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30 Oct 04:42

Death threats are bad, but…

by PZ Myers

Andrew Sullivan commits a classic rhetorical error.

So let me make a few limited points. The tactics of harassment, threats of violence, foul misogyny, and stalking have absolutely no legitimate place in any discourse. Having read about what has happened to several women, who have merely dared to exercise their First Amendment rights, I can only say it’s been one of those rare stories that still has the capacity to shock me. I know it isn’t fair to tarnish an entire tendency with this kind of extremism, but the fact that this tactic seemed to be the first thing that some gamergate advocates deployed should send off some red flashing lights as to the culture it is defending.

All well and good, but…there’s a “but” coming. It doesn’t really need to be a “but”. And unfortunately, Sullivan throws out a real stinker of a “but”.

Second, there’s a missing piece of logic, so far as I have managed to discern, in the gamergate campaign. The argument seems to be that some feminists are attempting to police or control a hyper-male culture of violence, speed, competition and boobage. And in so far as that might be the case, my sympathies do indeed lie with the gamers. The creeping misandry in a lot of current debates – see “Affirmative Consent” and “Check Your Privilege” – and the easy prejudices that define white and male and young as suspect identities (because sexism!) rightly offend many men (and women).

There’s an atmosphere in which it has somehow become problematic to have a classic white, straight male identity, and a lot that goes with it. I’m not really a part of that general culture – indifferent to boobage, as I am, and bored by violence. But I don’t see why it cannot have a place in the world. I believe in the flourishing of all sorts of cultures and subcultures and have long been repulsed by the nannies and busybodies who want to police them – whether from the social right or the feminist left.


Now why wouldn’t anyone want to tone down a culture of violence? And while boobs are lovely, why shouldn’t people keep in mind that they are attached to human beings? This is a very peculiar argument, to suggest that it would be a bad thing to discourage violence and sexism…or at least, to keep it confined to fantasy worlds.

And there’s something even more appalling here. Look what Sullivan unthinkingly does: a culture of “violence, speed, competition and boobage” is “hyper-male”. Expecting affirmative consent and that we all recognize our cultural advantages is “misandry”. And somehow all of these things are tangled up in the “classic white, straight male identity”.

I am a “classic white, straight male”. I think I’m offended that Sullivan believes that I’m supposed to embrace the assholishness of the gamergaters, that somehow my sex and sexual orientation and skin color should make me find common cause with a mob of smug jerks who find amusement in disparaging and objectifying women. I’ve got news for Sullivan: that crap doesn’t go with my identity. The idea that sexism is part of the classic white, straight male identity is a perfect example of the toxic masculinity that feminists have been deploring.

27 Oct 20:43

Thousand Dollar Bottle?!?!

by Big Bad Bald Bastard
My friend Peter has been in town for the past couple of days. He has been residing in San Diego for a while, but his parents still live in Yonkers. The family visited Prague, where Pete's parents were born, for a family reunion, and Peter stopped in New York to visit friends.

Over a decade ago, Peter wanted to learn everything there was to know about a very, very, very specific subject that had little-to-no practical value. He finally settled on the whiskys of Islay. He purchased a bottle from each of the distilleries located on the island, and tracked down a bottle from the Port Ellen distillery which had just closed. It was a bottle of the 1980 vintage 18 year-old whisky:

Back in the day, Peter had arranged a tasting for a bunch of us, with bottles of each of the whiskys and water and ice if we didn't want our whisky neat. I usually drink my whisky with the tiniest "teardrop" of water- dip the finger in a glass and add one drop, please. In the course of the event, we partook of the 1980 18-year Glen Ellen. On Sunday, a bunch of us got together and Peter busted out the bottle, which is about half-full.

If you look at the collectors' prices for Port Ellen scotch, they range from hundreds of pounds to thousands of pounds. If it had remained unopened, Peter's bottle would probably have been worth about $750-800. Sharing the bottle was worth a lot more, and he'll be bringing the bottle back with him to San Diego, where one of his co-workers is a Scotch aficianado. The whisky is a rarity, and it will be a treat for this guy to try a nip of such a nonesuch.

I take a pretty dim view of "collectors", probably due to the sort of people who hoard comic books and toys, driving up the prices so that families with little kids can't afford them. Toys were meant to be played with, books to be read, and whisky to be drunk. If Peter had held onto the unopened bottle, he could have sold it at a handsome profit, but the stories that he'll be able to tell about sharing the scotch will friends are so much more valuable.
27 Oct 20:00

Fight Over Alcohol Ban Ends When Town Learns It Doesn't Have One

by Kevin

It's too late to vote this year in Hanover, Manitoba, because Election Day was October 22. On the other hand, if your main interest was the referendum on whether to repeal the town's long-standing ban on alcohol sales, don't feel bad, because it turns out the town never actually had a ban on alcohol sales.

Or, at least, nobody can prove it did.

Following vote, alcohol is now still not illegal here

Hanover is a rural municipality southeast of Winnipeg, comprised of about 14,000 people living in five townships and points inbetween. According to a 1982 history by local resident Lydia Penner, the area was set aside for Mennonite immigrants from eastern Europe in the 1870s, but was turned into a municipality in 1881. While some nearby communities voted to repeal alcohol bans over the next century, Hanover never did. In fact, it had held at least one prior referendum on the issue, in 2006, but the repeal measure failed by just 30 votes. The issue came up again this year because a restaurant owner had expressed interest in serving alcohol, so another referendum was prepared.

This time, somebody seems to have actually checked the existing bylaws. Noticing they did not include a ban on alcohol sales, the town hired some lawyers to check further. "We went back to 1880," said the reeve (mayor), Stan Toews, "and we could not find a bylaw that said Hanover is dry."

This was news to him and apparently everyone else. Towes, who is 63, said he had lived in the area his whole life and that the municipality had been "dry" as long as he could remember. Apparently people there have either not been drinking at all, have been traveling to the nearby safe zones to buy alcohol, or have been going to the one convenience store on the edge of town where alcohol was sold. "Municipal officials have left it alone" for decades, the National Post noted, although it turns out they have been turning a blind eye to something that was never illegal.

"It's been there since the early '70s," Towes said, "and I've often asked, 'How did this come about?' But nobody seemed to have the history." And apparently nobody thought (or cared enough) to look for it during the next four decades.

It appears that at least conservative Mennonites do not drink alcohol, so this may be where the idea originated. Penner's history doesn't mention anything about this one way or another, but does note that for decades very few bylaws existed. In fact, only five were passed in the first 30 years. Penner states that for reasons such as language barriers (most spoke only Russian or German) and "their teaching against taking fellow believers to court" (see 1 Corinthians 6), "the Mennonites of Hanover avoided the entire paraphernalia of the legal system as much as possible." In particular, as the minutes of a 1917 meeting record, "the council thinks it is advisable to pass as few by-laws as possible." Herein lies wisdom.

There still are relatively few by-laws in Hanover today, at least judging by its website. After October 22, there are now exactly the same number governing alcohol sales as there were before: zero.

(Via Neatorama.)

27 Oct 21:00

Fast Food Wages

by Erik Loomis

Why it’s almost as if fast food companies are lying when they say they have to keep wages low in order to survive!

On a recent afternoon, Hampus Elofsson ended his 40-hour workweek at a Burger King and prepared for a movie and beer with friends. He had paid his rent and all his bills, stashed away some savings, yet still had money for nights out.

That is because he earns the equivalent of $20 an hour — the base wage for fast-food workers throughout Denmark and two and a half times what many fast-food workers earn in the United States.

“You can make a decent living here working in fast food,” said Mr. Elofsson, 24. “You don’t have to struggle to get by.”

With an eye to workers like Mr. Elofsson, some American labor activists and liberal scholars are posing a provocative question: If Danish chains can pay $20 an hour, why can’t those in the United States pay the $15 an hour that many fast-food workers have been clamoring for?

“We see from Denmark that it’s possible to run a profitable fast-food business while paying workers these kinds of wages,” said John Schmitt, an economist at the Center for Economic Policy Research, a liberal think tank in Washington.

And if those fast food companies are less profitable in Denmark than the U.S., well, good! Companies should have lower profits if that money is going into the hands of workers. This seems self-evident to me, but I know even many liberal Americans have so internalized the logic of modern profit ideology that the idea of lower profits in exchange for better lives for low-paid workers makes many people uncomfortable.

26 Oct 07:23

Pilgrim’s Progress

by Gildas the Monk

Post image for Pilgrim’s Progress

I see that the glitzy behemoth that is the BBC’s Children in Need is hoving into view. I have to confess, I don’t really like it. How can one not support such a manifestly good cause, you may say? Well, I don’t being part of a herd, I don’t like being dragooned, and I don’t like the endless parade of “celebs”. I feel the same with the blooming Red Nose day. Perhaps it is churlish of me. I do, on the other hand, strongly support giving to charities where I know exactly where my money is going. There is a short list; these involve certain local rescue charities for animals, Marie Curie, and the Samaritans – because I have been alone in those wee small hours which pass so slowly and so painfully for some. I will return to this below.

I have spent a fair bit of time apparently doing nothing at all lately. This often involves sitting in one of my favourite cafés, sipping large amounts of fruit tea, and staring into space. In the picturesque Pennines hamlet not too far away there are a couple I frequent. One is run by a gentle couple, Mark and Irene. As Mark often says, he thinks of it more as a public service than a business. It is a quirky place, homely and with a sheltered garden with tables and chairs, in which I can sit and take in the autumn sunshine, or even enjoy the rain under the safety of the large garden umbrella things. I like to see my friends the pair of robins who live there, and I bring them mealworms from time to time. A lovely girl with flame red hair and impossibly porcelain skin works there on the weekend. She looks fragile, but there is a core of steel there; she has just returned from working in an orphanage in India, and that was a tough environment. She was tempted by offers in the modeling world, but had the good sense to back away from the falseness and bitchiness which she encountered. I like her; she has courage.

Across the road is another café with an open courtyard, offering a vista of the high street. They don’t seem to mind my endless requests for pots of cranberry and raspberry infusion.

Am I really doing nothing? In a way it is an active meditation. I reflect on life a little, but not too much. Mainly I am just learning to let go and be of the moment. New thoughts, new perspectives come. It is doing nothing, and yet doing everything. F. Scott Fitzgerald said: life starts all over when it gets crisp in the fall. That sounds counter intuitive, but I can understand it. And this is how I feel, like I am starting over again. It is an odd feeling.

