Mixed Media

Happy 75th Ginger Baker! British Drummer Carried Beat for Cream

| Tue Aug. 19, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

If you've ever jammed to "Sunshine of Your Love" or "White Room" by Cream, spent time with the Blind Faith album, got down to Levitation by Hawkwind or listened to Public Image Limited's classic Album, then tip your hat to Mr. Ginger Baker, who turns 75 on August 19th, 2014.

To celebrate, Here are a few killer photos of Baker playing with Cream on the Dutch television show Fanclub.

F. van Geelen/Fanclub/Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision

And a more recent photo of Mr. Baker:

Peter Edward 'Ginger'' Baker is an English drummer, best known for his work with Cream. He is also known for his numerous associations with New World music and the use of African influences and other diverse collaborations such as his work with the rock band Hawkwind. David Levene/eyevine/ZUMA Press

Oh, and Bill Clinton and Tipper Gore also share a birthday today. Whatta party!

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Devo's "The Men Who Make the Music" is Hilarious and Unsettling

| Mon Aug. 18, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
DEVO in Akron, Ohio, 1978.

Devo
The Men Who Make the Music plus Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig
MVD Visual

Devo

Best known, perhaps, for the giddy 1980 smash, "Whip It," Devo was much more than the disposable New Wave novelty act that hit implied, as this enticing DVD proves. Mixing high concepts and low humor, the Ohio-bred band specialized in raucous punk-electronica drenched in pessimism and misanthropy, and delivered the goods with an irresistible, wild-eyed spirit, attracting support from the likes of David Bowie and Neil Young. The Men Who Make the Music draws primarily from Devo's groundbreaking '70s work, with raucous live footage and the still-amazing (if extremely low-budget) videos that preceded their major-label deal. Nearly four decades on, the clips for "Jocko Homo" and their savage deconstruction of the Stones' "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction" are both hilarious and unsettling, while testifying to the band's keen visual sense and absurdist flair. Capturing a live show at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig doesn't break any new ground, but it's still entertaining.

Here Is What Robert De Niro Had To Say About Being Nervous His First Time On Camera

| Sun Aug. 17, 2014 4:16 PM EDT
Robert De Niro's first appearance on screen, in the 1965 French film "Three Rooms in Manhattan." Les Productions Montaigne
 

Robert De Niro was born August 17, 1943. To celebrate his birthday, here is the two-time Oscar winner—who has appeared in nearly 100 films—telling Playboy about his first time on camera.

PLAYBOY: Do you remember your first experience before the cameras?

ROBERT DE NIRO: There was some little thing I did that I don't know whatever happened to. Some walk-on for an independent film: I walked in and ordered a drink at a bar.

I remember a bunch of other young actors hanging around, moaning and bitching, all made up, with pieces of tissue in their collars; it was the kind of thing you always hear about actors—where they're just silly or vain, complaining back and forth, walking around primping, not wanting to get the make-up on their shirts.

PLAYBOY: So you didn't exactly feel as if you had found a home.

ROBERT DE NIRO: No, I didn't want to be around those people at all. I just walked in and walked out. I was nervous, though, just to say the line "Gimme a drink." It makes me think of that joke: "Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" You know that joke?

PLAYBOY: No.

ROBERT DE NIRO: I'm surprised you never heard it; it's a famous actor's joke.

This guy hasn't acted in about 15 years, because he always forgets his lines, so finally he has to give it up. He's working in a gas station and gets a phone call from someone saying that they want him for a Shakespearean play—all he has to do is say, "Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" He says, "Well, God, I don't know." The director says, "Look, it'll be OK. You'll get paid and everything." So he says, "OK, I'll do it." The play has five acts and he has to go on in the third act and say, "Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" That's all he has to do. So he rehearses it when he's in his apartment: "Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" Every variation, every possible emphasis. They're into rehearsal, and he's got it written on his mirror: "Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" And so on. Finally, comes opening night, first act, no problem. Second act, things go fine. Audience applauds. Stage manager says, "You have five minutes for the third act." He tells him to get backstage. His time comes, he runs out, muttering to himself, "Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar! Hark! I hear the cannon roar!" And as he runs out, he hears a big brrrooooom!! Turns around and says, "What the fuck was that?"

