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24 Nov 14:22

San Diego “Women in Comics” Panel, 1982 Dori Seda,...

San Diego “Women in Comics” Panel, 1982

Dori Seda, unknown, Jan Duursema, Trina Robbins, Carol Kalish

19 Nov 19:31

A New Kind Of Internet Is Coming And It’s Quantum-Encrypted

by Prachi Gupta
A New Kind Of Internet Is Coming And It's Quantum-Encrypted

While the FCC continues to debate net-neutrality regulations, scientists in China and America are quietly creating a new kind of internet, encyrpted by bursts of light instead of the standard long string of numbers.

Revelations gleaned from the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden showed that even the largest tech companies with the best security were vulnerable to having all of their communications over the web intercepted. The problem with the current setup is that all the NSA has to do is physically tap into a direct link from one of their servers and catch the decryption key the company uses for secure communication. If what’s known as quantum-encryption were used, then a potential victim would know someone’s listening before ever sending a message.

The research and development company Battelle is currently building out a nationwide quantum network that would stretch from Boston to Georgia, eventually reaching all the way to California. A similar project is already under way in China, spanning from Shanghai to Beijing. They’re the first networks of their kind, using the essential qualities of light to protect messages in transit.

This is how it works:

The new networks are designed to solve one of cryptography’s most persistent problems: how to distribute encryption keys. A long enough key can provide mathematically unbreakable encryption (known as a one-time pad), but if the key is ever intercepted, the attacker will be able to access everything. As a result, most modern encryption tools have given up on secure distribution entirely, splitting the key into a public key for encoding and a non-distributed private key for decoding. That allows for easier encryption, but it also limits the length of the key, making the system more vulnerable to brute-force attacks.

Quantum networks take a different approach, using long keys that are distributed across the network as bursts of light. To establish a key, one party generates random signal and the other listens in: whatever comes out of the network is the new encryption key. But what if someone else is listening in? To protect against interception, the network relies on the observer effect — the principle that light can’t be intercepted without altering the signal itself. For cryptography purposes, that means that if you’re using the right protocols, you can ensure no one else is on the line before you transmit the key. If everything goes right, it would mean a perfect encryption system, fueled by big, random keys that are impossible to intercept.

China has taken a giant leap in this area by building a a quantum backbone that’s more than 1,200 miles long, while America has little fiber infrastructure in place. Chip Eliot, a top scientist working on America’s quantum expansion, tells the Verge, “In practical terms, China’s way ahead.”

Complicating things further, a secure network would require relay points every sixty miles, opening up more possibilities for a compromised system. For any encryption communication that travels over sixty miles Eliot says, “If you’re really paranoid, you start to think…how do I know that they’re doing what I think they’re doing?” But Eliot says it’s still increases security to the point that it’s worth it, “You have to ask yourself why the Chinese want to do this.”

(Photo: Wikipedia)

The post A New Kind Of Internet Is Coming And It’s Quantum-Encrypted appeared first on ANIMAL.

19 Nov 19:57

KSK Modest Proposal: Just Play Sunday’s Jets-Bills Game In Seven Feet of Snow

by Christmas Ape



That’s right. Between Wednesday night, when nature takes another three-foot snow dump on Buffalo, and Sunday when the Jets visit to play the Bills, have locals clear the roads as much as they can. Get the snow out of the stands at Ralph Wilson Stadium. But leave all the snow on the field.

There have been reports that 220,000 tons of snow have already been removed from the playing surface. Well, they need to put that snow the fuck back on the field because we’re about to have a football game played in seven feet of snow. This is an experiment that humanity owes itself to try. It would be greatest, sloppiest football game of all-time.

What do we stand to lose? A Jets-Bills game? Oh yeah, wouldn’t that be a travesty? One might argue that you would also be risking the healthy of the players, but I would say less so than your average NFL game. It’s not like players will be able to build up enough momentum trudging through snow to hit each other in any sort of damaging way. Most of the game would be tunnel warfare, with offensive linemen trying to dig a path to the end zone ahead of the ballcarrier.

If any players get too cold being submerged in snow for three hours, they can just burrow inside a tauntaun belly. SHUT UP SCIENCE THEY’LL BE FINE.

19 Nov 14:42

Steve Albini on the surprisingly sturdy state of the music industry – in full

Steve Albini is the producer (he prefers the term “recording engineer”) behind several thousand records. He is also a member of the band Shellac. In 1993, he published The Problem with Music, an essay expounding his belief that the major label-dominated industry of the time was inefficient, exploited musicians and led to below par music. On Saturday he gave the keynote address at Melbourne’s Face the Music conference in which he celebrated the fact the internet had both dismantled this system and addressed its inequalities:

I’m going to first explain a few things about myself. I’m 52 years old, I have been in bands continuously, and active in the music scene in one way or another since about 1978. At the moment I’m in a band, I also work as a recording engineer and I own a recording studio in Chicago. In the past I have also been a fanzine writer, radio club DJ, concert promoter and I ran a small record label. I was not terribly successful at any of those things, but I have done them, so they qualify as part of my CV.

I work every day with music and with bands and I have for more than 30 years. I’ve made a couple thousand records for independent bands and rock stars, for big labels and small ones. I made a record two days ago and I’ll be making one on Monday when I get off the plane. So I believe this puts me in a pretty good position to evaluate the state of the music scene today, as it relates to how it used to be and how it has been.

We’re all here to talk about the state of the music scene and the health of the music community. I’ll start by saying that I’m both satisfied and optimistic about the state of the music scene. And I welcome the social and technological changes that have influenced it. I hope my remarks today will start a conversation and through that conversation we can invoke an appreciation of how resilient the music community is, how supportive it can be and how welcoming it should be.

I hear from some of my colleagues that these are rough times: that the internet has cut the legs off the music scene and that pretty soon nobody will be making music anymore because there’s no money in it. Virtually every place where music is written about, there is some version of this troubling perspective. People who used to make a nice income from royalties, they’ve seen the royalties dry up. And people who used to make a living selling records are having trouble selling downloads as substitute for records, and they no longer make records.

So there is a tacit assumption that this money, lost money, needs to be replaced and a lot of energy has been spent arguing from where that money will come. Bitchiness about this abounds, with everybody insisting that somebody else should be paying him, but that he shouldn’t have to pay for anybody else. I would like to see an end to this dissatisfaction.

It’s worthwhile to remember from where we’ve come. From where this bitchiness originates. In the 1970s through the 1990s, the period in which I was most active in bands in the music scene – let’s call this the pre-internet era. The music industry was essentially the record industry, in that records and radio were the venues through which people learned of music and principally experienced it. They were joined by MTV and videos in the 80s and 90s, but the principle relationship people had with music was as sound recordings. There was a booming band scene and all bands aspired to getting recorded, as a mark of legitimacy.