There is another café nearby. On the windswept side of a Pennines hill there is what is called a “pitch and put” golf course, with a traditional old stone building that served as the office and storage hut for some ropey clubs for hire. I used to walk my beloved dog up there when I was a lad. I never really thought the place beautiful, but I have changed my mind now. The course was neglected and run down for a long time, but recently it has been taken over by a new manager, a powerfully built man, an ex rugby league player. He has steadily worked on the course, mowing and tending. It is hardly Wentworth, but the place has a cared for feel about it, with fresh signs and new flags. It has become quite popular again. The old stone building has been cleaned out, and turned into a simple, but homely café. Despite his menacing build, the manager is clearly a good soul, always ready with a greeting and time to chat, and his wife and rather lovely daughters help to run the café when he is out and about tending to his course. I get the impression he is a happy man, content with his lot. He looks very healthy from his outdoor life.

There are some simple tables and chairs outside when the weather is fine. I can sit and drink tea (strong Yorkshire tea, no faddy fruit stuff here) and watch the crazy and incompetent golfers, the occasional riders and the many happy and cared for dogs whose owners take them to play on the neighbouring big field. The air is very fresh, and there is a view which on a good day can stretch to Wales. The sunsets can be magnificent.

I popped in last Saturday. I had intended to go to the gym, but I decided to slack, and do more doing nothing. So, to the café I went. They were running a coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The daughters had baked amazing cakes (above), and the tiny café was crammed with perhaps twenty visitors. Many had had brought cakes of their own to contribute. It will hardly change the world, and yet it was magnificent. It was a far cry form the hullaballoo and hysteria which I feel surrounds the Beeb’s Children in Need circus. I gave what I could freely. They had hoped to raise £100. They made £211.  Bravo.

Another simple thing I have found the time to enjoy is music. I have become a fan of some people who go by the name of “The Piano Guys”. One hearing of a tune on Classic FM and I was entranced by their style of mashing up classic and modern tunes with considerable skill. As a perusal of their videos on youtube shows, they play not just with considerable virtuosity, but passion, verve, mischief and joy and they make rather fun videos to go with their work. Some people are rather sniffy about their style, regarding them as more showbiz than authentic musicians. I don’t care.

Here are a couple of pieces of their work. It may not to be everyone’s tastes but take five minutes to see if it touches you. One piece (Codename Vivaldi) is for piano and cello. The second (Beethoven’s 5 secrets) is for cello and orchestra.

I wish you a peaceful Sunday.

©Gildas the Monk

25 Oct 19:24

Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Make Mad

by Kevin

There are many great lines Justice Fergus O'Donnell's opinion in R. v. Duncan (2013), which was an otherwise unremarkable case except that the defendant tried to run one of those "sovereign citizen" defenses up the flagpole. That didn't go so well:

Thus it was that the trial began with Mr. Duncan objecting to us proceeding on the basis that I had no jurisdiction over him. Mr. Duncan provided me with an “affidavit of truth”, a rather substantial volume that appeared to me to be the result of somebody doing a Google search for terms like “jurisdiction” and the like and then cobbling them together in such a way that it makes James Joyce’s Ulysses look like an easy read. This hodgepodge of irrelevancies relied upon by Mr. Duncan was one of the misbegotten fruits of the internet. Finding it was a waste of Mr. Duncan’s time; printing it was a waste of trees and my reading it was a waste of my time and public money.

R. v. Duncan

Definitely worth a read. Also added to the Case Law Hall of Fame.

25 Oct 23:56

Fertile Fields

by Molly Moore

Fertile Fields

Naked bottom in field of long grass

“There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.”  ~ Thomas Jefferson Related Posts: Adam’s Apple Sweet Spring, Cummings Lingering Give me shelter Forget The World
23 Oct 15:44

Two more weeks of this...

by Minnesotastan

The "caller ID" no longer works on my office phone, so yesterday when I answered it, I heard "Hi !! This is [politician].  I know everybody hates robocalls, but..." [click]

I have grown not to just despise the politicians, but to hate the process.
23 Oct 11:06

Rage more

by PZ Myers

Chris Kluwe posts on #gamergate. He’s not nice about it.

Dear #Gamergaters,

Do you know why you piss me the fuck off?

Because you’re lazy. You’re ignorant. You are a blithering collection of wannabe Wikipedia philosophers, drunk on your own buzzwords, incapable of forming an original thought. You display a lack of knowledge stunning in its scope, a fundamental disregard of history and human nature so pronounced that makes me wonder if lead paint is a key component of your diet. You think you’re making piercing arguments when, in actuality, you’re throwing a temper tantrum that would embarrass a three-year-old.

The GamerGaters raged. So much hate. But not much else.

Felicia Day posts on #gamergate. She’s sad and regretful about it.

I have been terrified of inviting a deluge of abusive and condescending tweets into my timeline. I did one simple @ reply to one of the main victims several weeks back, and got a flood of things I simply couldn’t stand to read directed at me. I had to log offline for a few days until it went away. I have tried to retweet a few of the articles I’ve seen dissecting the issue in support, but personally I am terrified to be doxxed for even typing the words “Gamer Gate”. I have had stalkers and restraining orders issued in the past, I have had people show up on my doorstep when my personal information was HARD to get. To have my location revealed to the world would give a entry point for a few mentally ill people who have fixated on me, and allow them to show up and make good on the kind of threats I’ve received that make me paranoid to walk around a convention alone. I haven’t been able to stomach the risk of being afraid to get out of my car in my own driveway because I’ve expressed an opinion that someone on the internet didn’t agree with.

Immediately, some GamerGater posted her home address and phone number.

At last it’s slowly beginning to sink in to them, though, that they’ve driven away most of their support.

For someone who’s sick of the abuse, these 8chan threads are pure schadenfreude:


Among the fallen heroes mentioned: Patton Oswalt, Seth Rogen, Felicia Day, William Gibson, Tim Schafer, cartoonist Mariel Cartwright, Joss Whedon, writer Greg Rucka, Wil Wheaton, writer Jim Sterling, John Scalzi, Adam Sessler, Jon Stewart, and the creators of Raspberry Pi, who came out forcefully against #gamergate.

But at least they’ve still got…Adam Baldwin.

I’ve also noticed something on Twitter: any time I mention this awful #gamergate bullshit, I get a flood of dismissive, insulting comments, and I have to exercise the block button frequently. Usually, I’ll take a look at who this person is: and most often, it’s some account with 0-50 followers, a few hundred (at most) tweets, and if I look at their twitter history, it’s all raging about Social Justice Warriors and #gamergate. The channers have been doing a good job of ginning up lots of fake accounts and making noise on the internet, but they’re all Quaker cannons — ignorable.

Now we just have to persuade the atheist movement that these raving anti-feminists are all bark, have no credibility, and are damaging every group they join.

24 Oct 06:10

A Woman's Place Is in the Dojo

by Big Bad Bald Bastard
I don't usually flaunt my blog at other people's websites, but I'm posting a link to the comment threat on Amanda Marcotte's post on the doxxing of Felicia Day. In her piece, Ms Marcotte writes about a depressing trend in all too many "fandoms":

But still, I recognize exactly the phenomenon she’s talking about and it happens to a lot of women who have interests in stuff outside the female ghettos of fashion and domestic arts. (Mine would definitely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, be music fandom.) The desire for camaraderie with your fellow hobbyists outweighs nagging doubts you have that many of the men in your world think you don’t belong or that you deserve to be put in a second class position, forever having to defend your right to be treated like an expert compared to men who are simply assumed to belong. You decide those men are outliers or, if they are relatively quiet about their beliefs, you convince yourself that you’re being paranoid. Hell, if you worry about it out loud, you may even be told you’re paranoid. Often by other women who, like you, are so eager to believe that men welcome your presence that you may overlook evidence that suggests otherwise.

It's infuriating and depressing, so I figured I'd put up a feel-good post to alleviate some of the frustration that many people are feeling in this era of #gamergate foolishness.

Last Saturday, we had a special guest in the dojo to teach our students:

The woman in the blue gi with the blonde ponytail is one of the top-ranked judo players in the world... she won the gold medal in her weight class in the London Olympics (while I'm not posting her name, there aren't too many Olympic gold medal winners, so a little research will show you her stellar record). I snapped a picture of her teaching a bunch of seven-and-under girls zenpo kaiten, or forward-roll breakfalls. She taught four classes for us, boys and girls ranging in age from six to fifteen. After each class, she let the kids dogpile her while touching her gold medal... it was quite a sight to see her jovial face peering out from a passel of children, her smile shining brighter than the medal.

Also in the picture, from left to right: the gent sitting on the windowsill is a good friend of our gold medalist, visiting from London. The gentleman in the white gi next to him is a dear friend I jokingly refer to as "Morocco's George Clooney"- he visited Shanghai on business and a bunch of the locals took him for the real deal. The woman in the red polo shirt is one of our soccer coaches, who hails from Argentina... her daughter is one of the rolling students. The gentleman to the left of our guest Olympian is the father of one of our students. The imposing gent to the right is a dear mentor of mine, also from Morocco ("Berber Badass" would be a good nickname for him). On the uttermost right, that cascade of hair belongs to one of the teenaged counselors who shepherd the kids from activity to activity... I have known this young woman since she was small enough to fit in a peanut shell. I know you're not supposed to play favorites, but it's hard not to, and she has always been close to our hearts. The Italian guy and the Brazilian guy aren't in the picture because they are off to the right sparring. The other Olympic gold medal winner is also off to the side, teaching an adult student. Gentle Jimmy G. from Jersey hasn't arrived yet, he comes in on his lunch break to get his fight on before returning to work.

So there you have it- an amazingly competent, dynamic woman who excels in a largely male milieu of international scope, teaching a bunch of young girls with gusto and humor. The haters can go stuff their precious game controllers up where neither Sol nor any alien sun shines. The good guys want women to be fearless.
23 Oct 15:28

How to Boycott Me, I Mean, REALLY Boycott Me

by John Scalzi

Ah, I see some GamerGaters are whining to Tor that I am being mean to them. Well, good luck with that tactic, kids.

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 23, 2014

So a few days ago, it was suggested to a faction of the hot, pathetic misogynist mess known as GamerGate that launching a boycott of Tor Books was a possible “action op” for them. This was quickly shot down, no doubt in part because the person suggesting it was Theodore Beale, and no one at this point actually gives a crap what he thinks about anything. However, last night I went on another Twitter tear on the subject of GamerGate, and I woke up this morning to a few chuckleheads bleating to Tor about what a terrible person I am, in order to, I don’t know, get Tor to talk to me sternly about having opinions on the Internet, because apparently Tor is my dad. So maybe this push to boycott Tor because of me has legs after all! Hooray!

