quiz.

1Also see Stuart Berg Flexner and Anne H. Soukhanov, Speaking Freely: A Guided Tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley (New York: Oxford, 1997), pages 221-0

This is Too Much

Take a look at this photo:
(courtesy of Yahoo) and read this article and tell me whether you think this just might be going a bit too far???!! I do.

Via Silflay Hraka who poses this astute question:

More importantly, given that the machines are used to detect plastic, how long before people start using plastic tape to leave messages to the screeners on their torso?

Thinking about this some more, the backscatter image is a pretty good depiction of Susan Hallowell, director of the Transportation Security Administration’s security laboratory (image from above linked CNN article):

Update (5/23/07): Fixed link to the images; made them embedded instead of popups and and modified the text slightly to reflect this. Also note that the CNN link is broken. Here is a link to an alternate story CBS from the same time.

It’s still Stealing

The Net Pirate says

I know what I am doing is illegal, but I feel it is no more illegal or threatening to the music industry, than my videotaping of programmes from TV is threatening to broadcasters.

You know, though, it is illegal and it is theft. Perhaps if you stuck with copying mix tapes onto your CD from the radio you could say that you are analogous to the timeshifting folks do with vidotaped tv programs (which is not illegal).

This person is right that the industry is changing, that the recording industry wants to maintain control, etc. And, yes, the industry needs to come up with new models to sell the product. Still, I can’t quite figure out any reason why he shouldn’t be fined or go to jail for theft.

Oh, many performers approve the recording and trading of their live performances. This is legal. What the pirate is doing is not no matter how broken the distribution model.

On a related note, the RIAA, better get busy making the changes to their business model. There are some things on the horizon that will make their lives even more interesting:

An international team set new Internet2 Land Speed Records using next generation Internet Protocols (IPv6) by achieving 983 megabits-per-second with a single IPv6 stream for more than an hour across a distance of 7,067 kilometers (more than 4,000 miles) from Geneva, Switzerland to Chicago, Ill. The record is comparative to transferring the equivalent of approximately one feature-length DVD-quality movie every 36 seconds, or more than 3,500 times faster than the typical home broadband connection.

36 seconds to download a movie!! Wahooooo!! Well, almost. It will be a while before many of us get true broadband at our homes (and I certainly don’t consider the definition used above, 280 Kilobits-per-second, to be broadband).

Foreign Investment in US Declines

The Progressive Policy Institute (related to New Democrats Online) sends out interesting stuff (irrespective of their politics) from time to time.

Their most recent Newsletter provides the following data on foreign investment in the US and worldwide(in billions):

US World Wide
2000 $314 $1500
2001 $144 ?
2002 $30 $530

It is not a surprise that both figures have declined. But note that foreign investment in the US has declined from about 20% to less then 6% of the world wide total. Here are PPI’s suggested reasons:

(1) slow global growth and thus a smaller global FDI

(2) weak technology investment levels;

(3) falling confidence in long-term U.S. growth prospects, as perceptions of terrorist threats grow and structural budget deficits re-emerge after recent tax bills; and

(4) higher dollar values relative to the euro in 2001 and 2002, raising the price of acquisitions here.

You might come up with one or two more on your own.