In the 70s and 80s most bands went through their entire lifecycle without so much as a note of their music recorded

But recording was a rare and expensive enterprise, so it wasn’t common. Even your demo tape required considerable investment. So when I started playing in bands in the 70s and 80s most bands went through their entire lifecycle without so much as a note of their music ever being recorded.

Now I’m going to describe the scene as I observed it in America, but I understand that most of the structures and conditions I observed have parallels in other markets. Maybe somebody from my generation can add the local Aussie colour to my comments – I prefer them shouted in as thick an accent as you can muster.

As a yardstick for the economics of the day or for the era, in 1979 you could buy a 45rpm single for a buck, a new album for $5, go see a club gig for $1 or a stadium gig for $7. I know these things because I still have some old ticket stubs and price stickers on my records. Note the relative parity between the live show costs and the recorded music costs. A gradual inflation of prices remained under way through the 90s, making recorded music more expensive, though it remained the principal means of experience.

The whole industry depended on these sales, and sales depended on exposure. Bands on big labels toured, essentially to promote their recordings. And the labels provided promotional and logistical support to keep the bands on the road. This supported a network of agents and managers and roadies and promotional staff, so the expense was considerable.

Retail outlets also offered special placements and promotion: displays, posters, mentions in print ads, giveaways, trinkets and what were called end cap displays. Record labels paid handsomely for these promotions and the stores used the sale of these promotions as additional income. Chain stores especially relied on corporate chain-wide promotions, regardless what the stores might think their local clientele might like. It wasn’t uncommon to see big displays of hair metal bands in urban outlets where they couldn’t sell a single stick but the labels had paid for their utility, so up they went.

Radio stations were enormously influential. Radio was the only place to hear music from any people and record companies paid dearly to influence them. Direct payola had been made illegal but this was a trivial workaround. Record pluggers acting as programming consultants were the middlemen. They paid radio stations for access to their programmers and conducted meetings where new records were promoted.

These promotional offers were quite lucrative. But their metrics depended on radio stations recording that they had added the records to their playlist. To satisfy this requirement and keep the promotional money flowing, radio stations often played tiny fragments of songs jumbled one after the other in any incomprehensible flow during late-night programming hours, to satisfy the programming requirement that they add songs to their playlist. Popular radio stations also staged mammoth concerts, often for free or for nominal cover featuring bands that the labels were promoting. These unpaid radio gigs were a drag on their touring income but the promotional value was presumed to be worth it.

A record store
‘Promotional copies were immediately sold secondhand to record stores.’ Photograph: Luke Macgregor/Reuters

Journalists and editors who could place reviews, program directors and independent DJs who could add records to playlists or played in nightclubs, were subject to much buttering up. Promotional trinkets and advance copies of records were sent their way. Sometimes by the box. Presumably these were listening and file copies. But they were actually a bribe. These promotional copies were immediately sold secondhand to record stores and it was not uncommon for such stores to be overstocked with a new release prior to its official release as a result. My wife worked in a record store that bought records secondhand in the 90s. And their biggest repeat customers, by a long shot, were the people on these label promo lists. The staff at her store kept a tally for awhile and the editor of the local weeklies music section made a comfortable second income amounting to a $1,000 or more a month from selling these promo copies.

So it was a leaky system, riddled with inefficiencies, but a lot of people made a living through it. Record store owners, buyers, employees, ad agencies, designers, club owners, label reps, A&R, producers, recording studios, publicists, lawyers, journalists, program directors, distributors, tour managers, booking agents, band managers, and all the ancillary services they required: banking, shipping, printing, photography, travel agencies, limos, spandex wardrobe, cocaine dealers, prostitutes. Because of this great bulk of the industry needed to sustain itself. Every facet of the industry was tailored to this need.

The most significant bit of tailoring was an accounting trick called recouping costs. The costs of making a record wasn’t borne by the record label, except initially. Those costs were recouped or taken out of the income the band might otherwise run as royalties. The same was true of all those promo copies, posters, radio pluggers and payola men, producers, publicists, tour support, 8x10 glossies, shipping, freight – basically anything that could be associated with a specific band or record was ultimately paid for by the band, not by the record label.

As the label shifted from vinyl to CD as the dominant format, the labels could easily sell the CD as a convenient, compact, trouble-free way to listen to music. The profit margin exploded and the money got stupid. Retails costs of a CD was half again or double more than an LP but the manufacturing, shipping and storage costs were a tiny fraction. The labels even used vinyl’s legacy as a tool to increase this profit margin by charging bands for unique packaging, despite the fact that CD packaging was designed to be standardised. Or pre-emptively charging back for broken CDs at a rate implying that someone was attacking the inventory with an axe.

If the label is paying you with someone else’s money, the label doesn’t need to care how much you charge

In the end the bands operating under this system earned very little from their record sales, unless they were monumental stars. Often enough bands would conduct their entire careers with a label and never reach the point where they had sufficiently recouped to get paid anything at all. Now the label made its per-piece profit on every record sold. And could recoup the cost of any records unsold. And all those other people got paid using the money that would have otherwise gone to the bands as royalties. Unsurprisingly, those other people also got paid pretty well. It stands to reason that if the label is paying you with someone else’s money, the label doesn’t need to care how much you charge.

During the 90s there was something of an arms race to see who could write the biggest deal. That is, the deal with the most money being spent on the band’s behalf. In a singularly painless contest the money would either be paid to the band as a royalty, which would take that money out of the system and put it into things like houses and groceries and college educations. Or it could be paid to other operators within the industry, increasing the clout and prestige of the person doing the spending. It’s as if your boss, instead of giving your paycheck to you, could pay that money to his friends and business associates, invoking your name as he did. Since his net cost was the same and his friends and associates could return the favour, why would he ever want to let any of that money end up in your hands? It was a system that ensured waste by rewarding the most profligate spendthrifts in a system specifically engineered to waste the band’s money.

Now bands existed outside that label spectrum. The working bands of the type I’ve always been in, and for those bands everything was always smaller and simpler. Promotion was usually down to flyers posted on poles, occasional mentions on college radio and fanzines. If you had booked a gig at a venue that didn’t advertise, then you faced a very real prospect of playing to an empty room. Local media didn’t take bands seriously until there was a national headline about them so you could basically forget about press coverage. And commercial radio was absolutely locked up by the payola-driven system of the pluggers and program directors.

International exposure was extraordinarily expensive. In order for your records to make it into overseas hands you had to convince a distributor to export them. And that was difficult with no means for anyone to hear the record and decide to buy it. So you ended up shipping promotional copies overseas at a terrific expense, never sure if they would be listened to or not.