That said, my takeaway from these furtive attempts to make me shut up about the fact that GamerGate is basically a bunch of terrible human beings being shitty to women, up to and including threatening them and publishing their personal information online in an obvious attempt to silence them is to be just a little bit sad. Not because a few of these human-shaped pieces of ambulatory refuse are trying to do it, but because they’re thinking too small about it.

I mean, seriously, boycotting just Tor Books? Why limit yourself? Sure, it’s the largest publisher of science fiction and fantasy books in North America and possibly the world, but it’s just one imprint of Tom Doherty Associates. There are several other imprints, including Forge, Starscape, Tor Teen and Seven Seas. You should boycott those, too. That’ll show me!

But even then, you’d be thinking too small. Tom Doherty Associates is itself just one appendage of the publishing giant known as Macmillan, with offices in 41 countries! It publishes thousands of books a year! What a target! You should boycott all of Macmillan. Man, I’m quaking in my boots just thinking about it. But even then, it’s small potatoes, for Macmillan is just one part of the mighty Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, with annual sales in the billions of euros. Boycott it all! No doubt all of Stuttgart shall fall into a shambles at the thought.

But even then you are not done, boycotters! For you see, I am crafty and have diversified my revenue stream. I have many publishers and many people I work with. You must punish them all for having me in their midst. All of them. And not just the tiny imprint or sub-company that works with me directly. That’s what a coward would do. And are you a coward? Well, yes, probably, because the tactics of GamerGate have been astoundingly cowardly right from the start. But still! Think big, my friends. Your boycott must not just take out a few targets, it must nuke them all from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

With that in mind, here are your other boycott targets:

In the UK I am published by Gollancz, which is part of Orion Publishing Group, which is in itself part of Hachette, which is part of Lagardère Group. Crush them!

In Germany I am published by Heyne, which is part of Random House, which is itself owned by Penguin Random House, which is jointly owned by Pearson and Bertlesmann. Squish them!

In audio, I am published by Audible, which is owned by Amazon. Surely it is worth giving up your sweet Amazon Prime subscriptions to make Jeff Bezos shake in his chinos!

But wait! We’re still not done. Because as you may know I have TV deals! One is with FX, which is owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, which is part of 21st Century Fox (yes, it’s 21st Century Fox now. Look it up). You will need to boycott it all. Yes, even Fox News. Be strong! It’s for the cause!

Another is with Syfy and Universal Cable Productions, which is part of NBCUniversal, which is itself part of Comcast. So for this one, some of you will have to give up cable, and possibly your Internet connection. Keep your eye on the prize! It will be worth it!

My third TV deal is with Legendary TV, which is part of Legendary Pictures. And you’re thinking, whew, at least they aren’t part of a multinational corporation! True, but they make films that are distributed through a number of film studios, including Warner Bros (basically, all the DC Comics movies) and Universal. They also own both Geek & Sundry and Nerdist Industries. Noooooo! You can’t get your nerd on anymore! Stay focused! Your pain will make victory that much sweeter!

So, in short, in order to effectively punish my business partners for me having thoughts you don’t like, all you need to do is boycott three of the five major US publishers, two of the five major film/television studios (plus selected product of one of the other ones), and the largest single online retailer in the world. Which, well. It will keep you busy, at least.

Which, to be clear, I am fine with. While you are off whining to these corporations about me, perhaps you will be too busy to, you know, threaten death, rape and assault against women who also dare to express thoughts you don’t like. And you know what? I think that’s a fair trade.

So please: If you’re going to boycott a company because of me, at least do it right. Do it big. There are all your targets, laid out for you. Go get ‘em! I’ll be rooting for you, kids!

And in the meantime, just remember this:

If you think threatening women is a legitimate tactic for anything, feel free to stop reading my work. I don't need you or your money.

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 11, 2014

Still true, people. Still true.

23 Oct 11:29

Gremlin Fighter Anthony Culler Aims To Put The “Con” In Congress

by Bette Noir


Texas Tony Culler


SC Candidate TonyCuller

Well, it’s been quite a week for Anthony P Culler.  Culler, a Republican, is challenging Rep Jim Clyburn (D-SC) for South Carolina’s District 6 seat . . .

Clyburn, a popular Democrat in a deep blue district has been serving in Congress since 1993, and as the Assistant Democratic Leader since 2011. He was previously House Majority Whip, serving in that post from 2007 to 2011.

Mr Culler has admitted that this is a David and Goliath match-up.  He is a white male Republican running in a district that was

defined, in the early 1990s, in a deal between state Republicans (mostly white) and Democrats (mostly black) in the South Carolina General Assembly to ensure a majority-black population, known as a majority-minority district. The rural counties of the historical black belt in South Carolina make up much of the district, but it sweeps south to include most of the black precincts in Charleston, and west to include most of the black precincts in Columbia.

Despite the odds, though, Mr Culler has figured out an attention-getting angle to try to juice his chances when the district goes to the polls:

“This is our minority majority district,” Culler said. “It’s the black district. That’s what some people call it. … I’ve got another description for this district, it’s a Christian district.”

“We believe in the way that it’s always been,” Culler continued.

Culler urged voters to turn out on election day and vote for him.

“No matter how many Gremlins there are across this country, we here in the sixth district will stand against it,” Culler said.

Oh.  Did I neglect to mention the Gremlins?  Well, Mr Culler is Gremlin Man who went on quite a Facebook tear a few days back to bolster his Christian Heterosexual Cred with his constituents.  The post was replete with the usual traditional family values, sanctity of marriage, and “God told me to run” yadda yadda.  The Gremlins were an artistic flourish that helped ensure the silly thing went viral.

Mission Accomplished! Mr Culler snagged his 15 minutes of Internet fame and then some. When the opportunity arose, Culler doubled-down with a low-rent video follow-up that made everything just that little bit more skeevy.  The South Carolina Republican Committee wasted no time throwing Culler under the bus and a Libertarian candidate quickly signed on to take advantage of the fact that Culler had sucked all of the air out of Republicans’ slim chances in the Sixth.

But that’s not really why I’m here.  I’ve spent my entire gay life out of the closet, much of it when it was decidedly un-cool.  I’m nearly immune to homophobic silliness in my own life, I just despise the negative effect that it still has on LGBT kids and will fight it forever for that reason.  The fight is decidedly easier these days because your garden variety homophobe is deservedly considered somewhat moronic by a majority of Americans these days.

What bothers me much more is the fact that our Congress seems to be increasingly viewed as a potential sheltered workshop for unintelligent, inexperienced, sometimes pathological miscreants and political dilletantes more than willing to exploit the public trust for their own personal well-being.

Mr Culler, for instance has a quite colorful history, to be blithely presenting himself as a God-fearing man of principle, a leader, a traditional family values exemplar, etc, etc.

Culler doesn’t say much about his educational or professional qualifications for representing his district in the US House of Representatives.  And far be it from me to suggest that an honest, hardworking congressman of integrity needs a diploma or business success to serve the electorate well.  On the other hand, the only well documented facts about Tony Culler’s past indicate that he might be the consummate con-man, assisted by his lovely wife Renee who is no slouch herself in that respect.

Culler’s primary ambition, to date, seems to have been to raise his family without the daily inconvenience of a job.  When the Cullers lost their home in Nacogdoches, TX for non-payment of their mortgage, back in 2009, they did not view it as an unfortunate downturn from which to recover but, rather, a vast governmental conspiracy against them that extended from the local sheriff to the governor’s office.

The Cullers loaded their now-homeless four daughters into their SUV and started asking for donations to help them.  Not to help them get back on their feet, mind you, they were asking for help to fight the “web of corruption” that had singled them out and destroyed their comfortable lives in Texas, where they were able to get by on the proceeds of mineral rights to their property and Mrs Culler’s sporadic employment. 

Then the bottom fell out of natural gas, the proceeds dried up, the Cullers mortgage went into foreclosure, and they were ultimately evicted . . . despite the fact that the neighbor who bought the property at sheriff’s sale tried to help them out of their bind by renting their home back to them.

The Cullers weren’t able to pay that rent because they were unwilling to interrupt their crusade against civic corruption with time-consuming jobs. 

The course they chose instead?  dress up their four young daughters every day, outfit them with protest signs and collection cups, and march them around for hours in the Nacogdoches sun in front of the bank that had foreclosed on their property.  Since the Culler girls are home-schooled, I suspect Mr Culler felt that this operation was a great American learning experience for them.


The Cullers, of course sued all of the “corrupt” officials and the bank involved and enlisted a fool to represent them in court—Anthony P Culler.  They lost every case and eventually left Texas where their support network began to sag under the Cullers’ daily needs, and took themselves back to South Carolina to throw themselves on the mercy of Mrs Culler’s family. That was when it occurred to the Cullers that they might be able to turn their War on Corruption into a paying gig and both decided to run for Congress.

Mrs Culler went first, then quickly crashed and burned with this sort of amazing performance:

At some point, you just have to feel sorry for the poor sane guy trying to interview her.

Undaunted, Mrs Culler declared the interview a triumph in one of her characteristically rambling Facebook stump speeches:

It was a success!

Many of you have asked me about “comments/rumors” that are circulating since I began my campaign for US Congress. I have already been “warned” by strangers that “Texas would come out if I continue” and that even though my husband and I “may be able to handle it but your girls may not”, I have and will continue my campaign. (These people do not know my girls. And they definitely do not know me. These Cullers DO NOT run!) I tell them, to their absolute dismay; the story of the destruction of my family will be coming out! But I will be the one doing it - my way.

You will be shocked to learn how far up the ladder the corruption in this case goes. This story has the potential to change the Republican Nomination for President! Two of the current nominees - Texas Governor Rick Perry and Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann have personally been made aware of the crimes committed against my family. And both have refused to investigate my family’s Constitutional rights being violated!

Here is my theory on why the crimes, committed under color of law, by Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss and his department, can NEVER be investigated. Here is why he will get “away with it”. (Kerss was also the President of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, 254 county sheriff departments, at the time of these crimes!)

If Sheriff Kerss is found guilty of committing crimes under color of law (Felonies), then what happens to ALL the cases/convictions that he has participated in as a law enforcement officer? If he becomes a convicted felon, will new trials need to be ordered? Will convictions be overturned? For how many and at what “cost”? (Is that “cost” higher than the loss of one American family’s freedom and liberty? Not to us it isn’t.)

And, big finish:

Has God ever placed you on a journey that you did not understand OR agree with at the time? There was a reason my family was destroyed in Texas and lost EVERYTHING we owned. (Yes EVERYTHING - baby pictures, Christening gowns, all our children’s clothes/toys/home school books, pets, etc.) The reason was to prepare and strengthen me for the United States Congress. It was to make me PERSONALLY AWARE of the existence of corruption in the government and the destructive power of that corruption.

