Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Round the World Adventure

My Round the World Adventure


Interesting Facts About the United States

Posted: 31 Aug 2011 04:15 PM PDT

the american flagI'm unexpectedly back in the United States for two weeks. After four and a half months in Europe, I needed a bit of a break from traveling to start writing my book. Hostels just aren't the right environment for writing and with an airline credit I need to use, I figured my parent's house was a good place to go. Despite all my time overseas, I really do like the United States. It's got a very interesting history. Some interesting facts:

The United States is the fattest country in the world with fully 33% of the population overweight.

Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport.

College Park Maryland has the oldest functioning airport in the USA.

Point Roberts, Washington cannot be entered or exited without going through Canada. Both nations have immigration points of entry despite a population of less than 1,000.

Wisconsin has more lakes than Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes.

The longest stone arch bridge in the world is the Rockville Bridge in Marysville, Pennsylvania.

Salt Lake City has a law against carrying an unwrapped ukulele on the street.

The Hollywood Bowl in California is the world’s largest amphitheater.

The first motion picture theater opened in Los Angeles in 1902.

Tallahassee, Florida was the only Confederate state capital that did not fall to the Union during the Civil War.

Maine grows 98% of the nation's blueberries.

Wabash, Indiana was the first electrically lighted city in the world.

Pensacola, Florida is actually the oldest city in the US. It was settled in 1559 by Don Tristan de Luna.

The first public university in the United States was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kentucky has the largest cave system in the world – the Mammoth cave system has over 200 miles of caves.

Wyoming was the first place in the USA to allow women to hold office and vote.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France in 1884.

Though the statue is associated with New York City, it is physically located in New Jersey

Some of Ghandi’s ashes can be found in the Lake Shrine Temple near Los Angeles.

The first person to become president who was born in a hospital was Jimmy Carter.

Arlington National Cemetery was once Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s plantation.

Manhattan's Chinatown has the most Chinese residents in the Western Hemisphere.

The real London Bridge was transplanted to Lake Havasu, Arizona, in 1968.

American Indians were not US citizens until 1924.

The King of Thailand is technically an American citizen. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1927.

The United States has no official language.

The word "sideburns" comes from the American Civil War and named after General Ambrose Burnside.

Harvard was the first university in the United States and founded in 1636.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had a bet on who would die first. The both died the same day on July 4th, 1826, each thinking the other had outlived the other.

New York was once ruled by the Dutch and called New Amsterdam.

The original capital of the United States was Philadelphia. Washington D.C. became the capital in 1790.

The United States Navy has the second largest air force in the world. The United States Air Force has the first.

The United States debt per person is 45,000 USD.

George Washington used to grow hemp.

The Republic of Ragusa, now part of present day Croatia, was the first country to recognize the United States in 1776.

John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in a theatre and was found in a warehouse. Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and was found in a theatre.

All three major 1996 Presidential candidates, Clinton, Dole and Perot, were left-handed.

The dome on Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, conceals a billiards room. In Jefferson’s day, billiards were illegal in Virginia.

The United States outlawed Alcohol in 1919 with the 18th amendment. It was legalized again in 1933 with the 21st amendment.

Women got the right to vote in the United States in 1920.

In America, you can drive a car when you are 16, vote and own a gun when you are 18, buy alcohol when you are 21.

The United States is a republic with three branches of government: legislature, executive, and judicial.

Of all U.S. Presidents, none lived to be older than John Adams, who died at the age of 91.

Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was the first (and only) foreign-born first lady.

Ohio is listed as the 17th state in the U.S., but technically it is number 47. Until 1953, Congress forgot to vote on a resolution admitting Ohio to the union.

The population of the United States is 307 million.

40% of Americans don't believe in Evolution.

18% of Americans believe the sun revolves around the Earth.

63% of young Americans can’t find Iraq on a map.

The top 1% of Americans own 33% of the wealth in America, more than the bottom 50% combined.

The bottom 50% of Americans control 2.5% of the nation's wealth.

Nine out of 10 Americans can’t find Afghanistan on a map, even if you give them the advantage of a map limited to Asia.

Gerald Ford was the only man to be both President and Vice-President but who was not elected to either post.

When Harry Truman left office in 1952 he got in his own car and drove himself back to Missouri.

Andrew Jackson was the only U.S. President to believe that the world is flat.

President Taft got stuck in his bathtub on his Inauguration Day and had to be pried out by his attendants.

George Washington’s false teeth were made of whale bone.

George Washington had to borrow money to go to his own inauguration.

Ronald Reagan was the oldest President elected to office.

The Baby Ruth candy bar was actually named after Grover Cleveland’s baby daughter, Ruth.

The Pentagon is the largest building in the world.

32% of all land in the US is owned by the federal government.

The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

WebEcoist

WebEcoist


Plastic Fantastic: Cracking Art Group Colors Our World

Posted: 30 Aug 2011 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Steve in Art & Design & Geography & Travel & Uncategorized. ]


Cracking Art Group seeks to change art history by taking an ethically responsible approach to ambient art. Founded in 1983, the six artists that comprise CAG expertly evoke the strict relationship between natural life and artificial reality through the innovative use of outsized animal assemblages expressed in brilliantly colored recycled plastic.