John Peel
John Peel: ‘He listened religiously to every single record he received in the mail, devoting hours of every day to the task.’ Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/Redferns

The one exception to this was the brilliant BBC DJ John Peel. He listened religiously to every single record he received in the mail, devoting hours of every day to the task. I sent him a copy of the first album I ever made and not only did he play the record on air, he sent me back a postcard with a personal remembrance of Chicago, of visiting a matron aunt as a child in Evanston, the suburb where my post office box was kept. I treasured that note as the first indication that John Peel was a great man.

So these independent bands had to be resourceful. They’d built their own infrastructure of independent clubs, promoters, fanzines and DJs. They had their own channels of promotion, including the beginnings of the internet culture that is so prevalent today – that being bulletin boards, and newsgroups. These independent bands even made their own record label. Some were collectives and those that weren’t were likely to operate on a profit-sharing basis that encouraged efficiency, rather than a recoupable patronage system that encouraged indulgence.

That’s where I cut my teeth, in that independent scene full of punks and noise freaks and drag queens and experimental composers and jabbering street poets. You can thank punk rock for all of that. That’s where most of us learned that it was possible to make your own records, to conduct your own business and keep control of your own career. If a bunch of pimply glue sniffers could do it, we reasoned, then anybody could.

The number of records released this way was incredible. Thousands of small releases made their way into the “mom and pop” independent speciality stores, which then provided a market for independent distribution. It was the beginnings of an alternative to the label paradigm. It was cumbersome and slow but it was more efficient than a shotgun approach with the big labels, whose answer to every problem was to spend more of the band’s money on it.

It was the beginning of what we would call the peer network. By mid-90s there were independent labels and distributors moving millions of dollars of records and CDs. And there was a healthy underground economy of bands making a reasonable income owing to the superior efficiencies of the independent methods. My band, as an example, was returned 50% of the net profit on every title that we released through our record label. I worked it out and that earned us a better per-piece royalty than Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Madonna or any other superstar operating concurrently. And we were only one of thousands of such bands.

So, that was the system as it was. That’s what we lost when the internet made everything available everywhere for free. And make no mistake about it, we have lost it. There is still an independent label network but it’s a slim fraction of what it was. The labels continuing to survive do so by supplying niche music to a discerning audience. And because they have been steeled in the art of efficiency their constitution allows them to scale everything to suit the remaining demand.

You may have noticed that in my description of the mass market music scene and the industry as it was pre-internet I made little mention of the audience or the bands. Those two ends of the spectrum were hardly considered by the rest of the business. Fans were expected to listen to the radio and buy records and bands were expected to make records and tour to promote them. And that was about all the thought either were given. But the audience was where all the money came from and the bands were where all the music came from.

Music went from being rare, expensive ... to being free worldwide. What a fantastic development

Through the internet, which more than anything else creates access to things, limitless music eventually became available for free. The big record companies didn’t see how to make money from online distribution so they effectively ignored it, leaving it to the hackers and the audience to populate a new landscape of downloading. People who prefer the convenience of CDs over LPs naturally prefer downloaded music even more. You could download it or stream it or listen from YouTube or have your friends on message boards or acquaintances send you zip files. In the blink of an eye music went from being rare, expensive and only available through physical media in controlled outlets to being ubiquitous and free worldwide. What a fantastic development.

There’s a lot of shade thrown by people in the music industry about how terrible the free sharing of music is, how it’s the equivalent of theft, etc. That’s all bullshit and we’ll deal with that in a minute. But for a minute I want you to look at the experience of music from a fan’s perspective, post-internet. Music that is hard to find was now easy to find. Music to suit my specific tastes, as fucked up as they might be, was now accessible by a few clicks or maybe posting a query on a message board. In response I had more access to music than I had ever imagined. Curated by other enthusiasts, keen to turn me on to the good stuff; people, like me, who want other people to hear the best music ever.

This audience-driven music distribution has other benefits. Long-forgotten music has been given a second life. And bands whose music that was ahead of its time has been allowed to reach a niche audience that the old mass distribution failed to find for them, as one enthusiast turns on the next and this forgotten music finally gets it due. There’s a terrific documentary about one such case, the Detroit band Death whose sole album was released in a perfunctory edition in, I believe, 1975 and disappeared until a copy of it was digitised and made public on the internet. Gradually the band found an audience, their music got lovingly reissued, and the band has resurrected, complete with tours playing to packed houses. And the band are now being allowed the career that the old star system had denied them. There are hundreds of such stories and there are speciality labels that do nothing but reissue lost classics like that once they surface.

Now look at the conditions from a band’s perspective, the conditions faced by a band. In contrast to back in the day, recording equipment and technology has simplified and become readily available. Computers now come pre-loaded with enough software to make a decent demo recording and guitar stores sell microphones and other equipment inexpensively that previously was only available at a premium from arcane speciality sources. Essentially every band now has the opportunity to make recordings.

And they can do things with those recordings. They can post them online in any number of places: Bandcamp, YouTube, SoundCloud, their own websites. They can link to them on message boards, Reddit, Instagram, Twitter and even in the comment streams of other music. “LOL,” “this sucks,” “much better,” “death to false metal,” “LOL”. Instead of spending a fortune on international phone calls trying to find someone in each territory to listen to your music, every band on the planet now has free, instant access to the world at its fingertips.

I cannot overstate how important a development that is. Previously, in the top-down paradigm allowed local industry to dictate what music was available in isolated or remote markets, markets isolated by location or language. It was inconceivable that a smaller or independent band could have market penetration into, say, Greece or Turkey, Japan or China, South America, Africa or the Balkans. Who would you ask to handle your music? How would you find him? And how would you justify the business and currency complications required to send four or five copies of a record there?

Fans can find the music they like and develop direct relationships with the bands

Now those places are as well-served as New York and London. Fans can find the music they like and develop direct relationships with the bands. It is absolutely possible – I’m sure it happens every day – that a kid in one of these far-flung places can find a new favourite band, send that band a message, and that singer of that band will read it and personally reply to it from his cell phone half a world away. How much better is that? I’ll tell you, it’s infinitely better than having a relationship to a band limited to reading it on the back of the record jacket. If such a thing were possible when I was a teenager I’m certain I would have become a right nuisance to the Ramones.

A couple of years ago my band mounted a tour of eastern Europe. We played all the hot spots: the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, we made it as far as Istanbul, Turkey. It was a magical experience, playing in front of audiences who were relatively unjaded by the routine of touring bands and we were welcomed like friends. We played to full houses at the same size venues as the rest of Europe. The same sizes as we would play here in Australia. And the audiences seem equivocally familiar with our music. The key difference being that most of the places have literally never sold a single record. Essentially 100% of our exposure had been through informal means over the internet or hand-to-hand.