I believe the new 7th Congressional District of South Carolina was formed for me to represent. This is my home and I returned so I could be elected to represent it. It is God’s will and I will not turn from the enormous task he has placed before me. I readily admit that I do not have a campaign staff or the funding for such an operation. But I do have the ability, education, training, work ethic, and the experience necessary to represent the people of the 7th district. I also have God, my husband, my four daughters, and faith that God will provide the rest. I cannot be beaten.

But, sadly, no.  The electorate, inexplicably thwarting God’s plan, awarded Mrs Culler only 1.5% of the primary vote.

Now it’s Tony’s turn to try his hand at Congress-ing.  Somehow Anthony Culler managed to win the Republican primary for his district, mostly because the district is a Democratic party lock that most Republicans wouldn’t bother with.  We already know he’s not going to win this election but it should be interesting to see what the Cullers’ next scam will be.  For now, at least, it looks like Congress will be spared the Cullers’ Magical Reality.

Even PeeDee Republicans seem to be on to them:


Nevertheless, voters beware this midterm, it’s dangerous out there.

BTW, Mr Cullers, if you’re reading this? God asked me to give you a message: Get a job, take care of your daughters and STFU.  Americans are truly weary of your kind.

23 Oct 00:56

Gamer Felicia Day on Gamergate

by Xeni Jardin
Felicia Day. Photo: Cristina Gandolfo.

Felicia Day. Photo: Cristina Gandolfo.

Gamer and online personality Felicia Day hasn't said much about Gamergate. Today, she opened up on her blog. “Why have I remained mostly silent? Self-protection and fear.” Read the rest

22 Oct 16:01

How To Talk About Paul McCarthy

by Cat Weaver
Not all of us can say as much.

Not all of us can say as much. (via @PuissantLobbyLGBT/Twitter)

What, I ask you, should one expect if one asks artist Paul McCarthy to create a Christmas tree for the place of honor at a renowned, must-attend art fair? Well, it’s Paul McCarthy, so there are only two possible outcomes: a turd or a butt plug.

This year, Paris got a butt plug. A — sah-weeeeet! — whopping, elegantly unembellished, minty green butt plug! Nicer than that gaudy, decked out whore of a tree that New York City erects at Rockefeller Center every year. Even, I’d say, in better taste.

“Of course this work is controversial,” said Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) director Jennifer Flay, “it plays on the ambiguity between a Christmas tree and a plug: this is neither a surprise nor a secret.”

But despite his predictability and rather tasteful, understated delivery, the art world’s most reliably scatological artist managed to shock people with his contribution to FIAC’s “Hors les Murs” (or “Outside the Walls”) sector.

How did that happen?

Artist Paul McCarthy’s gallery coos about the new public work. (via @HauserWirth/Twitter)

Artist Paul McCarthy’s gallery coos about the new public work. (via @HauserWirth/Twitter)

Flash Back to the Previews

In July, Flash Art Online previewed McCarthy’s Chocolate Factory, which would, in October, fill the newly renovated Monnaie de Paris with a giant solo show, and grace Paris’s Place Vendôme with a giant inflatable “Christmas tree.”

The Flash Art story described a “wonderland experience” that “lures” visitors into a “fairytale forest of giant inflatable Christmas trees.”

Without cracking a smile, the article went on to describe an Eyes Wide Shut sort of experience whereby one is drawn by curiosity into a tunnel of increasingly freaky rooms. First “we find a team of confectioners hard at work in a life-size, fully functioning chocolate factory,” and, if we elect to go on after gorging on sweet brown confections, we open doors in a labyrinth of experiences and “a place of endless possibilities” where “reality gives way to the absurd.” The preview was illustrated with an image of a chocolate Santa holding a huge butt plug.

Paul McCarthy's "Buttplug Gnome" in Rotterdam, 2012 (photo by Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic)

Paul McCarthy’s “Butt Plug Gnome” in Rotterdam, 2012 (photo by Hrag Vartanian for Hyperallergic)

The Straight Man Approach

Anyone familiar with McCarthy and equipped with a fully functioning funny bone knows that this is tongue-in-cheek stuff. Just as we knew what those “giant inflatable Christmas trees” would be — after all, we’d seen an example before — we knew what McCarthy thinks of Christmas — his “Santa Claus” in Rotterdam’s Eendrachtsplein Square is popularly known as the “Butt Plug Gnome” — and, similarly, we also knew what “chocolate” would entail.

Yet the grown-ups at Flash Art kept it so serious that most readers likely forgot to take note of the impending plugging of Paris. By the time the pneumatic probe made its stubby appearance alongside the lofty Vendôme Column, we’d all forgotten about it.

That’s the straight man approach to discussing Paul McCarthy. It demonstrates the power of the high-minded to thwart indignity while creating spin for a towering bunghole stretcher.

Those who sell, those who buy, and those who choose what will go on to represent us to future generations and civilizations, those keepers of the cultural keys, know how to keep things clean — no matter how dirty they are. Which is why, dear readers, when it comes to talking about Paul McCarthy, mastering the straight man approach will mark you as a true art world insider.

A Lesson from the Pros

The Flash Art piece was rivaled in sobriety only by FIAC’s own press release, which presented McCarthy as the artist cherry-picked not only to re-open the venerable Monnaie de Paris — which has been closed for renovation since 2011 — but to represent FIAC’s collaboration with Comité Vendôme — the business association for Paris’s most expensive shopping destination — which every year places large-scale works in Place Vendôme.

The humorless press release droned:

An exquisite location with elegant stone façades lining its four sides, the square represents the excellence of craftsmanship in service to art. Here, visitors can discover an exceptional in situ project by Paul McCarthy, in association with the Monnaie de Paris.

The phrase “in situ” alone should have set off a major snicker alert. But buried in a press release full of grand announcements and decorated with lists of power players, it raised no eyebrows at all.

“Funny” Is Just Another Word for “Nothing Left To Lose”

If imagining all that staid architecture sharing space with McCarthy’s “exceptional in situ project” did not make you laugh, good for you: You have already half-mastered the straight man approach!

But there’s another way to talk about Paul McCarthy.

Instagram photo by @phil_a_paname

Instagram photo by @phil_a_paname

Cut to October 2014, when the hilarity of FIAC’s plans became suddenly evident by the looming presence of a giant green butt plug in the revered Place Vendôme. Headlines, tweets using #Vendome or #buttplug or #PlugGate, and Instagram photos of playful tourists lewdly “interacting” with the piece immediately lit up the internet with oafish, down-and-dirty, dime-a-dozen puns.

This is the funnyman approach, marked by puerile vulgarity —and banishment from the market.

Those who wish to court collectors, auction houses, or museums are not allowed to cave into the maddening urge to elbow-nudge viewers and readers. But for those who live in the margins (“Paul McCarthy’s XXXmas Tree Plugs Up Paris,” quipped our own Hrag Vartanian) it’s a release equivalent to drawing a dick in a library book and giggling, red-faced, behind the stacks.

The market-free, dogma-free masses can unapologetically indulge in full-throated hilarity when faced with a brilliantly colored sex toy squatting rudely on the Place Vendôme.

Paul McCarthy's "Brancusi Tree" at Home Alone Gallery in 2012 (photo by Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic)

Paul McCarthy’s “Brancusi Tree” at Home Alone Gallery in 2012 (photo by Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic)

You Can Handle The Truth

The bottom line is this: A professional art speaker will not cave to fatuous cracks about seminal works!

For one of the finest examples of a stiff upper lip at work, get a load of the good folks writing copy for the FIAC website, keeping things civilized:

Towering at almost 25 meters on the Place Vendôme is Paul McCarthy’s “Tree,” a site specific sculpture conceived in relation to his concurrent exhibition Chocolate Factory at the Monnaie de Paris, his first major solo exhibition in Paris. A reference to both modernist sculpture and the iconic Christmas tree of western culture, McCarthy’s sculpture stands proudly to celebrate his presence finally in Paris and alludes to the chocolate figurines his factory produces.

True, sometimes a giant sex toy is just a giant sex toy, but sometimes it is — take it from the artist himself — “more of an abstraction”:

It all started with a joke: Originally I thought that the anal plug was shaped like a Brancusi sculpture. Then I thought that it resembled a Christmas tree. But it’s an abstract work. People who find it offensive call it a plug, but for me it’s more of an abstraction.

22 Oct 17:23

Art High School Censors Student Paintings for “the Protection of Children”

by Benjamin Sutton
John Curtin College of the Arts (photo by @alisonspence)

John Curtin College of the Arts (photo by @alisonspence/Instagram)

Two art students in their final year at the John Curtin College of the Arts in Perth, Western Australia, got an unexpected lesson in institutional politics after their paintings were censored in a student exhibition. The mother of one of the teenage artists, Vicky Manley, says the school removed her daughter’s painting because the administration believes it depicts a fellow student nude and could incite pedophilic behavior in viewers, according to Western Australia Today. Another student was told that her artwork, which depicts two women kissing, would be turned to face the gallery wall at times when young children might see the work.

“My daughter accessed several images, as well as her imagination to create the artwork … It is not an actual portrait of the young girl that the principal is referring to. If it were then it would have been titled as such,” Manley told WAT.

The school’s administration claims that its decision to remove the work by Manley’s daughter from the forthcoming student exhibition, slated to run November 4–7, has nothing to do with nudity per se, but specifically the painting’s apparent portrayal of another student, nude, in a figurative style that makes her instantly recognizable. The exact nature of the other targeted artwork’s offense is unclear, but according to a petition calling for the works to be reinstated, “both artworks depicted some form of nudity and alluded to female sexuality.”

“This is certainly not an issue of art censorship, we simply cannot display images of a recognizable person who is naked and underage,” the school’s principal, Mitchell Mackay, told the Guardian Australia. “Both of these paintings are outstanding pieces of work by our students, but in both cases there are particular circumstances we have had to consider to ensure they do not put children at risk.”

The second work will be turned to face the gallery wall when the Curtin Theatre — in whose foyer the exhibition is being held — hosts performances of the Disney musicals The Little Mermaid and Pinocchio. Mackay told WAT that the decision to censor his students’ work was made “purely with the protection of children in mind.”

22 Oct 14:37

A Performance Artist’s Absurd Anatomical Odyssey

by Iris Cushing
Dynasty Handbag performing 'Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey' at BAM (all photos by Rebecca Smyne, courtesy BAM)

Dynasty Handbag performing ‘Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey’ at BAM (all photos by Rebecca Smyne, courtesy BAM)

Nine o’clock: the stage lights dim and a spotlight illuminates a stuffed “hero” sandwich the size of a small sofa. The opening melody of Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero” — hit theme song from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome — fills BAM’s Fishman Space. A face peeks out from between the parted curtains, and then a vividly strange figure appears, dancing in a flesh-toned spandex bodysuit to a wave of delighted laughter. So begins Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey, Dynasty Handbag’s first evening-length performance piece, which premiered this past Friday night.

