Archive | April 2017

Butler’s Law comes to Popmatters…

…and Popmatters needs your help!

Background: Joe Butler was one of my favorite profs during my undergrad years at SDSU (two decades ago). He had a maxim he called Butler’s Law which reads: “Things will always get more chickenshit.” It’s a hallmark of post-modernity.

Now Butler’s Law has come to internet advertising which is rapidly falling prey, like all media, to the corportization of everything. So while a company like Disney Inc earns a trillion (yes with a T) dollars a year churning out formulaic drek for the masses, smart and small web-based companies like Popmatters have to go begging just to buy new computers.

This isn’t the internet we were promised back in 2000 but it’s the internet we’re getting. Try to turn the tide a little by giving some of your precious ducats to Popmatters.

Here’s their spiel with a link at the end so you can send your cash-based love:

“PopMatters readers have come to this magazine for its smart and entertaining articles of cultural criticism since October 1999. Our 17-plus years of quality online publishing have earned us respect and loyalty from our educated and savvy readers. We continue to work hard to bring you an intelligent, cool reprieve from all the hype and blather that crowds the Internet these days. We always will.

We remain committed to the essay and longform writing, in other words, we publish smart writing for intelligent readers, not SEOed clickbait for search engines.

We urgently need help from our readers to fund an upgrade of the technology that powers PopMatters, help cover our increasing hosting costs, as well as some modest funds to help pay editors. 

We come from humble economic backgrounds, and we have, for 17 years, run a lean, reputable, hardworking operation. PopMatters is a wholly independent small company owned and run by women with no outside investment.

The economic and business challenges of online publishing are rarely understood outside of the industry. Briefly, among other things: there is a huge economic disparity between print and online advertising; businesses are increasingly solidifying their advertising through agencies that take as much as 60 percent of ad revenue and; although we attract 1.5 million monthly visitors with our high caliber content, the advertising monies we earn do not even begin to cover expenses anymore. Furthermore, with the advent of adblocking and low-priced programmatic advertising, our primary source of revenue is endangered.

We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices strong on the Internet. Your donation will help PopMatters stay vital — and grow — through these changing and challenging times.

We can’t do this without you. Thank you for your support.”

Kebayoran Baru in Jakarta with roving mind Tariq Khalil

My pal Tariq Khalil continues his awesome series on mid-century Jakarta architecture in Indonesia Design magazine with an engaging write-up on Kebayoran Baru. Once a satellite town of old Batavia, but now lost in the chaotic sprawl of modern Jakarta, Kebayoran Baru boasts some of the best kept mid-century domestic architecture in town. Long underappreciated, the post-war architecture of Indonesia is due for a revival: unique, dynamic, beautiful…

Check it out here:

Land of Pagodas excerpt in NeeHao magazine

Check out this excerpt from In the Land of Pagodas published in NeeHao magazine. It features a great section from our translation of Alfred Raquez’s first book: his description of a sumptuous dinner on a flower boat in Canton in 1898.

Read that here:

Then buy the book here:

Interview with WLG and PB on China Underground

Here’s nice a interview with myself and Paul about our translation of Alfred Raquez’s first book, In the Land of Pagodas.

Check out the interview here in English:

And here in Italian:

Thanks to the good folks over at China Underground for their awesome support!!


Land of Pagodas on China Underground!!

You can feel us penetrating the Great Wall here:

It’s  a cool newswebsite in English about Chinese topics that don’t have to do with Xi, trade, Trump, or the South China Sea, so click around once you get there.

Jakarta traffic in supermacet

Called macet  (sounds like the first part of “machete”) in local patois, Jakarta is now considered one of the worst cities in the world for traffic.

I drive here everyday on a little Honda Vario scooter, but I’ve never seen anything like this…

That’s a four way junction of two four-lane roads. The car trying to turn right is about mid-way through the junction. The tailback of motobikes on my side–which completely filled the oncoming lane–was at least a kilometer.

This goat-fuck went on for about 20 minutes. I turned off my motor and so did most other riders.

Then ONE GUY fixed this mess. He was a big burly dude with a jacket and a do-rag (under that broiling sun!), and he waded into the middle of his thing and by swearing and shoving and generally being a boss-man, got the motorbikes moving and unclogged the passage. This dude wasn’t a cop (there was none to be seen) but just a neighborhood guy with some balls and brawn and a short fuse…also a good sense of spatial geometry.

Whatever your commute, it’s probably PLAIN VANILLA compared to a daily run in Indonesia’s megacity!


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