Steve Albini with his Shellac bandmates, Todd Trainer and Bob Weston
Steve Albini with his Shellac bandmates, Todd Trainer and Bob Weston

On that trip we established contacts with local promoters and arts organisations and audiences developed an appetite for our music and we have since sold quite a few records into the region. Our next tour through the region was easier as a result and we’re going back to Istanbul this spring, using contacts made on that first exploratory trip. I expect to have a marvellous time.

In short, the internet has made it much easier to conduct the day-to-day business of being in a band and has increased the efficiency. Everything from scheduling rehearsals using online calendars, to booking tours by email, to selling merchandise and records from online stores, down to raising the funds to make a record is a new simplicity that bands of the pre-internet era would salivate over. The old system was built by the industry to serve the players inside the industry. The new system where music is shared informally and the bands have a direct relationship to the fans was built by the bands and the fans in the manner of the old underground. It skips all the intermediary steps.

Bands now have default control of their exposure. It’s no longer necessary to pay people to pay other people to play your records on the radio, only to have those people lie about doing so. It’s no longer necessary to spend money to let people hear your band. It happens automatically.

There’s another, much subtler change that all this instigated. Since people no longer have to make do listening to whatever is on the radio playlist and are no longer limited to owning what the store decides to stock, they have become much more indulgent in their tastes. My friends now normally listen to exotic playlists that they have dreamed up themselves, full of counterintuitive and contrasting choices that are uniquely theirs.

Our office bearer has a hi-fi in that studio office and is as likely to be playing the new 45 from the hardcore band Leather or electro drone by Tim Hecker as he is to be playing a deep cut of Cincinnati soul or handbag disco or improv guitar noodlings, whether newly released from Oren Ambarchi or 30 years old from the Takoma label. People can now listen only to music they are ecstatic about, all the time.

There are active online communities for every kind of music and its subcultures. Whether you’re into Dusty’s Deep Cut reggae, minimal electronics, symphonic pop, Texas blues, Japanese noise, power electronics, children’s music, christmas music, Raymond Scott, or Burl Ives, I guarantee there is an online community where you can connect with other enthusiasts to indulge the minute specificity of your tastes.

These online communities are now a vital part of the scene and this debate and others are hashed out there daily. I’ve probably unconsciously lifted some of my positions in these remarks from discussions I’ve had online so I’d like to confess that plagiarism now, as a way to encourage all of you to get involved in these forums where all the interesting conversations about music is happening.

Imagine a great hall of fetishes where whatever you felt like fucking or being fucked by, however often your tastes might change, no matter what hardware or harnesses were required, you could open the gates and have at it on a comfy mattress at any time of day. That’s what the internet has become for music fans. Plus bleacher seats for a cheering section.

As a result fans are more ardent for this music. They are willing to spend more on seeing it played live. They are willing to buy more ephemera and eager to establish a personal relationship to the people who make the music. Gig prices have escalated as a result. And the merchandise tables at gigs are universally teeming with activity. Back home, gigs that used to cost five or six bucks are now 20 or 30. Over here the ticket inflation has been more pronounced, with club gigs going for $80 or more. As a result gig income for bands has increased exponentially. My band has been playing a lot of the same places for the entirety of our existence, over 20 years now. I guess you could say we’ve saturated our audience, no matter how long we stay at it. Some of these perennial gigs are now paying an over of magnitude better than they were 10 or 15 years ago. That’s right, some places where we used to earn four or five hundred dollars we now earn four or five grand.

This ease of access, redoubled interest and increase in income has created a new partnership and possibilities between individuals, bands and visual artists, online film-makers, choreographers and other kinds of public people. Collaborations take place in real time or displaced over the internet where the parties often never meet face-to-face. I have a dear friend who found himself with a bunch of time on his hands last year so he formed a couple of new bands. One of these bands was entirely populated by people he only knew online and all of their music was made by online collaboration. This music was a pure result of the interconnectivity of the internet.

All of that, all of those characteristics, all of those possibilities were instigated and made possible by the online sharing of music. If not directly, as in the case of building an audience for the band Death and my own band in the Balkans and beyond, then indirectly by changing the expectations of the listeners and musicians.

This explains my enthusiasm for the way the music scene has changed, but what about my optimism? I would like to address a platitude about the online exposure of music. From all quarters we hear that, this is the platitude: “We need to figure out how to make internet distribution work for everyone.” I use finger quotes to indicate intellectual distance between myself and the quotation. I have a friend, Tim Midgett, who uses three fingers for finger quotes to indicate extra irony. This is a two jobber.

I disagree with this rather inoffensive platitude. It’s innocuous and vapid and fills the air after someone asks the question, “How is the music scene these days?” And it maintains hope that the current state of affairs as mentioned, presumed to be tragic, can be changed for the better. For “everyone”. That word everyone is important to the people using the sentence. In their mind the physical distribution model worked for everyone. But the new one does not. Not yet, not yet. Not until we “figure it out”. I’m sure we’re all going to get tired of me doing that [air quotes].

Inside that trite sentence, 'We need to figure out how to make this work for everyone,' hides the skeleton of a monster

I disagree that the old way is better. And I do not believe this sentence to be true: “We need to figure out how to make this digital distribution work for everyone.” I disagree with it because within its mundane language are tacit assumptions: the framework of an exploitative system that I have been at odds with my whole creative life. Inside that trite sentence, “We need to figure out how to make this work for everyone,” hides the skeleton of a monster.

Let’s start at the beginning. “We need to figure out”: the subject of that sentence, the first-person plural, sounds inclusive but the context defeats that presumption. Who would have the power to implement a new distribution paradigm? Who would be in the room when we discuss our plans for it? Who would do the out figuring we need to do? Industry and consumers? Consumers is a likely response, but did the consumers get a vote about how their music would be compressed or tagged or copy protected or made volatile? Did anybody? Did the consumers get a choice about whether or not Apple stuck a U2 album on their iTunes library? Of course not. These things were just done and we had to deal with them as a state of being. Consumers rebelling or complaining about things – “market pushback” – isn’t the same thing as being involved in the decision to do something. Clearly the “we” of this sentence doesn’t include the listener. I believe any attempt to organise the music scene that ignores the listener is doomed.

How about the bands? Do the bands get a seat at the “we” table, while our figuring-out needs are met? Of course not. If you ask bands what they want – and I know this because I’m in a band and I deal with bands every day – what they want is a chance to expose their music and to have a shot at getting paid by their audience. I believe the current operating status satisfies the first of these conditions exquisitely and the latter at least as well as the old record label paradigm.

So who is this “we”? The administrative parts of the old record business, that’s who. The vertical labels who hold copyright on a lot of music. They want to do the figuring. They want to set the agenda. And they want to do all the structural tinkering. The bands, the audience, the people who make music and who pay for it – they are conspicuously not in the discussion.

