Garret Vreeland took note of Mark Woodsrock-balancing meme. As one who is captivated by Inuit sculpture, I wanted to add to the meme by examining inuksuk as archetypal rock-balancing figure.

Inuksuit are among the most important objects created by the Inuit who were the first people to inhabit portions of Alaska, Arctic Canada, and Greenland. The term Inuksuk (the singular of Inuksuit) means ‘to act in the capacity of a human.’ It is an extension of Inuk, meaning ‘a human being.’

These stone figures were placed on the temporal and spiritual landscapes. Among many practical functions, they were employed as hunting and navigation aids, coordination points, indicators, and message centers.

These primal constructions are powerfully and sometimes whimsically affecting even out of context. I can only imagine their magical resonances in the Arctic landscape.

Whether they symbolized their maker, acted in his capacity, or were the object of veneration, Inuksuit functioned as helpers and messages created by an infinite arrangement of stones. They were an intergral part of the hunters’ language and endure as indelible signatures upon the Arctic landscape.

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Thinking about the inuksuk puts the rock-balancing urge upon me. You (and your children) can create your own.

You’ll Lose Sleep Over This Pill

‘Modafinil—better known as Provigil—is fast becoming America’s newest “go pill.” Made by Cephalon, a small publicly traded biotech firm in West Chester, Pa., Provigil is a central-nervous-system drug that promotes hyper-focus and alertness. Patients using Provigil in clinical tests functioned normally—for example, completing tedious computer tasks—after up to 54 hours without sleep.

In 1998 the FDA approved Provigil to treat narcolepsy, but doctors prescribe it “off label” as a fatigue fighter for airline pilots, long-haul truckers, and medical residents. Users say the drug doesn’t make them jittery the way caffeine does. One 200-milligram pill restores focus and alertness as effectively as three tall lattes and costs $5. And all the clinical data show that the drug has none of the addictive qualities of amphetamines like Dexedrine. Because Provigil has fewer side effects than Ritalin, it’s even being prescribed to some children with attention-deficit disorder…’ Fortune Magazine … and, as a psychopharmacologist, I can tell you that it doesn’t work for ADD, either in my clinical experience, according to the medical literature, or on theoretical grounds based on my understanding of its mechanism of action, which is totally distinct from that of psychostimulants. As far as its value as a fatigue-fighter or alertness-enhancing agent goes, as a ‘psychopharmacological Calvinist’, I assume you can’t get something for nothing in the CNS and, as is often the case in the first year or two after the approval of a new medication that seemed lily-white in premarketing suveillance, we will see a downside emerging. By the by, who is Fortune Magazine to practice without a license? People will take the 200-mg. factoid as a suggestion, sure as shooting, and it is in my opinion an irresponsibly high dose to recommend to anyone who does not have narcolepsy.

Pointless Absurdity

Beyond the sociological significance of demonstrating that a truly frivolous notion can get propagated easily on the web, Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day, as championed here by Dave Barry, is a truly pointless, frivolous notion. Sorry to be a stick-in-the-mud, but I can’t see dignifying it. But, then, I don’t see the point to flash mobs either (although I suspect it has something to do with the fact that the usual assembly point for the latter is the local watering hole…)

Windows to Power ATMs in 2005

“Within three years, most bank machines that dispense cash will run on the Windows operating system, according to a study published last week.

By 2005, 65 percent of bank ATMs (not including free-standing machines in places like convenience stores and casinos) in the United States will use a stripped-down version of Windows. About 12 percent of the machines will use the operating system by the end of this year.” Wired News Coming soon to the ATM of your choice: hacking exploits? blue screens of death?

Landline Numbers Can Go Mobile

“The coming freedom to keep your cell-phone number when changing wireless companies has overshadowed a possibly more revolutionary change also due this fall: the power to move a number from a regular wired phone to a mobile handset.

While traditional local phone companies see the government-mandated change as an unfair invitation for wireless rivals to steal their core customers, they say they’ll be ready by a Nov. 24 deadline to fulfill certain requests by customers who want a home or office number to become a cell-phone number.” Wired News

The World According to Some Glorious Chinese Misfits

Art review: “The painting arrived in New York from China as a tight little package, but when fully unrolled, it measures 32 feet. Even when only a section of it is displayed, as in New York, you can feel the grandeur of the complete image: a continuous panorama of the Yangtze River winding through mountains. Actually, it is a dream image, fantastic, even bizarre, with its yeasty rocks as soft as rising dough and its yawning stretches of unpainted space. For the artist to have walked the equivalent of this terrain would have taken months, even years. And since that’s probably how long it took him to paint the scroll, in effect, he made that trip. The Chinese call this mind-traveling, and they’ve always been big on it.New Yrok Times

Exposing Your Life

Top Facts on PDA Usage: “If one in three houses in your street were left with their front doors open at night would you think their owners were asking for trouble? One in three PDA users keep their PDA’s unprotected by not bothering with passwords which could end with the same dire consequences as keeping their doors open at night.”

Cops wary after rock band announces plan for ‘live suicide’ on stage

“An alternative rock band’s claim that it will feature a “live suicide” onstage during a St. Petersburg gig next month has gotten the attention of the concert hall owners and local police.

The Tampa group, Hell on Earth, said on its Web site that a terminally ill member of a right-to-die group planned to commit suicide on stage during an Oct. 4 performance at the State Theater.

The volunteer, who the Web site said would not be identified until the day of the show, wanted to carry out the suicide onstage to “raise awareness for dying with dignity.” Sun-Sentinel

Dying with dignity? In front of thousands of drunken metalheads and journalists drooling with expectancy of a sensational scoop? As an accompanist to a band whose songs, according to Rolling Stone, ‘include “Toilet Licking Maggot” and “Raped by the Virgin Mary” and whose past stage stunts… include having intercourse with cows and drinking blended rats’?

rethink the cool

The unswoosher: “This is a ground-breaking marketing scheme to uncool Nike. If it succeeds, it will set a precedent that will revolutionize capitalism.” Adbuster’s has been making these cryptic ‘black spot’ references for awhile. It is clear now what they were leading up to. I am a big fan of the No Logo meme; if this is real, blackSpot sneakers will get my brand loyalty, and I’ll revel in the knowledge that I am cooler than you all out there. Oops, that’s not supposed to be the point, you gather? In any case, however, Nike may have beaten the blackSpot campaign to the punch with the recent news that they have acquired Converse and will continue to offer the famed Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Exit Strategy

Billmon comments on a ‘classified’ WSJ article (just joking; what I meant is that it requires a WSJ subscription to read it) on a dysadministration plan that is apparently shaping up for US forces to beat a hasty retreat from Iraq. It would be useful to Bush, of course, to bring our boys home well in advance of next November. I myself favor another way of extricating ourselves from the Iraqi morass, as I wrote here last week — let’s invade Iran to disarm them instead, quickly. (Joking, again…)

Rush to Judgment

Cogent predictions from Counterspin about the specious critiques the Right will use to attack Wesley Clark’s record. Rush Limbaugh has apparently got this effort well underway already. Whatever you think of Clark, it helps to be prepared to counter credulous purveyors of ‘toxic waste’.

Daily Mislead

A daily chronicle of Bush administration distortion from the folks at Read it as a weblog or subscribe to a daily email bulletin of the latest Bush lies. Here is a .pdf of the MoveOn full-age New York Times ad announcing the Mislead.

“Sixteen untrue words in the State of the Union message helped push America into war with Iraq. It’s now clear that the remaining 5.397 words in the speech were just as misleading…”