The performance persona of artist Jibz Cameron, Dynasty Handbag possesses a physical humor that’s instantaneous and irresistible. It wasn’t her gigantic fannypack or hairspray-tortured coif that made the audience laugh; the smart absurdity of Dynasty’s gestures and facial expressions have an effect akin to Charlie Chaplin’s slapstick, mixed with the gorgeous grotesquerie of the late, great Divine — and a nimbleness that is all Cameron’s own. Soggy Glasses, a feminist-queer interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey, is the most recent of in a series of Cameron’s work that re-envisions canonical male epics (Hell in A Handbag took on Dante’s Inferno; Vertitigo skewed Hitchcock’s tough-guy detective story through an absurdist female lens). Soggy Glasses satirizes both Homer’s master narrative and the third-wave feminist suspicion that leads Cameron to critique it. The subtlety of this critique-on-critique is part of what makes her work so funny.

Dynasty Handbag performing 'Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey' at BAM

Dynasty Handbag performing ‘Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey’ at BAM

The show consists of Dynasty conversing with animated characters on a video screen — all of which are drawn and voiced by Cameron — as she makes a perilous journey through her own internal organs. Her vessel is the paper container that formerly held the giant hero sandwich. The creatures and places she encounters include a cave guarded by a hipster would-be cyclops (“I’m not a cyclops, I just present that way”), an angel guide in the form of a disembodied Yoko Ono, and a lisping snake who runs an artist’s residency in her colon (the “Artist Colon-y”). The story is dense with pop culture references, many of them decidedly masculine: at one point, Cameron narrates Dynasty’s progress in a fake Werner Herzog accent; at another, “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath knells our anti-hero’s imminent failure at making a great work of art. This thicket of references brings up a question: how much of an artist’s sensibility is informed by the culture that she lives in, and how much of it grows from her own organic strangeness? In Soggy Glasses, Cameron’s singular oddity interweaves freely with popular media, to pleasurably disorienting effect.

Dynasty Handbag performing 'Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey' at BAM (click to enlarge)

Dynasty Handbag performing ‘Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey’ at BAM (click to enlarge)

Humor is famously one of the most difficult valences to define, perhaps because much of what we find hilarious hinges on real suffering. Dynasty ultimately fails in Soggy Glasses to make the heroic return that Odysseus made, but she triumphs in her own failure with a fist-pumping reprise of “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” Throughout the performance, she meditates on her own depression, loneliness, and hopelessness. These reflections serve self-mythologizing and self-parodying purposes, but they also speak to an authentic experience of pain. Cameron’s ventriloquism put me in mind of Robin Williams, whose recent death is an example of the darkness that often accompanies comic genius. Dynasty’s tacit examination of suffering allowed me, as an audience member, to trust her while facing the lived experience of despair. This gave the comedy a depth that lasted after the laughter had died away.

I think of Dynasty’s theater-of-the-self as a solid 21st-century evolution of the camp sensibility defined by Susan Sontag in her well-known 1964 essay on the subject. Cameron’s seamless performance bears all of the wit, seduction, and extravagance that Sontag cited as necessary for the elusive creation of camp, but she breaks from Sontag’s dictum that camp be “disengaged, depoliticized — or at least apolitical.” Cameron’s handling of contemporary politics — around gender specifically — reveals the true absurdity of political and social oppression, without ignoring how high the stakes really are.

Dynasty Handbag performing 'Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey' at BAM

Dynasty Handbag performing ‘Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey’ at BAM

In the piece’s climactic penultimate moment, the capsizing of Dynasty’s sandwich-boat is dramatized by a clip from the blockbuster The Perfect Storm. Cameron pauses in the midst of the catastrophe to note that Linda Greenlaw, the female swordfishing captain, is portrayed in the film primarily through her codependent love relationship with “caretaking George Clooney.” This is one of numerous instances of Cameron showing the elisions of real female heroism that happen in pop culture texts — and if they happen in pop culture, they certainly happen in other realms. The last 50 years of feminist and queer performance art, music, film, and literature have given us many individuals who call out these elisions with intelligent humor, from John Waters to Bikini Kill to Wayne Koestenbaum to Big Freedia. If Soggy Glasses is any indication, Dynasty Handbag is an important force in the visioning of what we, as a culture, consider avant-garde, heroic, and hilarious.

Soggy Glasses: A Homo’s Odyssey took place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Pl, Fort Greene, Brooklyn) on October 17 as part of the performance art showcase Brooklyn Bred.

18 Oct 17:11


20 Oct 13:27

Man convicted over "illegal" cartoons

by Rob Beschizza
20 Oct 20:09

Realistic cactus cupcakes

by Xeni Jardin


From Alana Jones-Mann, a baker, culinary artist and DIY enthusiast in Brooklyn, cupcakes that look like miniature cacti. They're so cute, they're even planted in crushed graham cracker soil.

Read the rest

20 Oct 21:09

Vultures circle GamerGate

by Matt Binder
The mainstream media finally discovered the Internet's latest subculture of hostile, cynical, easily-led youngsters. Matt Binder on the narcissists, grifters and creeps arriving in its wake. Read the rest
19 Oct 14:24

Sunday Service

by syrbal-labrys

Well, such as it is.  I am apparently not allowed to do a dance of seven veils and demand decapitation of those who arouse my ire.  So, again, with achy fingers, I give you images…remember, we got here by having not enough people vote.  Do something about that next month, ok?


Oh, and btw?  Fuck Scott Walker. With flaming pineapples. Now THERE is a job I would do for $7.25 per hour.


Well, then, let’s let those exalted bastards get down in the cheap seats with the rest of the country, ok?


Filed under: Life, Politics Tagged: asshattery, economy, gop lies, labor rights, minimum wage, vote!, wages
19 Oct 14:01

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian
Hijack Norman Rockwell's The Connoisseur from his famous Saturday Evening Post cover where the figure is looking at a Jackson Pollock painting, and have him admire GIFs. This is how the Gif Connoisseur Tumblr blog was born. (via

Hijack Norman Rockwell’s “The Connoisseur” (1961) from his famous Saturday Evening Post cover where the figure is looking at a Jackson Pollock painting, and have him admire GIFs. This is how the Gif Connoisseur Tumblr blog was born. (via

This week, an art project asks people to give away their data for a cookie, the first web browser turns 20, a child befriends Siri, slowing down in museums, the smell of old books, tea propaganda, and more.

 This past week was the 20th anniversary of the release of Netscape Navigator, which was the first commercial web browser. Its original press release included these bullet points:

Mosaic Communications’ network navigator achieves its dramatic performance improvements through new capabilities such as:

  • Continuous document streaming, enabling users to interact with documents while they are still being downloaded rather than waiting for the entire document to load.
  • Multiple, simultaneous network accesses, allowing several documents or images to be downloaded simultaneously.
  • Native support for the JPEG image format.

 One art project asks people if they would give away personal data for a real-life cookie:

Participants couldn’t be certain that Puno wasn’t a flagrant identity thief planning to leak selfies. But they made a bet that she was what she seemed to be: a bright young Brooklyn artist making a well-intentioned point. Her project would have been more daring, and perhaps more artistically complete, if she’d put everything online, posing the question of who would be at fault if someone made nefarious use of the information.

 A bizarre story of how a boy with autism befriended Apple’s Siri:

Siri can be oddly comforting, as well as chummy. One friend reports: “I was having a bad day and jokingly turned to Siri and said, ‘I love you,’ just to see what would happen, and she answered, ‘You are the wind beneath my wings.’ And you know, it kind of cheered me up.”

 Maurice Berger explores LaToya Ruby Frazier’s “Notion of Family“:

Ms. Frazier, who teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was inspired by Gordon Parks’s idea of using the camera as a “weapon” of choice against racism, intolerance and poverty. She does not pretend to speak for African-Americans or even Braddock’s black community in this project. Instead, she typically photographs herself and her mother and grandmother, three generation of women whose “lives parallel the rise and fall of the steel mill industry,” and who endured despite “thirty years of disinvestment and abandonment by local, state and federal governments.”

 Reconsidering the “Broken Windows” theory that the NYPD so depends on to justify their policing:

When “Broken Windows” was published, in 1982, tax revenues in New York were shrinking at an alarming rate and the city’s ability to maintain itself was in doubt. In 1980, the population had fallen to 7,071,639, a drop of about 800,000 from ten years earlier and around where the city’s population had been in 1930. Crime by blacks—not the collapse of local manufacturing or the flight of middle-class families to the suburbs—was popularly perceived to be the primary cause.

This racial perception is no less prevalent today. The most comprehensive study to date on the roots of crime found that the central factor in how people perceive the safety of a neighborhood is not disorder or even the presence of boarded-up stores and abandoned buildings, but the number of African-Americans (and to a lesser extent Hispanics) who live there. This perception was true for blacks and whites alike.4 The link is ingrained in the American psyche. When we criticize the police for racial prejudice, we are decrying a condition that is bigger than the police, a prejudice that we may share ourselves.

 The age-old question of slowing down in a museum:

Most people want to enjoy a museum, not conquer it. Yet the average visitor spends 15 to 30 seconds in front of a work of art, according to museum researchers.

… Indeed, a number of museums now offer “slow art” tours or days that encourage visitors to take their time … sometimes you get more for the price of admission by opting to see less.

… Previous research, including a study led by Stephen Kaplan at the University of Michigan, has already suggested that museums can serve as restorative environments. And Daniel Fujiwara at the London School of Economics and Political Science has found that visiting museums can have a positive impact on happiness and self-reported health.

 Every wonder why old books have a particular aroma? Galley Cat has your answer:


 A PDF catalogue accompanying the Art Post-Internet exhibition, curated by Karen Archey and Robin Peckham for the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing during spring 2014, is finally available online. I’ll probably have more to say about this at a latter time.

 We often associate tea with India, but did you know that it took a British propaganda campaign to get Indians to drink chai?

Tea might seem to be India’s best-loved beverage, but its popularity is actually the result of a careful propaganda effort. Like Christmas and diamonds, tea consumption is among the world’s more successful advertising campaigns.

… Tea plantations in India were initially meant to produce tea for foreign consumers. When tea consumption in Britain and the US began to stagnate around the turn of the 20th century, the British, ever the opportunists, decided to look to India to expand their markets.

The only problem was that Indians were extremely reluctant consumers of the combination of sugar, boiled leaves, water and milk.

