"Dimes on Mars is a private radio station by slobek and tomaz. We specialize in news, storys and radio magazine pieces.

Friday, October 15, 2010

What does a Southern Accent Say?

Opinion topic tonight. Southern Accents and Southern Belles

The southern states in the US retain a very specific culture. In the 19th century, this region was known for its tobacco plantations and the caste system that grew up around these estates. The “new money” enjoyed a lifestyle of extravagant European imports slowed by the warm southern climate and rural pace of life. Slave labor manned the crops, while young girls went to finishing school to learn proper manners and enter society through débutante balls and cotillions. The archetype of these young girls has somehow managed to live on well after the existence of the Old South. They are known as Southern Bells and are loosely judged to be calm gentile and hospitable, with a simple mind and a charming naiveté. The idea has retained its appeal for young men still today, who frequently call to name the ideal of this almost mythical creature. Now that gigantic dresses are gone, social etiquette out the window, and courting replaced with sex, one of the only remaining traits of a would-be Southern Belle is her accent. Slow and twangy. 

The southern accent has withstood chiding and not so tacit disrespect in the intellectual circles of the North and Midwest. A sly comment here and there says that a southern accent cannot sound intelligent. One has to wonder, why? The modern south is characterized by its people: former farm hands, working-class, the brawny Scots-Irish immigrants and their penchant for fighting and rebellion. Even though great minds have come from the south and moved to the south, the reputation has been hard to shake. Perhaps great subcultures like the Nascar racing population have carried the torch.The reputation got a nice sketch in this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine. With a potpourri of ridiculous quotes, those approached for the story did not give any reason to reconsider the stereotype. Has the southern accent forever been pigeon-holed?

Weigh in.

Back to the Southern Belle, with the only thing left to identify her being her accent, what does that mean? Does it say she is less intelligent than other girls? And most importantly is that the appeal? 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Just Another Michelangelo on the Mantle

Imagine the painting that you’ve always kept on the mantle above the fireplace is suddenly found to be a rare painting by the most famous painter of all time, worth somewhere between 10 million and 300 million dollars. 

This impossibility could be the case for the Kober family in upstate New York. 

They called the painting “The Mike.” Rumor of its origin passed between family members as it changed hands with the generations. Finally in 2003 Martin Kober, newly retired and with time on his hands, decided it was high time to solve the mystery. So he set out, contacting Renaissance art scholars, auction houses, archives and even traveling to Italy to meet with museum directors. There he found Antonio Forcellino, an Italian art historian. 

Forcellino traveled to Buffalo to view the piece, assuming he would report back to his colleagues about this crazy American who thought he had a Michelangelo. 

Forcellino could not believe what he saw. The painting of Mary holding a wounded Jesus is the same moment Michelangelo depicted in the famous Pieta sculpture housed in St. Peter’s Basillica in Rome. Forcellino was dumbfounded. He says, “This painting was even more beautiful than the versions hanging in Rome and Florence.”

The art historian gives several reasons why he believes the painting to be authentic. X-ray examinations revealed that the painting had many alterations, showing that the artist changed his mind. A copy artist, obviously, would not change his mind. Secondly, there is an unfinished portion near the Madonna’s right knee. “The evidence of unfinished portions demonstrate that this painting never, never, never could be a copy of another painting,” Forcellino said. “No patron pays in the Renaissance for an unfinished copy.” 

Forcellino has just finished a book about the piece titled, “The Lost Pieta.” He believes the painting was done around 1545 as a gift for Michelangelo’s friend Vittoria Colonna. Additional evidence includes a letter from the Vatican library discussing a Pieta painting for Colonna. Some experts disagree, saying the painting is a masterpiece from the 16th century, but not a Michelangelo.  

Forcellino, however, is “absolutely convinced” that the painting was a Michelangelo. His main concern became the conditions that the painting had been living in for the past century - air condition, fireplaces, central heating, and stray tennis balls. 

Rest assured, potentially worth millions, the painting is now in a vault and is being prepared for an upcoming exhibit.


Monday, October 11, 2010

– Masdar City, Arcosanti and PlanIT Valley all vying for a piece of the Eco-Pie

Paolo Soeri’s Arcosanti

Ecocities, those green pasteurs of postmodern living, are the latest in technological midwivery.  The concept being, we can save the earth by wedding technology directly to micro-managing our lives and eventually our very organisms, through H+.  What began in Brave New World, continued through THX 1138 and landed eventually in Arcosanti, masdar city and PlanIT Valley is the realization of this idea, this need to tackle our expansion and consumption problem.

A view of the arcosanti cafe

In Arizona, USA, we have Arcosanti, an urban eco city based on the “Arcology (architecture and ecology)” philosophy of Paolo Soleri, located about 70 miles north of phoenix, that while only a model, attempts to actualize the theory behind urban sustainability.  A key feature being it’s beehive like living quarters where might residents take up housing nestled together in a space-friendly manner.  Everything else one needs, is just downstairs -like living in a mall with it’s own garden if memory serves.  The site has been in development since 1970 and is actually quite neat, aside from my disdain for the proposed living quarters. 

UAE/Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City

Masdar City

Soon to follow, Masdar’s masdar city, an eco energy cluster which again is an uber planned community with a focus on sustainability.  Admist the UAEs recent financial fiascos not drastically unlike ours here, the push for nation states the world over is to shift towards sustainable development as the next innovation, the internet or realestate boom of the 21st century, if you will.  The government of Abu Dhabi is therefore investing directly into building a new Palm City of sorts hedging on the what’s admittedly best for all, while vying for a leadership position in the future of energy development.  Two birds with one stone on this front.  The inhabitants have already moved into the community, though it’s not slated for completion until around 2020.  Masdar City will have universities and innovation centers onsite, a true Silicon Valley made of vegan cheese and tofurkey.

PlanIT Valley

Planned view of PlanIT Valley

Jumping ahead of either of these two, straight from Portugal, is PlanIT Valley, an eco urbia with all the technology you shake a tweet at.  Executive Steve Lewis of Living PlanIT has great ambitions for Europe’s new Silicon Valley. Set for completion around 2015, PlanIT Valley is hoping to have all the eco sustainability of solar panels and grass covered homes with the added benefit of 24 hour all encompassing CCTV surveillance for the safety of it’s inhabitants.  That makes PlanIT especially frightening.  What makes it interesting is it’s model: it is designed using the human body as a framework.  The city has a brain, a nervous system, a stomach and of course, eyes and ears.  A central computer controlling everything from water usage to energy consumption, a stomach which thrives on its own waste and even a set of kidneys to divert water from tanks in need from those with excess.  And the Petabytes of information and heat from processing all the data from the millions of sensors required to manage the city?  It will be used to heat buildings and manage climate.  Did we mention the weather will be monitored and managed to ensure complete control?  What happens when the system catches Rhinovirus, or worse yet, someone develops AIDS (not saying we think that happened or anything.

Chew on that for a while.  The ideas might almost be exciting if it weren’t for the realization that we are ruining our food supply with our love of all things artificial.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mr. T stands up for Mom

I pity your mother, just make sure Mr T doesn’t hear me say so.

Mat the Wad introduces Sports Fans

Mat the wad has always got something fun going on. In this episode we learn of the different types of sports fans.  Maybe you know one (or several) of the persons?

Mat the Wad takes Sports