How about the word “need”, we “need” to figure out? The need is actually a “want”, a preference. These remnants of the music industry are unsatisfied with how the internet, the bands and the audience can get along fine without them. So they prefer to change things to re-establish relevance. You see this in the spate of 360 deals that are being offered now, where everything a band does, from their music to their T-shirts to their Twitter accounts belong to the record label. In exchange the record label offers startup money. I believe this approach is doomed by things like Kickstarter, which have proven more effective and efficient at raising money directly from the audience that wants to support the music.

How about the infinitive “to figure out”? We need “to figure out”. That presumes that we can know how to attack a global distribution enterprise long after the internet has crowdsourced an efficient and painless way to do precisely that. There’s a reason the water faucet hasn’t changed radically over the years. Time and trial have demonstrated that the best and simplest way to control hot water is by turning a tap. Problem solved, no further solving of the hot water faucet problem is required. I cannot be the only one who is annoyed by the constantly misaligned proximity faucets in public washrooms. Imagine if listening to music was as frustrating as that.

The next part of the sentence: “make” distribution work. This implies that we have control over the distribution, that we can make it do some things but not others. The internet proves this to be a fallacy. Once we release music it’s out of our control. I use the verb “release” because it’s common vernacular. But I think it’s a perfect description. Even more apt if you consider what happens when you release other things, say a bird or a fart. When you release them they’re in the world and the world will react and use them as it sees fit. The fart may wrinkle noses until it dissipates. The bird may fly outside and crap on windshields; it may get shot down by a farmer. It’s been released, so you have no control over it. You can’t recall the fart, however much you would like to. You can’t protect the bird.

Distribution is a problematic word. Its prior meaning implies scarcity and allocation of physical products. You can inventory them, you could tax them, duty them, you could search somebody’s book bag for them. None of that is true with digital files. If it were possible to return digital files to the strict control of the record labels (it is impossible, don’t worry), what would be their incentive to be honest in their accounting? In the physical distribution model you could inventory the titles in the warehouse during an audit and compare them with the delivery manifests from the press manufacturing plant, and know with reasonable accuracy how many copies had been sold. How on earth would you inventory a digital file? Count how many were left on the shelf?

That word is problematic, but the most problematic word in the sentence is the word “work”: we need to figure out how to make it “work”. Work is an impossible word in this context. Depending on who uses it, it will have contradictory meanings. For a label the system would work if it generated a profit per play, controlled access to music while providing access to the audience for advertisers as an additional income, and allowed the availability of push marketing for promotion. For the listener it would mean open access, ability to find specific and niche music, continuous playback, lack of nuisance, ease of use, freedom from spying, low or no cost, utility on different devices, lack of push marketing and lack of advertising. For a band it would mean finding an audience and having no barrier to participation, and no limits on amount of material made available. You can see how this is problematic. It is literally impossible for a system to satisfy all of these needs simultaneously when they are contradictory.

And the hybrid approaches being tried are clumsy and insulting. I recently tried streaming a podcast from an official licensed site. When the cats started fighting I missed a little bit, having to separate the cats and then feed the cats and then calmed them down. I came back to my computer and tried to replay the last few minutes that I had missed but was greeted with a notice that due to copyright agreements this player was not allowed to rewind the podcast. I find it unimaginable that the people who posted the podcast wanted that provision enabled. And the site just ensured that I would never bother with their product again.

The conclusion of that sentence, the “for everyone” is also problematic. I don’t think it is necessary or even preferable to have everyone involved in defining the experience with music or more generally the relationship with the band and its audience. We seem to accept that record stores, who were once the welcoming face of the industry and the recipient of much promotional patronage described earlier, are not coming along in the digital era. Record stores now get their appeal from carrying secondhand records, something the industry used to have a regular shit fit about. And by carrying speciality and niche material that is too marginal for corporate attention, they are clearly not part of the “everyone” in the sentence.

So there’s no reason to insist that other obsolete bureaux and offices of the lapsed era be brought along into the new one. The music industry has shrunk. In shrinking it has rung out the middle, leaving the bands and the audiences to work out their relationship from the ends. I see this as both healthy and exciting. If we’ve learned anything over the past 30 years it’s that left to its own devices bands and their audiences can get along fine: the bands can figure out how to get their music out in front of an audience and the audience will figure out how to reward them.

The internet has facilitated the most direct and efficient, compact relationship ever between band and audience

The internet has facilitated the most direct and efficient, compact relationship ever between band and audience. And I do not mourn the loss of the offices of inefficiencies that died in the process. I suppose some people are out of work. But the same things happened when the automobile replaced the horse, and all the blacksmiths had to adapt, spending their time making garden gates rather than horseshoes.

When I read over these notes on the plane today I felt like I spent too much time enumerating complaints, and I don’t want to conclude without reiterating how terrific the current music environment is. I see more bands and I hear more music than ever before in my life. There are more gigs, more songs available than ever before, bands are being treated with more respect, and are more in control of their careers and destinies. I see them continuing as a constellation of enterprises: some big, some small – most small but all of them with a more immediate response from their audience and a greater chance to succeed. It is genuinely exciting.

I’ve been talking an awful long time, but I have not yet mentioned the intellectual property debate. I’ll try to get that out of the way briefly now. I would like to leave room for questions after I speak, and though I’m leaving out a lot – publishing, stolen credits, sampling, fair use, inspiration – I suspect there will be a healthy discussion afterward and think that such discussions are necessary and overdue.

From my part, I believe the very concept of exclusive intellectual property with respect to recorded music has come to a natural end, or something like an end. Technology has brought to a head a need to embrace the meaning of the word “release”, as in bird or fart. It is no longer possible to maintain control over digitised material and I don’t believe the public good is served by trying to.

There is great public good by letting creative material lapse into the public ownership. The copyright law has been modified so extensively in the past decades that now this essentially never happens, creating absurdities whenever copyright is invoked. There’s a huge body of work that is not legally in the public domain, though its rights holder, authors and creators have died or disappeared as businesses. And this material, from a legal standpoint now removed from our culture – nobody may copy it or re-release it because it’s still subject to copyright.

Other absurdities abound: innocuous usage of music in the background of home videos or student projects is technically an infringement and official obstacles are set up to prevent it. If you want a video of your wedding reception – your father’s first dance with a new bride – it’s off limits unless it is silent. If your little daughter does a kooky dance to a Prince song don’t bother putting it on YouTube for her grandparents to see or a purple dwarf in assless chaps will put an injunction on you. Did I offend the little guy? Fuck it. His music is poison.

Music has entered the environment as an atmospheric element, like the wind, and in that capacity should not be subject to control and compensation. Well, not unless the rights holders are willing to let me turn the tables on it. If you think my listening is worth something, OK then, so do I. Play a Phil Collins song while I’m grocery shopping? Pay me $20. Def Leppard? Make it $100. Miley Cyrus? They don’t print money big enough.