In 1903, the British government established a propaganda unit, at first called the Tea Cess Committee, that was meant to propagate tea consumption. This board was funded by the proceeds of a tax on the export of tea. The government neatly renamed this as the Indian Tea Market Expansion Board in 1937.

 A short history of Fire Island architectural modernism and its distinct style (emphasis theirs):

It was, essentially, the antithesis of the suburban ideal: no cars, no carefully maintained lawns, no fences—just meandering paths that took you from the boardwalk to the front door. Gifford, who often talked his wealthy clients into building houses with a smaller footprint, is quoted by his biographer, Christopher Rawlins, as saying, “Someday we will learn to live with nature, instead of living on nature.”

 The YouTube channel of the New York City Department of Records is a treasure trove of strange video, including:

 Why do so many gay men hate camp men?

There is a growing resistance to the straight-acting gay man. “Masc” is just another mask and the straight-acting gay man is just that – an actor. The bromosexual chooses his clothes as carefully as any drag queen; his mannerisms are as studied, his voice as carefully modulated. He is trying to pass. But so is the straight man. It’s just that over centuries all his careful nurturing has been naturalised. He is the norm but he is not natural.

 A man and his hummingbird “pet” (via Colossal):

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

18 Oct 02:49

ostolero: samurott: why do gamers need a gate anyway



why do gamers need a gate anyway


19 Oct 22:55

Men’s Rights Activists: Most gullible people in the world, or most gullible people in the universe?

by David Futrelle
If you believe this, a career in Men's Rights Activism might be for you!

If you believe this, a career in Men’s Rights Activism might be for you!

So I was idly perusing Janet “JudgyBitch” Bloomfield’s Twitter yesterday, and I came across an alarming tweet. It seemed as though Bloomfield had somehow penetrated the 47 levels of security protecting the Feminist HIgh Council to discover incontrovertible evidence of Operation Wicked Succubus. You know, the feminist plan to eliminate all men (except for me).

Lol! Comparing feminists to Nazis is just so weak! #KillAllMen #WomenAgainstFeminism

— JudgyBitch (@BloomfieldJanet) October 18, 2014

Her followers were aghast:


And naturally one of them brought up #GamerGate.


There were a few others, but you get the idea.

It never occurred to any of them to, you know, try to find out just who the bald man advocating killing all men was. Or who exactly he was talking to.

So I decided to do some serious investigative journalism to see what I could uncover. I typed out “‘eliminate men as a gender’ security” into a little known internet “search engine” called Google, and boldly clicked on the first result.


This led me to a Tweet with a URL in it. Bravely, I clicked on that URL and found myself looking at a video of a presentation at something called Monitorama PDX 2014 — clearly the code name for one of the Feminist Conspiracy’s conventions.

I looked it up in Google and discovered a web page for the event, which had been held in May. It was described as an “An Open Source Monitoring Conference & Hackathon.”

Ah, clearly a clever Feminist code name.

And then I decided to look up the name of the speaker: James Mickens. Turns out the guy works at Microsoft, one of the companies at the center of the Misandrist Conspiracy. Mickens is also the author of a number of papers, with titles like “Pivot: Fast, Synchronous Mashup Isolation Using Generator Chains” and “Mugshot: Deterministic Capture and Replay for JavaScript Applications.”

Obviously, some high level feminist theorizing.

Then I decided to watch the video. And I was shocked!

Because it wasn’t a speech about killing all men after all. It wasn’t even a feminist speech. No, it seemed instead to be a highly technical talk about internet security issues, illustrated with a lot of silly slides. Like this:



And this:


I must confess that I didn’t get the overwhelming majority of his jokes. But he audience seemed to find these slides, and much of what he said, hilarious. So if you ever need to hire a comedian who can joke about Synchronous Mashup Isolation Using Generator Chains, Mickens is your guy.

So where does the whole “kill all men” thing come from?

Well, I skipped ahead a bit in the video until I found a section in which Mickens talked about the dumb things people do that can undermine even the most sophisticated security setup.

His example: gullible, horny men who are tricked into “friending” hackers on Facebook posing as hot babes — even when there are pretty obvious indications that the hot babes aren’t really hot babes at all.

Things like: saying they graduated from Central University, even though there is no school by that name in the US, or spelling the name of their profession wrong.



These are all good clues, he said, that the hot babe you just friended on facebook was really this guy:



Given that men are regularly duped with simple tricks that play on their horniness and gullibility, Mickens joked, maybe the real goal for people trying to design secure systems should be the elimination of all men.


So that’s where the slide comes from.

And by the way, that whole bit of his killed — not as in “killed all men” but as in “got giant laughs from the mostly male audience.” Expecially the part about killing all men.

If you want to see the whole bit, starting with Mary and ending with “eliminate men as a gender,” it starts at around 20:40 in the video.

Men’s Rights Activists: more gullible than guys who friend Mary from Central University on Facebook.

NOTE TO EXTREMELY LITERAL-MINDED MRAS: That bit about the feminist plot to kill all men (except me) at the start of this post was a joke. Feminists don’t really intend to kill all men (except me).

Or do they?

20 Oct 01:00

Ageism, ageism!

by stabbity

Recently Miss Pearl wrote an excellent rant about douchebags who try whine and cry about not being allowed into age restricted munches, which you should absolutely read. To very briefly summarize her point, if you know perfectly goddamn well that the rules of an event exclude you and you try to force your way in anyway, you have just conclusively proven that you are an asshole who will ignore the rules to get what they want.

Following the rules at a kinky event is vitally important because doing so signals that you give a shit. When you show up to an event you aren’t welcome at, you are proving that you cannot be trusted to follow an extremely simple rule. This naturally leads people to wonder if you would give a shit if they used their safeword, or told you they didn’t want you to penetrate any of their orifices, or that their hand is going numb and they need the ropes loosened. If I have to wonder that about a person, I don’t want them anywhere remotely fucking near me.

It doesn’t even matter what the rules of the event are or how unfair you believe they are. There is simply no way to show up at an event you aren’t welcome at without looking like a tremendous asshole. And if you’re going to try to convince anyone you didn’t know you weren’t welcome, just fucking stop. All you’re proving at that point is that you’re too stupid to read the rules. Munches with any sort of attendance restriction, whether it’s under 35s only or female subs only, are reliably very clear about who is welcome. This is because you are not the first special fucking snowflake who tried to get in. You can disagree, you can tell all of your friends what a big Meaniepants McPoopyhead the organizer is, but you cannot claim the rules weren’t clearly stated. Protip: proving that you’re too stupid to actually read the rules is not much more confidence inspiring than proving that you just don’t care about the rules.

As for the idiots who cry about ageism, I have a question for you:

How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot? Imagine that the vast majority of people at the all ages munches were under 25. Would you maybe feel the least bit out of place going to an event like that if you were over 35? Might you start thinking that it would be nice to have an event where you could talk with people who understood when you said you had to get home and pay the babysitter, or that you couldn’t go to that awesome weekend conference because the roof needs to be repaired?

Oh, you don’t have anything to say? I’m shocked.

My local TNG group doesn’t have any hard and fast age limits, but it is intended for people 18 – 35. I’m only 31, and I’m already starting to wonder why on earth a 35+ year old would even want to go to a TNG munch. The people who go to that munch are perfectly lovely and the organizers are personal friends of mine, but it’s getting hard for me to relate to people in their early 20s. It’s been a long time since I had to worry about final exams or the price of textbooks (which are completely fucked up), and I feel like a complete asshole bitching about the job that pays me more than enough to live on to people who are staring down the barrel of years of debt.

Also, I would be shocked to hear of a TNG munch that didn’t give people who are just over the maximum age a little bit of wiggle room. I’m certainly too lazy to immediately throw people out on their 36th birthday. For that matter, if you’re there supporting an under 35 friend or partner who didn’t want to go by themselves, I would be very surprised if you weren’t welcome as long as you made an effort to behave yourself.

On the other hand, if you’re 39 (for example) and you want to hang out with people in their late teens/early 20s, I really do have to question your motives. Sure, it’s possible that you’re new to the scene, want to hang out with other people who are probably new (note that 18-35 munches don’t necessarily assume that you’re new, just that you want to hang out with people roughly your own age) and for some weird reason think that spending time with people in their early 20s won’t be awkward, but sad to say it’s more likely that people your own age won’t take your bullshit.

Before people flip their shit, please pay attention to the fact that I did not say that people over the age of 35 are inherently creepy and bad. I said that people over the age of 35 who want to go to a munch specifically for 18-35 year olds are sketchy as fuck. If you are over 35 and would never dream of crashing a munch where you aren’t welcome, you’re golden! If you are attracted to younger people but don’t want to creep them out by disregarding simple rules, you’re great! If you love the idea of “corrupting” someone young and innocent, I promise there are plenty of young, “innocent” people who jerk off to the idea of being “corrupted” by a bad, bad, <gender of their choice>. They might even play with you if you put that giant red flag down and start acting like a decent human being.

18 Oct 21:50

Adam’s Apple

by Molly Moore

Adam’s Apple

Woman picking apples in sexy socks

“Woman is at once apple and serpent.” ~ Heinrich Heine Related Posts: Fertile Fields Sweet Spring, Cummings Lingering Give me shelter Forget The World
19 Oct 00:06

Savile – the Mail on Sunday Investigation.

by Anna Raccoon

How Savile’s niece’s demand for compensation led to police fraud probe: Her own daughter says story is false…how many more of the 211 claims for vast payments will police investigate?
  • Caroline Robinson claimed great-uncle Savile abused her in front of family
  • In 2011 gave TV and newspaper interviews following paedophile’s exposure
  • But family members say ‘there is not a chance in this world’ her story is true
  • Now police are investigating other Savile compensation scheme claimants 
  • Many of the 211 claims are vague with history not always checking out 


PUBLISHED: 21:20 GMT, 18 October 2014 | UPDATED: 23:23 GMT, 18 October 2014

Conflict: Caroline Robinson, the great-niece of Savile has had her claims of abuse challenged by her own family
 Conflict: Caroline Robinson, the great-niece of Savile has had her claims of abuse challenged by her own family

Detectives have launched a criminal inquiry into suspected fraud over claims of sex abuse by Jimmy Savile, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The extraordinary development centres on allegations by Savile’s own great-niece, Caroline Robinson, who claims she was sexually abused by him as a child – and is seeking thousands of pounds in compensation.

But following inquiries by this newspaper, police in West Yorkshire have confirmed they have now launched a probe. And both West Yorkshire and detectives from Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree have said they would investigate other claims if fraud were suspected.

Some 211 people came forward claiming compensation after alleged abuse by the DJ, who died in 2011. The following year, a TV documentary exposed his predatory behaviour, opening a floodgate of claims.

