Expo ’67 goes online

expo67sovietWhen I was two years old, my mom took me to Expo ’67 in Montreal. Of course I don’t remember a thing about it, but I like to think that the experience-via-osmosis somehow triggered off that certain section of developing grey matter that got me into the whole retro-future/techno-utopian subjects that my studies have orbited around.

The National Archives of Canada has put up a terrific on-line exhibition of Expo ’67. Even though it’s 1967 and the world is up past its elbows in conflict and cultural disassociation, Expo ’67 is refreshingly jet-age and perkily idealistic. I can just picture the moonbase.

The Go Game: San Francisco Urban Wireless Adventure

What happens when the Cacophony Society goes ultra high-tech

The Go Game is an all-out urban adventure game, a technology-fueled, reality-based experience that encourages hard play and a keen eye for the weird, the beautiful, or the faintly out-of-the-ordinary. The “rule book” is reality, the “board” is your city, and the “pieces” are the players — you and your team.

Through clues downloaded to a wireless device and hints planted in unlikely places, you’ll be guided through a city you only think you’re familiar with. Clues can appear at any time, anywhere. Perhaps you didn’t notice the woman on the bus reading a magazine upside-down. Or the note stuck to the side of the bathroom mirror of your favorite bar, or the electric scooter parked outside with your name on it. After a day of Go, you will.

The SF Weekly has a more descriptive article

Welcome to Isla California

isla_california We always knew that California was culturally separate from the rest of the U.S. and for a little over a hundred years in the 17th Century it was geographically separate too.

Anyway, I was looking for some images of the “Isla California” map today and discovered that not only are there a lot of different variations of the map – it’s also a popular subcategory for map collectors.

Some fun facts cribbed from the PRigsbee site

The “California as an island” map originated in 1625 when British cartographer Henry Briggs used reports from Spanish sailors that had mistakenly combined the Gulf of California and San Francisco Bay. Briggs’ map was picked up by Dutch and then German mapmakers who in their hurry to crank out new maps perpetuated the mistake which continued until 1747 when King Ferdinand VII of Spain declared that California was not an island.

Which leads to a question: Is that decree on display in the Spanish archives somewhere? I’d love to see it.

As for the future, there’s always the complete meltdown of the polar caps, but until then we’ve got that John Carpenter movie to hold us.

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Against Mike Davis

A new Mike Davis book, a new completely over-the-top lengthy histrionic attack on Davis from the establishment.

Until recently, the sperm of UC Irvine professors was not among the many subjects covered in the pages of The Guardian, one of England’s leading daily newspapers. But there it was in John Sutherland’s Sept. 30 column: “Tell Me Lies About Iraq: Politicians, generals and authors are all fighting the fiercest battle of all-to make us believe their side of the story.”

Despite the column’s title, no politician’s statements are scrutinized. No general is mentioned. And the examination of authors is limited to one: UC Irvine history professor Mike Davis.

Sutherland accuses Davis of aligning himself with the forces of darkness by using his new book, Dead Cities: And Other Tales, to poison the public debate in the U.K. over a “preemptive” war against Iraq. “The Iraqi lie factories are in full production,” Sutherland writes. “Davis has his product out early.”

This is strange because Dead Cities isn’t about Iraq. But then Sutherland isn’t actually attacking Davis for anything he has written about Iraq. Instead, he’s infuriated by something Dead Cities reveals in passing about the late, great Winston Churchill in a chapter on the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Sutherland is so upset he uses 14 of the column’s 15 paragraphs to attack Davis as a scholar and a person, in a way that is remarkable for its sneering disregard for the truth and for its incompetence.

Davis says Dead Cities is a study of “‘the radical contingency of cities,’ as well as the Urban West.” One of the book’s “dead cities” is the German Village, whose remains still stand at the Dugway Proving Ground. The U.S. Army Air Corps constructed the German Village during World War II to determine the best way to bomb Germany. “Best” in this context means “most destructive,” and “Germany” means “German civilians.”

And this is where Churchill enters the story.

Winston Churchill was an enthusiastic proponent of bombing civilians, as Davis amply documents. Specifically, Churchill was a proponent of bombing poor and working-class neighborhoods. The “mansions of the Nazi political and industrial elites” were off-limits because, as Davis neatly puts it, “this risked retaliation against Burke’s peerage”-that is, the British aristocracy and landed gentry, including Churchill’s own family. Middle-class neighborhoods were considered poor targets because the space between the homes made it harder for bombs to produce maximum damage. But the crowded conditions of working-class neighborhoods were perfect.