Robert De Niro is great.

Madonna's Billboard Number-Ones, Ranked

| Sat Aug. 16, 2014 4:48 PM EDT

Madonna Louise Ciccone was born August 16, 1958. In celebration of her birthday, here are her songs that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 ranked, according to me, a fan with opinions.

12. "This Used To Be My Playground" (1992)

11. "Justify My Love" (1991)

10. "Who's That Girl" (1987)

9. "Live To Tell" (1986)

8. "Music" (2000)

7. "Take A Bow" (1995)

6. "Crazy For You" (1985)

5. "Papa Don't Preach" (1986)

4. "Open Your Heart" (1987)

3. "Like A Virgin" (1984)

2. "Vogue" (1990)

1. "Like A Prayer" (1989)

Meet the First Woman to Win the "Nobel Prize of Mathematics"

| Thu Aug. 14, 2014 1:29 PM EDT

On Wednesday, Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman in 78 years to be awarded the prestigious Fields Medal, considered the highest honor in mathematics. She was selected for "stunning advances in the theory of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces."

The Fields Medal is awarded every four years by the International Mathematical Union to outstanding mathematicians under 40 who show promise of future achievement. With the announcement of Mirzakhani and this year's other awardees—Arthur Avila, Manjul Bhargava, and Martin Hairer—there now have been 54 male and 1 female medalists.

Many hope Mirzakhani's Fields medal is a sign of change to come. "I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," she said in a press release. Christiane Rousseau, vice president of the International Mathematics Union, told the Guardian this is "an extraordinary moment" and "a celebration for women," comparable to Marie Curie's barrier-breaking Nobel prizes in physics and chemistry in the early 20th century.

And as Canadian math professor Izabella Laba wrote: "Mirzakhani's selection does exactly nothing to convince me that women are capable of doing mathematical research at the same level as men. I have never had any doubt about that in the first place…What I take from it instead is that we as a society, men and women alike, are becoming better at encouraging and nurturing mathematical talent in women, and more capable of recognizing excellence in women's work."

Mirzakhani's accomplishment is all the more groundbreaking in light of the well-documented disadvantages and biases women face in math and science. According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are no significant biological differences that could explain women's low representation in STEM academic faculty and leadership positions (although that doesn't stop prominent people from making claims otherwise.) Instead, NAS says we can thank bias and academia's "outmoded institutional structures."

For example, in a 2008 Yale study, professors were asked to rate fictional applicants for a lab manager position. When given an application with a male name at the top, professors rated the candidate more competent and hirable than when given an otherwise identical form with a female name. This bias was found in both male and female faculty members.

And that's not all women in STEM fields have to contend with: A July report found that a full 64 percent of women in various scientific fields were sexually harassed while doing fieldwork.

These disadvantages—along with a history of men getting the credit for discoveries and inventions made by women—help explain why only 9 to 16 percent of tenure-track positions in math-intensive fields at the top 100 US universities are held by women. According to the American Mathematical Society, the share of women earning Ph.D.s in math has remained stagnant for decades:

(Additional AMS data used in the above chart found here.)

Mirzakhani, who grew up in Iran before earning her Ph.D. at Harvard and becoming a professor at Stanford, told the Clay Mathematics Institute in 2008 that she did not initially realize her strength in math: "I don't think that everyone should become a mathematician, but I do believe that many students don't give mathematics a real chance. I did poorly in math for a couple of years in middle school; I was just not interested in thinking about it. I can see that without being excited mathematics can look pointless and cold."

20,000 Watched the Last Public Hanging 78 Years Ago

| Thu Aug. 14, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

An estimated 15,000–20,000 people showed up for what would be the last public execution in the United States.

Around 5:20 a.m., August 14, 1936, Rainey Bethea was led to the gallows in Owensboro, Kentucky for robbing, raping and murdering Lischia Edwards, a 70 year old woman. Bethea was black, Edwards was white. He confessed to committing the crimes, but was only charged with the rape. Unlike a murder conviction, which would have carried a maximum sentence of death by electrocution at the state penitentiary, a rape conviction allowed for the convicted to be publicly hanged in the county where the crime occurred.