An engagement party at a luxury venue in Leeds in 1978. The bride-to-be – who, unusually enough, is both pregnant and only 15 – is asked by her mother to take some food to the disc jockey, her famous ‘Uncle Jimmy’ Savile, who’s playing the hits in his booth next to the heaving dancefloor.

The girl shudders at the request because three years earlier, when she was just 12, Savile sexually abused her in front of numerous relatives at a family gathering. But she’s keen to please her mother, and so she obeys – only to be assaulted all over again, this time much more seriously.

It’s dark and noisy. No one sees his attack and no one hears her protests. ‘He cornered me; I was trapped,’ she would tell a reporter years later. ‘I can still summon up the smell of him; his cigars and a sweet, sickly girls’ perfume. When it was over, I ran outside. I remember being sick. Then I went into the hotel toilets and scrubbed myself.’

In the long, posthumous charge sheet against Jimmy Savile, this depraved case stands out: an account of his abuse of his own great-niece, Caroline Robinson.

Now 51, she gave TV and newspaper interviews in 2012, after the documentary that first exposed Savile as a paedophile.

But an investigation by The Mail on Sunday has revealed that her story conflicts with other evidence – and in this is not alone: so far as it is possible to check other claims being made by Savile’s alleged victims, some may also be questionable.

At least five members of Mrs Robinson’s close family say she is lying, including her daughter, Samantha Smith. Samantha has even accused her mother of making a fraudulent claim for compensation, and submitted a formal complaint to police.

Mrs Robinson’s brother, Martin Perry, adds ‘there is not a chance in this world’ that her story of being abused by Savile while sitting on his knee in front of many witnesses aged 12 was true. As for the engagement party, ‘it never happened’.

Mrs Smith, 26, a school science cover supervisor, said: ‘She’s made out like she was trying to protect me from him. It was the exact opposite.’ When she was 13, she said, her mother made her take a day off school to go to Savile’s brother Vincent’s funeral – purely so that she would meet Jimmy.

‘She was saying, “There he is, go and talk to him, he’s got loads of money”. His money and fame were the only reasons she made me go the funeral of a man I’d never met.’

Her police statement concludes: ‘I reject all of Caroline’s claims as nothing more than a calculated lie in order to obtain money fraudulently.’

Last night, Geoff Dodd, West Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Constable, revealed police were beginning an inquiry into whether Mrs Robinson’s claim is bogus.

She has previously denied her family’s allegations, but last night did not return requests for comment.

Mrs Robinson has waived her anonymity by giving interviews, so it is possible to check what she says. Legal restrictions make investigating claims by others who say Savile abused them extremely difficult.

Detectives have launched a criminal inquiry into suspected fraud over claims of sex abuse by Jimmy Savile.

However, inquiries by this newspaper have revealed:

  • Mrs Robinson’s compensation claim is one of 211 filed under a scheme set up by the executors of Savile’s will, National Westminster Bank, and the law firm it has engaged to run it, Osborne Clarke.
  • All aspects of these further claims are supposed to be totally secret, but many refer to events and times – for example, screenings of Top Of The Pops – which would appear to be impossible. The way the scheme works means they are subject to only the most cursory scrutiny.
  • The lawyers who represent claimants will be paid between £11,000 and £16,000 for every claim they process. Under the scheme’s fixed ‘tariff’ of damages and legal fees, this means the lawyers will be paid up to ten times as much as victims. Next month, the scheme will be challenged in the Court of Appeal.
  • The fees going to Osborne Clarke will take precedence over all other calls on Savile’s fast-shrinking estate. They have already taken £500,000 and submitted bills for a further £200,000 – still only a fraction of the sum they will eventually be due.
  • What is left of the Savile estate is currently valued at about £3 million, and the payment of these fees will empty the pot. The only genuine victims likely to receive compensation are those abused at NHS hospitals or the BBC: in those cases, the burden will be transferred from the estate to tax and licence-fee payers. But this applies to less than half the claimants. The others will probably get nothing.


THE 2012 documentary that destroyed Savile’s reputation focused on allegations that he assaulted girls during visits he made to Duncroft, a secure Approved School in Surrey for teenage girls.

In the programme’s wake, more former Duncroft girls came forward, and at least 14 are now claiming compensation under the scheme. Some say Savile abused them when they were taken from Duncroft to recordings of his BBC TV shows.

Anonymity rules mean that most cannot be identified.

But, like Mrs Robinson, former Duncroft inmate Bebe Roberts went public.

She said in a 2012 interview that Savile assaulted her when she was 15 in 1965: ‘If you were walking down the corridor he would come up close and touch you inappropriately… He always came when we were getting ready for bed. There were girls in there who were quite terrified of him.’

Ms Roberts’s claims surprised her former room-mate, Susanne Cameron-Blackie. Now a lawyer and mental health expert, Ms Cameron-Blackie writes a blog about the Savile case under the name Anna Raccoon. She said: ‘I was staggered by her interviews, for the simple reason that in 1965, Jimmy Savile did not come near Duncroft. We never saw him.’

Yesterday, Ms Roberts said: ‘I’m sticking by my story. I will never say anything more about it.’ She said she had not claimed compensation.

This newspaper has uncovered evidence that Jimmy Savile did not visit Duncroft until early in 1974, when his name first appears in its visitors’ book – so casting doubt not only on Ms Roberts, but on the allegations of four women who have made compensation claims, because they say he abused them before this date.

The Mail on Sunday interviewed the woman responsible for Savile’s first visit to Duncroft. Susan – she has asked us not to publish her surname – revealed: ‘I met him on a weekend leave in late 1973.

‘My mother was managing a country club. There was a reception for police officers, and she needed a waitress, so asked me to fill in.’

The result was that Susan, who looked older than her years, was serving a group of detectives and their friend Savile.

He asked her to visit him at the flat he used at Broadmoor Hospital the next day.

They kissed, but she says that when he discovered she was only 15, he ceased intimate contact.

Later she begged her mother, Sheila, to ask Duncroft’s head, Margaret Jones, if Savile could visit. Sheila later confirmed she did so. Ms Jones – 93 but still mentally sharp – told the same story: ‘I never knew Savile until Susan’s mother asked if he could come and brought him there in 1974. I said Yes because I thought it would be good for the girls.’

The Savile compensation scheme was first advertised in national newspapers. Claims are checked by a small group of ‘scrutineers,’ made up of members of Savile’s family, a few friends and former colleagues.

They are prevented from discussing claims so it’s impossible to establish their veracity.

The task is still harder because the police, who seized Savile’s diaries that recorded his movements for more than 20 years, say they have ‘lost’ them.

But it is clear that many of the allegations being processed are vague. An analysis prepared for the Court of Appeal reveals that out of 211 claimants, eight say an incident of abuse took place at some time in a period lasting ten years or more. Eighty say an incident occurred in a period of between two and ten years. Sixty-one specify a year, and 62 both a year and a season.

There are claims by people who say they were assaulted at recordings of Top Of The Pops before it started in 1964, and others by those who describe assaults at the BBC TV Centre in London at recordings of programmes which were, in fact, filmed elsewhere.

The Savile compensation scheme was first advertised in national newspapers following the sex abuse scandal

One claimant described an assault by Savile in 1945, stating that he was a manager at a Mecca Ballroom. In 1945, Savile was 19 and a ‘Bevin boy’ miner.

Most of the claimants – 174 – are represented by a team from law firm Slater & Gordon, led by solicitor Liz Dux. She said she ‘cannot be sure there are no fraudulent claims’, though she said she has rejected claims which seemed improbable.

She also admitted that many claimants might never receive a meaningful payment: ‘They are going through an awful lot of pain in reliving their ordeals for a tiny monetary gain.’

The scheme’s tariff sets eight separate compensation bands: victims who were touched over their clothing should get £1,500, rising to £7,500 for those assaulted under their clothing, and a maximum £40,000 who were raped.

Ms Dux said most of her clients’ alleged abuse was at the lower end of the scale, so that they would be due less than £10,000 – or in other words, less than the £11,000 to £16,000 due to claimants’ lawyers like her under the scheme’s fixed legal fees, and in some cases, much less.

But she insisted: ‘The scheme was drawn up to keep legal costs to a minimum.’

However, the sums due to NatWest’s lawyers Osborne Clarke – who have appointed a team of barristers to assess all the claims, adding still more to their costs – would likely soon render the estate insolvent.

When that happened, Ms Dux said, ‘we will not be paid, and nor can the victims. If there’s not enough money left, the court will decide how to divide what’s left. Osborne Clarke will take precedence.’

The scheme is being challenged in the Court of Appeal by the trustees of Jimmy Savile’s charitable trust, to which he left almost all his estate.

Jo Summers, the trust’s solicitor, who is working on the case pro bono, said: ‘The money should go to the bona fide claimants. A scheme where the lawyers get more than the claimants cannot be right.

‘The level of scrutiny NatWest/Osborne Clarke are applying to the claims is ludicrously low – it will be almost impossible to tell which claims are genuine and which are not.’

Osborne Clarke and NatWest refused to comment.

A BBC spokesman said it would deal with claims where appropriate, but could not discuss any details.

Although she would not respond to this newspaper, Caroline Robinson has earlier insisted on her Facebook page: ‘My so-called family are trying to stop me telling the truth… I have told the truth, it’s a pity certain people can’t handle the truth.’

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Edited by Ms Raccoon to add: As a result of the hard work that went into the making of this article – Detectives in West Yorkshire and London have launched a criminal inquiry into suspected fraud over claims of sex abuse by Jimmy Savile.

Ms Raccoon is currently just south of Paris en route to hospital for her 3 month scan – so if there is more than one link in your comment it is likely to be stuck in moderation for some time; I doubt that I will be back before Tuesday.

A tip of the Raccoon tail to David Rose for all his hard work – he has done a superb job validating this story and I salute his courage in standing tall in ‘Fleet Street’ (as was!) where others have hidden behind corporate security blankets….never let it be said that there are no proper investigative journalists left…

My original post from July 2013 on the Caroline Robinson story is HERE.

19 Oct 01:10

Some Roles Can Be Deadly

by AddictionMyth

What makes a great actor?  One important skill is the ability to believe the part.  Actors sometimes practice roles for months to make their performance more authentic.  However, what happens when an actor plays a drug addict?  What happens when they go  around trying to convince themselves they have a disease of the brain that can kill them?

corey cor2

Philip Seymour Hoffman: In Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, he plays a drug addict embezzler.  He died of a heroin overdose soon after attending AA.

Robin Williams: In the TV series Crazy Ones, he plays an alcoholic advertising exec. “I’ve been to rehab in wine country.”  Killed himself a day after attending AA.