Art Group on Crack?

(image via: Mosaic Art Source Blog)

Cracking Art Group was founded in 1993 and their first poke at the public eye took place later the same year at the Epocale exhibition in Milan, Italy. The group’s six members (William Sweetlove, Renzo Nucara, Marco Veronese, Alex Angi, Carlo Rizzetti, and Kicco) all hail from west-central Europe, specifically Italy, France and Belgium.

(images via: Amazing Data, Kicco Cracking and Corriere Della Sera)

What’s in a name? Much, if you’re Cracking Art Group. Take "Cracking," for instance. By invoking the process of splitting, breaking, separating, and expanding "the gap of the contemporary man, struggling between the primary naturalness and a future more and more artificial." Nice work if you can get it!

(images via: Kicco Cracking, Victor.Showoff and WST)

The word "cracking" has another meaning as well, in that it’s the name of the chemical refining process that breaks the long-chain hydrocarbons of crude oil into short ones which then become the building blocks of a wide range of petroleum-based plastics.

(images via: WeHeartIt and Profimedia)

According to Cracking Art Group, "Artists belonging to this movement believe that cracking is that kind of process which converts the natural into the artificial, the organic into the synthetic". Where would our modern technological society be without such processes?

Living in the Plastic Age

(image via: Unconsumption)

Every silver lining has its cloud, however, and Cracking Art Group believes that the process of transmuting natural to artificial, if not controlled, splits our species from our evolutionary path and confronts us with new realities beyond our experience. We are not who we used to be, it would seem, and the hard-wired humanity inside us conflicts with the overly processed lives we’ve created to “better” ourselves.

(images via: MonPuteaux.com, The SOP and 500blog)

By selecting recycled plastic and adapting it to their own purpose, Cracking Art Group is attempting to wrench back control of the process and turn it towards fulfilling the movement's social and environmental commitment to reinstating humanity as part of nature, not apart from it.

(images via: Whorange, Haute World and Praha Graffiti)

Can one separate Modern Man from his history and in doing so, change his future? Cracking Art Group thinks they can, and their modus operandi involves leveraging a unique, creative, conceptual formula that challenges the rules of contemporary art.

(images via: Kicco Cracking, Artbis.fr and Profimedia)

CAG’s challenge typically takes the form of an invasion: huge, colorful plastic animals interpose themselves into our modern public spaces: highways, supermarkets, office buildings and parks to name just a few. We may not notice discarded plastic water bottles in such spaces but their upcycled and boldly tinted reincarnations? Just try NOT noticing them.

(images via: Milano 2.0 and Journal Des Vitrines)

The key element in Cracking Art Group’s assault on passive modern art and the dual nature of our millenary civilization is their use of recycled plastic. Upcycling plastic is a subversive activity: the artists effectively subtract a vital link in a one-way chain of toxic destruction that cumulatively can devastate our environment.

(images via: Journal Des Vitrimes and Artnet.fr)

Though it might not look natural, "making plastic art works means communicating through an innovative and aesthetic language and expressing a particular sensibility to nature." What’s more out of place, a flock of gigantic fuschia snails or a scattering of strewn plastic water bottles… are not both unacceptable?

The Dual Nature of Man’s Works

(images via: Galerie 208 and Kicco Cracking)

Active and frequent participants in art events and exhibitions over more than a decade, Cracking Art Group is perhaps best known for their outdoor installations. The larger than life size, scale and strangeness of these installations tends to catch the public eye whether the public wants their eyes caught or not: how can one disregard a commercial building covered by several dozen huge red plastic lizards? Business as unusual indeed.

(images via: Best Of All Worlds, Mrs Wagner’s Art Ideas, Nashville247 and Wired New York)

In some ways, Cracking Art Group’s works bear a strong resemblance to those of the artist Christo (above). Both create immense outdoor installations employing large expanses of brilliantly colored material that co-opt real-world infrastructure to punctuate their impact. As well, both artists are environmentally-minded and use their art as a method of expanding ecological awareness.

(images via: Amy Goodwin and Aliraqi)

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Twenty-five years after Ferris Bueller said it, life’s moving faster than ever and FB’s pithy observation is ever more accurate. Our hectic lives and lifestyles rarely afford us the chance to stop, let alone look around.

(images via: Artsfactory, Newer World and KraftyKim)

Cracking Art Group’s oversized, visually intense and eye-grabbing outrageousness works to shake even the most undistractable among us, jarring our routines out of the rat race if only for a moment and prompting serious thought. Is this where we really want to be as a society? Does the march of progress to the current supposed golden age and beyond have a dark side, and if so, should we be ignoring it?

(image via: Kicco Cracking / Panoramio)

The late George Carlin once humorously mocked our frantic concern with “some plastic bags”, positing that plastic was, ultimately, one of the Earth’s children and our planet would eventually incorporate it into a new paradigm: The Earth Plus Plastic. It may yet happen but Mankind will be long gone by then. For the time being, though, ask yourself: what will you do when the big bad wolf comes to blow your plastic house down?


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[ By Steve in Art & Design & Geography & Travel & Uncategorized. ]

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