In this Friday, Aug. 14, 1936 file picture, a large crowd watches as attendants adjust a black hood over Rainey Bethea's head just before his public hanging in Owensboro, Ky. Bethea, a 22-year-old black man convicted of raping a 70-year-old white woman, was the last person killed in a public execution in the United States.  AP
 

The hanging drew national media attention–largely because the Sheriff of Daviess county was a woman. As Sheriff, Florence Shoemaker Thompson would be responsible for actually hanging Bethea (though she wound up not pushing the lever to the gallows' trapdoor). The media circus surrounding the hanging prompted the Kentucky General Assembly to amend the law in 1938, no longer required convicted rapists to be hanged in the county seat where the crime occurred.

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The Latest Court Case Didn’t End the NCAA As We Know It. The Next One Might.

| Wed Aug. 13, 2014 4:50 PM EDT
NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis

On Friday, a federal judge made college sports history when she ruled that the NCAA could not deny players from profiting from the use of their likenesses on TV or in video games. In doing so, Judge Claudia Wilken laid down two rules: (1) Schools can put up to $5,000 a year in a trust for athletes; and (2) they can offer more comprehensive scholarships that cover the full cost of attending college.

Many NCAA watchers have argued that the ruling in O'Bannon v. NCAA doesn't change much, contrary to what some thought a year ago. For example, schools in the rich, successful power conferences already were moving to beef up scholarships. In the sense that the NCAA suffered a manageable setback, some have argued that it actually came out on top. But, they say, the NCAA might not be so lucky the next time around.

That's because its upcoming legal battle could kill the governing body as we know it. Representing four former college athletes, big-time sports labor lawyer Jeffrey Kessler is targeting the NCAA and its five biggest conferences—the Atlantic Coast, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pacific 12, and the Southeastern—in an effort to dismantle the NCAA's "amateur" system entirely. In a powerfully worded claim, he writes that the defendants "have lost their way far down the road of commercialism," adding that their refusal to pay student-athletes is "illegal," "pernicious," and has brought "substantial damages…upon a host of college athletes whose services have yielded riches only for others." The offering of scholarship money, he writes, is not nearly enough. "This class action is necessary to end the NCAA's unlawful cartel, which is inconsistent with the most fundamental principles of antitrust law."

The athletes represented in Jenkins v. NCAA—all onetime Division I basketball and football players—aren't seeking damages, but rather an injunction that would make the status quo illegal, open up athlete compensation to market forces, and basically blow up the NCAA as currently constructed.

"My instinct is that the NCAA probably feels better about winning the Jenkins case than it did before the O'Bannon decision," says legal expert Michael McCann.

Michael McCann, director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire, finds that outcome unlikely. "My personal belief is that none of these cases are going to be a death blow to the NCAA," he said over the phone. If anything, he says, the outcome of O'Bannon boosts the NCAA's chances in the Jenkins case, especially since Wilken's decision highlighted the limits of antitrust law and didn't come out in favor of endorsement deals for high-profile players. "My instinct is that the NCAA probably feels better about winning the Jenkins case than it did before the O'Bannon decision."

Still, Jenkins is by far the broadest and boldest challenge to the NCAA's amateurism system yet, and Kessler's involvement is an enormous boost to the cause. He's a giant of sports law, having won the fight to secure free agency for NFL players in 1992, and his clients have included the players' associations of the NFL and NBA, Tom Brady, and Michael Jordan. The NCAA, not to be outdone, has spent $240,000 on its congressional lobbying efforts this year, already shattering past spending records with months left to go in 2014.

Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples figures that the outcome of Jenkins, and the future of the NCAA, will come down to the "lifeline" Wilken tossed the NCAA: her opinion that paying college athletes more than a small amount (like $5,000 per year) could harm college sports. If the NCAA's lawyers can make the case that fans would abandon college sports if athletes were paid pro-level salaries, the association will likely survive. If Kessler can persuade otherwise, then the NCAA as we know it could be history. "The ultimate winner," Staples writes, "will be the one with best lawyers."

McCann suggests, however, it may not even come to that. "This is the kind of case that could get settled," he says. "Maybe it is resolved internally. Maybe the NCAA and conferences will get together and make some changes. The O'Bannon case took five years. This case was filed earlier this year…There may not be a resolution on this for a long time."