Corey Monteith: In McCanick he plays a drug addicted street hustler – anything for a $50 fix.  He had recently gotten out of rehab at Betty Ford and killed himself after attending an AA meeting.

River Phoenix: Drug addicted hustler in My Own Private Idaho.  Died of “acute multiple drug intoxication” including heroin and cocaine in 1993.

Heath Ledger: Played a heroin addict in Candy.  Died from a mix of drugs while playing the Joker in Batman.

Actors more than anyone have the ability to magnify a small craving into a monumental obsession.  They are especially vulnerable during rough patches in their life, if they feel angry or upset about something.  And then they start taking drugs and feel the need to overdo it.  It’s like watching yourself in a movie.  You are powerless to intervene.

Most of us experience setbacks, frustrations, and humiliations.  But we don’t think we’re powerless so we survive.

Odds are that a great actor playing a drug addict doesn’t have much time left.  Especially if they’ve been to AA/12 Steps ‘treatment’, as many of these actors had just before they self-destructed.

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19 Oct 01:24

#GamerGate: a Primer by Sly

by bspencer

Hope LGM frequenter, Sly doesn’t mind being a front-pager tonight. I just want everyone to see his great summation of GamerGate:

Here’s a basic but somewhat detailed summation:

      • Most people who have been on-line long enough get to know about the various self-identifications that form the loose confederation of Organized On-Line Misogyny: Your Red Pillers, your Slymepitters, your MRAs, your Incels, your PUAs, your MGTOWers, etc. Though they differ in the details of their reason for being women-haters, they are unified to the extent that they (a) hate women and (b) use the Internet to talk to and organize with other women-haters. Feminists know them well. Veterans of the Skeptic-Misogyny conflicts got to learn over the past few years how they can’t stand women who have the temerity to bring their lady-brains into what they, the misogynists, assume to be de facto male spaces.

        Anyway, #GamerGate is essentially a repeat of what happened within the Skeptic/New Atheism movement. A subculture that was predominantly male and thus saturated with all the notions of masculinity that men are socialized to accept as natural, whether they are unhealthy or not, is becoming less predominantly male. The men who cling to those notions of masculinity, especially the toxic varieties, see that they are losing cultural capital among their peers. They feel marginalized, and those within the confederation of On-Line Misogynists find a new fora for their overtly toxic anti-feminism. Reactionary movement ensues to “take back” the subculture from the people who are ruining it. Many bystanders who have no idea whats going on get swept up as cannon fodder in a conflict they know nothing about and useful idiots for a ideology that they’d otherwise reject.

        It is in this context that Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend posted his missive in which he alleged that Quinn traded sex for good press. The misogynists seized upon it, pointing out yet another instance of how women ruin everything. Doxxing/Harrassment/Threats ensued. When the allegation turned out to be bunk, the Doxxing/Harrassment/Threats had to be justified somehow, so more doxxing was done to find something to rationalize the initial breech. Quinn doxxed another charity (also false). Quinn slept with her boss for a promotion (also false). Quinn made up the doxxing/harassment/threats (plainly false). The conspiracy theories were rampant, and the campaign took on a new title when actor and wingnut jerkoff Adam Baldwin was the first to tweet one of the original conspiracy videos under the hashtag “GamerGate.”

        Various attempts were made to shield the harassers and conspiracy mongers from allegations of sexism, like organized donations to the charity that Quinn didn’t dox, the manufacturing of a “chillgirl” gamer mascot who, like, totally doesn’t need feminism because it’s not like it was 100 years ago – GAWD WHY DONT YOU JUST LET ME PLAY GAMES, setting up sockpuppet twitter accounts claiming to be women and minorities using the hashtag #NotYourShield, etc. All of this was deliberately organized as a means of public relations.

        Those of us who saw how utterly stupid and noxious this was started voicing our disgust. Leigh Alexander, a writer and Editor-At-Large for Gamasutra, published an article titled “‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over” in which she said that the changing face and mentality of the gamer identity is a welcome thing, because people who believe that they have a license to exclude others from the identity by any means necessary – up to and including waging campaigns of harassment – are a bunch of rabid jackals in the midst of a death rattle. Other on-line publications put out similar articles. This is ultimately what blew everything up, because if there’s one thing that reactionaries cannot stand is when you stop criticizing what they love and start criticizing them directly. They forgot about Zoe Quinn (GamerGaters now refer to her as “Literally Who #1,” or “LitWhoW1,” while Sarkeesian is “LitWho2″), and switched their harassment campaign to those critical on-line publications.

        Otherwise neutral parties were swept up into the “movement” as its Useful Idiots, misunderstanding the “‘Gamers’ are Over” message as an assault on anyone who plays videogames. These people likely now constitute a majority of GamerGaters, and is why so many GamerGaters claim they don’t support doxxing and harassment. To be fair they’re being honest, but they exist solely as a shield for the misogynists to voice and act upon their misogyny.

        And so, at the present moment, GamerGate, as a collective identity, is composed of two groups preoccupied with the following causes:

        Group #1: Scouring any tint of cultural leftism from gaming.

        Group #2: Disavowing Group #1.

        Group #1 survives by trading complicated conspiracy theories done up as 30-minute YouTube vidoes or 120000×80000 pixel MS-Paint images, linking articles from anti-feminist writers at Forbes and Breitbart to one another, and totally crushing on anti-feminist women like Christina Hoff Sommers (because, as everyone knows, you can’t be a misogynist if you’re a woman or agree with a woman who spouts anti-feminist gibberish). That, and trading cartoon kiddie porn and creepshots on 8chan.

        Group #2 survives by shouting “NOT ALL GAMERS ARE LIKE THAT!” without realizing that no one is talking to them.

19 Oct 07:11

Donner Party Conservatism

by Scott Lemieux

Corey Robin:

And here we come to Ground Zero of conservative commitment. The conservative believes in excellence, as Douthat says, but it is a vision of excellence defined as and dependent on “overcoming.” It’s a vision that abhors the easy path of acceptance, of tolerating human frailty and need, not because that path is wrong but because it is easy.  Or, to put it differently, it’s wrong precisely because it is easy. And though that vision often claims Aristotle as its inspiration, its true sources are Nietzschean.

The conservative believes the excellent person is a kind of mountain climber, a moral athlete who is constantly overcoming or trying to overcome his limits, pushing himself ever higher and higher.  When it comes to sex, he’s not unlike the Foucauldian transgressor, that sexual athlete of novelty and experiment: but where Foucault believes that taboos against sex are all too easily reached (that’s why, if we are to attain the peaks of experience, we have to move beyond those limits), the conservative’s remain out of reach. The value of a rule lies in its difficulty and potential unattainability, the ardor of the struggle it imposes upon us. We might call this ethic the ardor of adversity.*

Very much so, yes. And it gives us another opportunity to revisit Holbo’s classic David Frum essay:

“Contemporary conservatives still value that old American character. William Bennett in his lectures reads admiringly from an account of the Donner party written by a survivor that tells the story in spare, stoic style. He puts the letter down and asks incredulously, “Where did those people go?” But if you believe that early Americans possessed a fortitude that present-day Americans lack, and if you think the loss is an important one, then you have to think hard about why that fortitude disappeared. Merely exhorting Americans to show more fortitude is going to have about as much effect on them as a lecture from the student council president on school spirit. Reorganizing the method by which they select and finance their schools won’t do it either, and neither will the line-item veto, or discharge petitions, or entrusting Congress with the power to deny individual NEA grants, or court decisions strinking down any and all acts of politically correct tyranny emanating from the offices of America’s deans of students – worthwhile though each and every one of those things may be. It is socials that form character, as another conservative hero, Alexis de Tocqueville, demonstrated, and if our characters are now less virtuous than formerly, we must identify in what way our social conditions have changed in order to understand why.

Of course there have been hundreds of such changes – never mind since the Donner party’s day, just since 1945 … But the expansion of government is the only one we can do anything about.

All of these changes have had the same effect: the emancipation of the individual appetite from restrictions imposed on it by limited resources, or religious dread, or community disapproval, or the risk of disease or personal catastophe.” (p. 202-3)

Words fail me; links not much better. The Donner party? Where did all these people go? Into each other, to a dismaying extent. A passage from one of those moving, stoical diary entries:

“…Mrs. Murphy said here yesterday that [she] thought she would commence on Milt and eat him. I don’t think she has done so yet, [but] it is distresing. The Donno[r]s told the California folks that they [would] commence to eat the dead people 4 days ago, if they did not succeed in finding their cattle then under ten or twelve feet of snow & did not know the spot or near it, I suppose they have [cannibalized] …ere this time.”

The stoical endurance of the Donner party in the face of almost unimaginable suffering is indeed moving. The perseverance of the survivors is a lasting testament to the endurance of the human spirit. (On the other hand, the deaths of all who stoically refused to cannibalize their fellows might be deemed an equal, perhaps a greater testament.) But it is by no means obvious – some further demonstration would seem in order – that lawmakers and formulators of public policy should therefore make concerted efforts to emulate the Donner’s dire circumstances. What will the bumper-stickers say? “It’s the economy, stupid! We need to bury it under ten to twelve feet of snow so that we will be forced to cannibalize the dead and generally be objects of moral edification to future generations.”

I think we are beginning to see why Frum feels that his philosophy may be a loser come election time. I think the Donner party – who, be it noted, set out seeking economic prosperity in the West, not snow and starvation – would not vote Republican on the strength of William Bennett’s comfortable edification at the spectacle of their abject misery. (“Let’s start with the fat one over there in the corner, playing the slots. We can eat off him for a week. See how he likes it.”)

To put what is surely rather an obvious point yet another way: if the Donner party is really what you want, the policy riddle (how to reproduce these conditions, since the Donner party was not political, per se?) already has an answer: Stalinism.

…Warren Terra in comments:

I had heard the term “Donner Party Conservatism” before, but it had never occurred to me that it reflected actual sentiments from a famous Conservative Thought Leader in praise of the Donner party – I assumed it was just an insult hurled at the party that professes to represent some sort of Conservative ideals, and that in reality so well recapitulates the experience of the Donner Party.

Think of it: a bunch of god-fearing but frankly ignorant buffoons were sold promises of wealth and opportunity if only they’d pledge themselves to a grand venture. They were then taken advantage of by profiteers who badly outfitted them for the undertaking, and were literally misguided, as in sent along the wrong path, at the wrong time. When they became trapped, the few survivors made it by eating their own; others more principled or more circumspect did not – or were perhaps slain to be food. It’s like the George W Bush administration, plus literal cannibalism. It is, in short, what the Conservatives deliver, but not what they claim to seek. Except, apparently, Bill Bennett.