18 Nov 14:40

On a Sonnet made from Numbers and the Philosophy of Meaning

I must record here for you Reader a most Curious Discovery. I was investigating the Usage of Rhyme in a Historical Corpus of English Poetry, when, quite accidentally, while mixing together a Sample of Iambic Poems from the Sixteenth through the Twentieth Centuries, this Poem was randomly generated out of the Unseen Depths of Chance. And yet I think it is a wonderful Poem–a Sonnet in fact, after the Shakespearean manner–if perhaps wanting a little in Sense. Nonetheless I count it a Discovery: indeed, it reminds me of James Macpherson, who found and bravely brought to the World that glorious epic of Ossian. But I digress no further: here is the Poem: I have but added certain Punctuation, which it lacked Entirely:

01	Let us who pale to look for rest, retreat;
02	Now, vain resistance will but buy the task,
03	And light with smiles indulgent chear'd and beat.
04	The lightnings strike: the ende is good to ask
05	Thee, save these groves and lawns and shades, in vain
06	The fortress strong, the cage was wood: he chose
07	An ample plain where sickning pleasures reign.
08	Or, as her choice flowers, their beauty shows
09	From faces heavnly fair, in sight the black
10	Rock's side or flowry glade: a deep abyss
11	Prostrate he lies, enrowl'd now all the pack
12	And first is fed fancy, who with a kisse,
13	Was sealed to keep their fainty hopes alive.
14	But soon, shall prove thine utmost ire and drive.

I copy my Procedure below. But now let us address an important Question of Philosophy. What is the status of Meaning in this Poem? It calls to mind a similar Thought-Experiment: Professors Knapp and Michaels’ “Against Theory” article in the Critical Inquiry of Summer 1982 — in which the more Wordsworthian Conceit is, that Nature herself, while already occupied in splashing about a Beach with the Waves of the Sea, somehow manages, quite by Accident, to transcribe in perfectly readable English the following words: “A slumber did my spirit seal, I had no human fears:” &c. &c. For Profs. K. & M., because its creation is by Chance, it cannot be a Poem, nor bear any Meaning: for Meaning derives from Intentionality.

Let us who pale to look for rest, retreat;
Now, vain resistance will but buy the task,
And light with smiles indulgent chear’d and beat.
The lightnings strike: the ende is good to ask
Thee, save these groves and lawns and shades, in vain
The fortress strong, the cage was wood: he chose
An ample plain where sickning pleasures reign.
Or, as her choice flowers, their beauty shows
From faces heavnly fair, in sight the black
Rock’s side or flowry glade: a deep abyss
Prostrate he lies, enrowl’d now all the pack
And first is fed fancy, who with a kisse,
Was sealed to keep their fainty hopes alive.
But soon, shall prove thine utmost ire and drive.

But is this fascinating Sonnet, another Accident of Sorts, really not a Poem? — with no Meaning whatsoever? Absurd, in my Opinion. Look for instance at the poem’s opening pastoral affect, surrounding the Vanity of Ambition and the Virtue of Rest; followed by the prophesy of the End of Days; and then the ensuing, strange, gendered Dialectic, in which a Male Persona (“he”) of “sickning pleasures” alternates with a Female Persona (“her”) of “choice flowers” and “faces heavnly fair”. I could walk out this interpretation Further — and will — in this footnote. But in a word, I mean to say: this is a Poem. As a raindrop falls down a Window — unpredictably, and yet likely to follow the Channels of prior Drops — so this Sonnet wrote itself by falling down the Grooves made, not by Nature’s idle unthinking Waves, but by thousands of English Iambic Poems across the last five Centuries.

Herein lies the Problem with the Account of Knapp and Michaels: Nature could never write a Poem. They ask us to take this Falsity on Premise, but it is a Devious Falsity, for it obscures the Nature of those Forces that bring a Poem into being. Although constructed from an historically distributed Sample, this Poem has a predominant flavor of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, perhaps given its Seed Words, “let us”, with their monosyllabic Diction and prayer-like Invocation. But in any case, from this origin, to travel the Markov Chain of English Iambic Poetry is, for some reason, to travel through a thematics of Ambition versus Rest; of an interesting, and problematic, gendered Polarity of Affect, between Fancy and Delight on the one hand, and Aggression and Dissolution on the other. What gives these Thematics meaning, in this Accidental Poem, is identical to what gives meaning to the Thematics of a “Real” Poem: the Forces that led Language to take on this particular Shape and Pattern. In a Poet, these Forces are personal as well as literary, social, historical, &c.: here, while not personal, the Forces embedded in the Markov Chain are perhaps still more deeply historical, cultural, literary, and political. They represent a muted Afterglow of Poetry’s English History, an Afterglow which in spite of itself retains a Specificity of Meaning. For the eminent Philosopher of Events and Action, Donald Davidson, Reasons are Causes of Actions. So too here: Reasons are Causes of Poetry, even as these Reasons are de-personalized from Intentionality, per se — one could say that the ghost of Wordsworth is dispelled — to become instead a more persuasive, complex Form of Meaning: Forces and Causes; Grooves, and Raindrops.


Recipe: for a Sonnet

  1. From 800 Poems sampled from each of eight Historical Periods as annotated in Chadwyck-Healy’s Corpus of Poetry, from the Tudor Period to the 20th Century
  2. in the Poems which the Algorithm believes are Iambic
  3. construct two Markov Chains
    1. for words within lines only (to maximize Sense and Syntax)
    2. for all words in the poem
  4. a “Chain” meaning that for every three words (n1 + n2 + n3), increase in your Data the probability of (n3) given (n1 + n2)
  5. this then allows, from a chosen starting point of an arbitrary (n1 + n2), a “random” decision of the next word, (n3), but weighted by the probability of (n3) derived from the foregoing operation, number 4.
  6. Then (n2 + n3) become the new (n1 + n2), and predict a new (n3) in its turn, and so on ad infinitum, in potentia.
  7. To generate a Pentameter Poem, however, run the Model (from the initial Seed Words [here, "let us"]) as many times as necessary until:
    1. a perfect 10 Syllable Line is created
    2. whose last word is not a function word
    3. whose last two words were observed somewhere in the Corpus [to further prohibit ending on Syntactic Words]
    4. and which, if necessary, rhymes with the appropriate line.
  8. Once the first Line is created, the next line is generated using the Seed Words of the last two Words of the first Line — but only Lines generated that satisfy the above Conditions are accepted, all others are discarded, into a Heap of Combinations of English Words perhaps never before Seen, and perhaps, never after
  9. The lines can be given a Rhyme Scheme to follow. In this case the scheme is the following: “A B A B C D C D E F E F G G.”
  10. Rhymes are defined as a Correspondence of Phonemes in the Nucleus and Coda of the Final Syllable of two Lines.
  11. Use the Within-Line Markov Model when within a Line, whenever possible; otherwise switch to the All Words Model

Further Notes

18 Nov 10:50




17 Nov 17:57

Transgender Pioneer and Stone Butch Blues Author Leslie Feinberg Has Died

by Suzan


From The Advocate:

She was a pioneer in trans and lesbian issues, workers rights, and intersectionality long before anyone could define the phrase. Her partner, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and family offered us this obituary.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
November 17 2014

Leslie Feinberg, who identified as an anti-racist white, working-class, secular Jewish, transgender, lesbian, female, revolutionary communist, died on November 15. She succumbed to complications from multiple tick-borne co-infections, including Lyme disease, babeisiosis, and protomyxzoa rheumatica, after decades of illness.

