12 January 2012

Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory

Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory (This American Life, 6 January 2012)

Mike Daisey was a self-described "worshipper in the cult of Mac." Then he saw some photos from a new iPhone, taken by workers at the factory where it was made. Mike wondered: Who makes all my crap? He traveled to China to find out.
Link: Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory

10 January 2012

Shit Christians Say To Jews (Youtube)

Thomas Aquinas Music Video (Youtube)

The stunning trio of Bambi, Vicki, and Angelica sing the popular Bananarama tune with lyrics about the great philosopher Thomas Aquinas. Vicki is the cool one. Angelica is the smart one. Bambi is blonde.

Buying the Body of Christ

Buying the Body of Christ, by Rowan Moore Gerety (Killing The Buddha, 3 January 2012)

Nineteen clicks of the mouse, the electronic brandishing of a credit card, thirteen dollars of my savings. A box of communion wafers was on its way to my apartment. Five days later, it arrived: five hundred whole-wheat discs emblazoned with a cross, packed like bags of Lay’s into two puffed plastic sacks. The size of a half-dollar, an eighth of an inch thick. My roommate, a lapsed but confirmed Catholic, couldn’t get enough of them, inhaling one after the other as if to bring some junk-food jingle to life. Analogies to Styrofoam notwithstanding, they are a low-fat snack. (In Quebec, they have even been marketed that way; prior to consecration, the host is only bread.) I watched him toss the wafers back like popcorn—the unrealized body of Christ, purchased on the Internet.

The wafers I bought were manufactured by the Cavanagh Company of Greenville, Rhode Island, which now makes 80 percent of the “altar breads” consumed in the US. The automation in Cavanagh’s facility is on par with that of Pepperidge Farm or Frito-Lay: they use custom-converted versions of the wafer ovens that turn out cream-filled vanilla wafers, and bake according to a patent-protected process that gives their wafers a sealed edge—to avoid crumbs. Cavanagh’s engraving plates stamp crosses and Christian lambs in their dough, while other companies use the same equipment to emboss their wheaten products with trademarks and brand-unique tessellations. Their batter is tested with an electronic viscometer. Their flour blend is a trade secret.
Link: Buying the Body of Christ

03 January 2012

How Luther Went Viral

Social Media in the 16th Century: How Luther Went Viral (The Economist, 17 December 2011)

It is a familiar-sounding tale: after decades of simmering discontent a new form of media gives opponents of an authoritarian regime a way to express their views, register their solidarity and co-ordinate their actions. The protesters’ message spreads virally through social networks, making it impossible to suppress and highlighting the extent of public support for revolution. The combination of improved publishing technology and social networks is a catalyst for social change where previous efforts had failed.

That’s what happened in the Arab spring. It’s also what happened during the Reformation, nearly 500 years ago, when Martin Luther and his allies took the new media of their day—pamphlets, ballads and woodcuts—and circulated them through social networks to promote their message of religious reform.

Scholars have long debated the relative importance of printed media, oral transmission and images in rallying popular support for the Reformation. Some have championed the central role of printing, a relatively new technology at the time. Opponents of this view emphasise the importance of preaching and other forms of oral transmission. More recently historians have highlighted the role of media as a means of social signalling and co-ordinating public opinion in the Reformation.

Now the internet offers a new perspective on this long-running debate, namely that the important factor was not the printing press itself (which had been around since the 1450s), but the wider system of media sharing along social networks—what is called “social media” today. Luther, like the Arab revolutionaries, grasped the dynamics of this new media environment very quickly, and saw how it could spread his message.
Link: Social Media in the 16th Century: How Luther Went Viral