Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin

Track oil donations to presidential candidates

information graphic oil industry contributions to U.S. presidential candidates has posted a dynamic information graphic showing contributions from the oil industry to U.S. presidential candidates.

In the “relationship view,” the more money a politician has accepted from the oil industry, the bigger their picture is on the map. The more money they have accepted from an individual company, the thicker the line will be that connects them. Elected officials & companies are positioned by their relationships, those that are close together tend to have similar patterns of giving and receiving. In the “table view,” politicians are ranked by their total dollar amount received, together with the companies that donated them.

via Information Aesthetics

A Serious Post about Legos?

Behold, the generic and intimidating Lego "Bad Guy" for their new Indiana Jones series:

generic Lego bad guy


As you may realize, Lego is engaging in a bit of revisionism: in the original films (at least in the first and third films), the "Bad Guys" were Nazis. Yet notice here that something is conspicuously absent from this little guy (in Lego lingo, a "minifig")...

Making the Best out of Your Hook Hand When Running for Senate

In Oregon, one of the 49 states that I am not from, Democratic Senate candidate Steve Novick has released a few campaign ads that cleverly play on two of his attributes that might otherwise be construed as weaknesses, his 4'9" height and his prosthetic hand. A friend forwarded me a link to a Huffington Post blog entry about the ads. I have embedded the actual ads below.

I like to use short videos like these in my rhetoric class to get students talking about basic rhetorical principles, such as how a person develops a particular ethos, and what the ramifications of that ethos might be for various artists. Read more about Making the Best out of Your Hook Hand When Running for Senate

John Updike on the history of the snapshot

history of snapshots

The New Yorker recently published an essay by John Updike on the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition “The Art of the American Snapshot 1888-1978.” The essay contains some information on the history of snapshots, and analysis of the same. Read more about John Updike on the history of the snapshot

The Torture/d Aesthetic

The Torture Aesthetic

Photo by Marcio Madeira for; first spotted at Boing Boing So I'm not surprised to see that this particular aesthetic has made its way onto the runways and into the designs of John Galliano; I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner (maybe it has? anyone?). What's interesting to me is the particular form these designs take, with their unmistakably medieval inflection: these designs are as much about the Inquisition as they are about Guantanamo. Is this trenchant (or maybe obvious) political critique, drawing a connection between the draconian measures of the Bush administration (so barbaric! so medieval!)? Or does it go too far, making light of serious infractions by implicitly connecting Lynndie England with court jesters and clowns?

Political theatrics

No Caption Needed has posted a brilliant analysis of the theatricality of presidential campaigns.

Fred Thompson emerging from backstage at a campaign appearance

Jim Wilson/New York Times

From the post:

You are looking at a photo from last week of Fred Thompson stepping onto a stage in Prosperity, South Carolina. The long view allows us to see the candidate as part of a scene, rather someone around whom everything else is compressed. The view also isolates each part of the scene: candidate, bunting, handler, local supporter, and wife-and-kid are each identifiable as if pieces of a grade school diorama. What is most revealing, however, is that we see both stage and backstage in a single view. What would have been The Candidate framed by the Red White and Blue becomes instead a tacky stage set–hey, don’t trip on that cord! And instead of those gathered in his name, we see instead wife-and-kid waiting in the wings, or waiting to make their entrance, but either way now bit players that make Thompson no more than the lead in the school play.
Read more about Political theatrics

Images of the Statue of Liberty in science fiction

Gerry Canavan has posted a collection of images of the Statue of Liberty taken from science fiction stories and films.
Fantastic Universe, August-September 1953 cover Statue of Liberty in sand

Fantastic Universe, August-September 1953

Watch out, Marty McFly

The image below, from the March, 1936, edition of Science And Mechanics, shows how you can rig up your car so that it will shock anyone who tries to hang onto the bumper to hitch a ride. Anti-hitch kink shocks people who want a ride

Such a device would surely have prevented this tragic waste of fertilizer. [ED: The YouTube video linked here has been removed, and we do not have sufficient information here to locate a mirror.]

Flickr hosts LOC photos; Smithsonian next?

The Library of Congress has created its own Flickr homepage and posted 3,000 public-domain photos to the site. This first collection of the LOC’s 14 million images is part of a pilot project called “The Commons.” The images are labeled with the photographer’s name and short descriptions, but the LOC is relying on Flickr’s users to provide tags for the images.

Collins, Marjory, 1912-1985,  1943 March, United Nations exhibit by OWI in Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. View of entrance from 5th Avenue

This is a fantastic idea. Not only is it great for the public, who will have easier access to these images, it should be great for the LOC, who are offloading to resource-intensive tasks—cataloguing and hosting the images—to a service that will do them both for free.

Yahoo! political dashboard

Yahoo political dashboard

Yahoo! has created a political dashboard that collects primary and poll information in a real-time, interactive interface (click on the image for a larger view) [ED: the political dashboard is no longer hosted on Yahoo! and is not archived on the Wayback Machine due to Flash issues. You can read a bit about the dashboard on TechCrunch here]. I’ve been playing around with this tool since the beginning of the year, and I’ve found the way it mixes different kinds of information to be helpful in following the campaigns.


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