She died at home in Syracuse, NY, with her partner and spouse of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt, at her side. Her last words were: “Remember me as a revolutionary communist.”

Feinberg was the first theorist to advance a Marxist concept of “transgender liberation,” and her work impacted popular culture, academic research, and political organizing.

Her historical and theoretical writing has been widely anthologized and taught in the U.S. and international academic circles. Her impact on mass culture was primarily through her 1993 first novel, Stone Butch Blues, widely considered in and outside the U.S. as a groundbreaking work about the complexities of gender. Sold by the hundreds of thousands of copies and also passed from hand-to-hand inside prisons, the novel has been translated into Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Slovenian, Turkish, and Hebrew (with her earnings from that edition going to ASWAT Palestinian Gay Women).

In a statement at the end of her life, she said she had “never been in search of a common umbrella identity, or even an umbrella term, that brings together people of oppressed sexes, gender expressions, and sexualities” and added that she believed in the right of self-determination of oppressed individuals, communities, groups, and nations.

She preferred to use the pronouns she/zie and her/hir for herself, but also said: “I care which pronoun is used, but people have been disrespectful to me with the wrong pronoun and respectful with the right one. It matters whether someone is using the pronoun as a bigot, or if they are trying to demonstrate respect.”

Feinberg was born September 1, 1949, in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in Buffalo, NY, in a working-class Jewish family. At age 14, she began supporting herself by working in the display sign shop of a local department store, and eventually stopped going to her high school classes, though officially she received her diploma. It was during this time that she entered the social life of the Buffalo gay bars. She moved out of a biological family hostile to her sexuality and gender expression, and to the end of her life carried legal documents that made clear they were not her family.

Continue reading at:

12 Nov 23:07

Each year, some Shia Muslims in #Brujerd get into public baths,...

Each year, some Shia Muslims in #Brujerd get into public baths, cover their bodies with mud and mourn the death of Imam Hossein by hitting their chests and chanting Islamic elegies. Afterwards, they wash their bodies, get out of the baths and continue the ritual by marching along the streets and chanting until noon. Ashura Day, early in the morning. #Lorestan, #Iran #everydayiran
Picture made by Vahid Behrouzian @vahid_behrouzian for @everydayiran

12 Nov 14:00

Clever Japanese pet owners find perfect cat beds…at IKEA! 【Photos】

by Casey Baseel

NB 22

One of the great things about IKEA is the broad appeal of its furnishings. With understated styling, reasonable prices, and adequate quality, the Swedish-based megastore is the perfect place to find sofas for recent college graduates, dishes for newlyweds, and work desks for telecommuters.

And also, as clever Japanese pet owners have learned, adorable beds for cats.

Officially, IKEA hasn’t moved into the pet supply sector. The compact, 2,299-yen (US$20) Duktig is actually supposed to be used as a “bed” for children’s dolls.

NB 24

Since it’s technically a toy, assembly is incredibly simple, consisting of inserting four pegs and four screws before slapping on a board.

NB 1

Still, it seems like kind of a waste to buy creature comforts for inanimate objects like dolls. So instead, savvy Japanese pet owners have been picking up Duktigs for their cats.

NB 22

NB 23

The Duktig comes bundled with a tiny little sheet, but most pet owners who’re dedicated enough to buy furniture for their kitties seem to spruce the bed up with some extra linens and blankets.

NB 16

▼ We wonder, since they’re already covered in hair, do cats appreciate a fuzzy blanket as much as we humans do?

NB 8

NB 7

Even though it wasn’t created with cats in mind, the bed turns out to have one very feline-friendly design point. Since there’s a gap in the edge of the frame where a person’s toes would be, the cats have a perfectly placed opening to stick their tails through.

NB 19

Much like with human beings, the cats’ reactions upon being woken up seem to range from startled to stink eye.

NB 15

▼ “Nope, not getting up yet.”

NB 12

NB 18

On the other hand, leave them alone, and they loo cozy enough to sleep all day.

NB 21

NB 5

Of course, a lot of cat lovers have multiple kitties in their homes, which of course require multiple beds.

NB 3

If floor space is at a premium, though, drilling a couple of holes is about all you need to do to make a bunk bed.

NB 11

Really, you can never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep in improving your mood. A solid 40 winks is enough to make even natural enemies get along, as this photo proves.

NB 2

Hmm…why are we not surprised the cat snagged the top bunk?

Related: Duktig web page
Source: Naver Matome
Top image: Livedoor
Insert images: IKEA, Onigiri Face, FC2, Leo Tanken, Neko Bakudan, Ameblo, Neko Journal, Diary Cats, Neko Jirushi, Imgur, FC2 (2), IKEA Hackers

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Origin: Clever Japanese pet owners find perfect cat beds…at IKEA! 【Photos】
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12 Nov 14:42

Kim Kardashian’s Paper Cover Has a Race Problem That No One Is Talking About

by Hannah Ongley
Paper is wrongly attributing the inspiration for Kim Kardashian's cover to a vintage Goude photo called "Champagne Incident." The photo is actually 1976's "Carolina Beaumont," and it's about more than champagne.
11 Nov 20:30

How to Make Homemade Cheez-Its

by Samantha Seneviratne | Love, Cake

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Samantha Seneviratne from Love, Cake shows us how to make our favorite baked cheese crackers at home.

It’s 8 PM and the kids just went to sleep. Not my kids (I’m only thirteen), but the kids I’m babysitting. And now I’m trying not to move a muscle or make a sound so that those kids stay put. It’s a serious struggle because the kitchen is basically calling to me. I’m practically all alone in a house full of of someone else’s junk food, and I can’t wait to launch my official raid of the snack cupboard, get a can of Fresca out of the fridge, and sit down in front of MTV.

When I see a Cheez-It, I'm transported back to that time. The red package immediately has me calculating how many crackers I can stuff into my mouth without the box feeling too empty to put back in the pantry. Let me just suggest that you keep these homemade cuties -- which are perhaps even more addictive than the originals -- very well hidden; better yet, take them with you when you leave the kids at home with the babysitter. 