Marines First Accepted Women Enlistees 96 Years Ago

| Wed Aug. 13, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Marine Reservists (F) pose for a photograph at Headquarters, Marine Corps, Washington D.C., 1918. Marine Corps Women's Marine Reserve/Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections/Flickr
 

By luck of being the first person in a line of 305 women waiting to enlist, Opha Mae Johnson of Kokomo, Indiana became the first woman to join the Marines in 1918. The Marines were looking to fill office and clerical roles in the States while all battle-ready male Marines were shipped to the frontlines of World War I. To help fill the vacancies, the Marines Corps opened enlistment to women for the first time–two years before women could even vote!

Opha Mae Johnson Wikimedia
 
Looking trim in their new uniforms are (left to right) Private First Class Mary Kelly, May O'Keefe, and Ruth Spike. The newly recruited Marines posed at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. Marine Corps Women's Marine Reserve/Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections/Flickr
 
Swearing In - New York Recruiting Office, 17 August 1918 Violet Van Wagner, Marie S. Schleight, Florence Wiedinger, Isabelle Balfour, Janet Kurgan, Edith Barton, and Helen Constance Dupont are sworn in as privates by Lieutenant George Kneller in New York. The women are shown wearing the standard-issued men's blouse, prior to the creation of the women's uniform. Mrs. Dupont and Miss Kurgan are sisters. Marine Corps Women's Marine Reserve/Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections/Flickr
 
Women Marines post recruiting posters on a wall in New York City. From left to right, they are, Privates Minette Gaby, May English, Lillian Patterson, and Theresa Lake. Marine Corps Women's Marine Reserve/Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections/Flickr
 

The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was officially established in 1943. Five years later Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, making women a permanent part of the Marine Corps.

U.S. Marines recruitment poster, 1915

 

Burn Your Beatles Records!

| Tue Aug. 12, 2014 5:42 PM EDT

Early August 1966, Christian groups, primarily in the Southern United States took to the streets to burn the sin out of their beloved Beatles records in response to John Lennon's remark that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus."

Birmingham disc jockeys Tommy Charles, left, and Doug Layton of Radio Station WAQY, rip and break materials representing the British pop group The Beatles, in Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 8, 1966. The broadcasters started a "Ban The Beatles" campaign. AP

Like all good moments of mass hysteria, getting a little context helps put things in perspective.

The quote originally appeared in March 1966, in part of an interview with Lennon published in the London Evening Standard. The interviewer, Maureen Cleave, commented that Lennon was at the time reading about religion. Here is the full, original quote from Lennon:

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first—rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.

In late July, five months after its original publication, a U.S. teen mag called Datebook republished the interview with Lennon. Turning to the tried and true method of generating scandal to gin up sales, Datebook put the "We're more popular than Jesus" part of the quote on the cover. Woo-boy. Two Birmingham DJs picked up on the quote, vowing to never play the Beatles and on August 8th, started a "Ban the Beatles" campaign. Christian groups across the South rose up to protest the Beatles who, as it happened, were just about embark on what would be their last U.S. tour. Beatles records were burned, crushed, broken. Never a group to miss out on a good bonfire, the Ku Klux Klan got involved.

South Carolina Grand Dragon, Bob Scoggin of the Klu Klux Klan tosses Beatle records into the flames of a burning cross, in Chester, South Carolina, Aug. 11, 1966. The "Beatle Bonfire" was staged to take exception to a statement attributed to John Lennon, when he was quoted as saying that his group was more popular than Jesus. AP

On August 12, 1966 the Beatles set out on tour, meeting protests and stupid questions about the quote all along the way. It would be the last tour the Beatles would ever do in the United States, ending on August 29 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Young churchfolk from Sunnyvale on the San Francisco peninsula protest against the Beatles and John Lennon's remark that The Beatles are "more popular than Jesus" outside Candlestick Park where the Beatles are holding a concert in San Francisco, Ca., Aug. 29, 1966. The picketers were seen by many of the teenagers but missed by the entertainers, who arrived and departed from a different direction. Some 25,000 fans went through the gates for The Beatles' final U.S. performance on their tour. AP

 

Robin Williams Has Died at 63

| Mon Aug. 11, 2014 7:33 PM EDT

Just awful. I'm speechless.

Rest in peace.