Homemade Cheez-Its

Makes about 5 cups of crackers

2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
7 1/2 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) finely grated sharp cheddar
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

In the bowl of a food processor add the flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and cheese and pulse until very well combined. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse until the dough is just wet enough to come together when squeezed. Add up to 2 tablespoons more water if necessary. 

Divide the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap.

Press each half of dough into a flat square, wrap well, and chill for at least 30 minutes. 

Working with one square at a time, roll the dough out to a scant 1/8-inch thick. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the dough into 3/4-inch wide strips. 

Then cut the dough in the other direction to make 3/4-inch squares.

Use the flat end of a wooden skewer to poke a hole in the center of each square. Freeze the dough until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Roll and cut the remaining dough, then preheat the oven to 350° F.

Brush half of the dough with beaten egg white and sprinkle it with salt. Use an offset spatula to gently break the egg-washed dough apart and place the squares on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake until puffed and set and browned on the bottom, about 14 to 16 minutes. (Make sure to cook them well so that the finished crackers are crisp. Completely frozen dough may take a few extra minutes to bake.)

Transfer the parchment with the baked crackers onto a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining frozen crackers. Store the cooled crackers in an airtight container.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Samantha Seneviratne

11 Nov 20:40


11 Nov 15:00

Laverne Is A 2014 Glamour Woman Of The Year!

by Monica Roberts


This has been one amazing year for Laverne Cox in which she has broken ground for transkind on one level or another.  She was the first transperson to appear on the cover of Time magazine.   She was  the first out transperson to be nominated for an Emmy thanks to her groundbreaking Sophia Burset role on Orange Is The New Black.   She's produced a documentary on the unjust incarceration of CeCe McDonald for defending herself from a transphobic attack.

And now you can add one more first to an amazing list of them for Cox.   The first out trans person to be named a Glamour Woman Of The Year.

Yep, there's a girl like us along with other 2014 winners Chelsea Clinton, Robin Roberts, Lupita Nyong'o, and Mindy Kaling just to name a few of the other honorees

Megacongrats on another trailblazing first, Laverne.  
11 Nov 00:01

Bill Cosby invited the internet to make memes about him, and it’s not going well

by Joe Veix
Bill Cosby invited the internet to make memes about him, and it’s not going well

Bill Cosby invited the internet to make memes of him, providing a tool on his website so that anyone may easily do so. As you might have guessed, it’s backfiring spectacularly. Happy Monday, indeed.

bill cosby meme tweet1 Bill Cosby invited the internet to make memes about him, and its not going well

Most people, on their best days, would consider this a bad idea. But, following 13 rape accusations, it’s a really bad idea. I wonder what subject internet strangers might reference in their custom memes?

How’s this @BillCosby? — Henster (@Soft_Serve) November 10, 2014

Here you go @BillCosby! #CosbyMeme

— Austin (@DadSelfie) November 10, 2014

The mystery behind Cosby’s fashions revealed! #CosbyMeme

— Myka Fox (@MykaFox) November 10, 2014

Don’t mind if I do… #CosbyMeme — Rusty Redenbacher (@rustymk2) November 10, 2014

RT @BillCosby: Go ahead. Meme me #CosbyMeme — Trillary Banks (@Maxine_Million) November 10, 2014

Jesus Christ RT @TylerIAm: Oh Cos! #Cosbymeme @BillCosby — Heywood Jablomie (@HoodCertified) November 10, 2014

.@BillCosby This is fun! #CosbyMeme — Matthew Bramlett (@matthewbramlett) November 10, 2014

I could do this all day. #CosbyMeme #cosbyproblems

— sideshowRaheem (@sideshowRaheem) November 10, 2014

If you’re a social media manager looking for a new job, we imagine one will be opening up for Bill Cosby really soon.

Update: The original Cosby tweet was deleted, and the meme generator has been removed from his website as of Monday night.

10 Nov 17:50

Before and after powerwashing. New York used to be a much dirtier city back when the Northeast ran on coal plants.

06 Nov 15:19

Furry furniture that looks like taxidermied Dr. Seuss creatures

Golden Corral and Beast Guests, 2014
Texas twins Nikolai and Simon Haas desperately wanted to see the Ralph Bakshi flop, Cool World as kids, but their parents wouldn’t let them. Mom and dad were right. Not only was the the...

06 Nov 19:32

stayuglystayangry: some things you see with your eyes…


some things you see with your eyes…

06 Nov 09:32

(423): Sending a pic of labia to...

(423): Sending a pic of labia to send to the TN Legislator. Obviously they don't think I know what to do with it so I'm gonna ask them for advice.
06 Nov 09:39

Hend Rezk,30 years old,Boxing Egyptian champion from 2000 to...

Hend Rezk,30 years old,Boxing Egyptian champion from 2000 to 2010 and the first in Africa and the Arab World.Hend studied fashion besides boxing and she trains self-defense for girls. #everydayegypt
Picture made by Hadeer Mahmoud @hadeermahmoud1 for @everydayegypt

06 Nov 15:29

The Science of Consuming Photoshop-Heavy Fashion Mags Is More F*cked Up Than You Think

by Hannah Ongley


"These women felt better about their own bodies because they imagined that they could look just like the models they saw in the magazines."
05 Nov 18:58

2016 GOP Frontrunners

by (Jeb Lund)

2016 GOP Candidates: The 'White' Autobots, Beverly D'Angelo's Nude Shower Scene, The Victims in Se7en, A McGriddle Stamping on A Human Face

05 Nov 10:10

Fascinating Vintage Photograhs of Cats in the U.S. Sea Services

by John VE
The ship's cat has been a common feature on many trading, exploration, and naval ships, and dates back to ancient times. Cats have been carried on ships for many reasons, the most important being to catch mice and rats. These rodents aboard a ship can cause damage to ropes, woodwork and after the introduction of steam, electrical wiring. Also, rodents threatened the stores the ship carried. Rodents may devour the foodstuff carried to feed the crew, and could cause economic damage if the ship was carrying grain or similar substances as part of its cargo. Rats and mice were also sources of disease, which is dangerous for ships that are at sea for long periods of time. (Wikipedia)

Here's a collection of historic photos demonstrating the affection the U.S. sea services have had for cats over the years.

Apprentices aboard the USS Pensacola pose with mascot cat and dogs in February 1888. The Pensacola was a screw steamer that participated in Admiral David Farragut's capture of New Orleans in 1862.

Crew of the USS Nahant with their two cats, ca 1898. The Nahant was an ironclad monitor that joined the fleet of Rear Admiral Samual Francis du Pont (for whom Washington, DC's Dupont Circle in named) in the attack on Charleston Harbor in 1863.

Crewmen on the deck of the USS Olympia using a mirror to play with their cats in 1898. The Olympia served as Admiral George Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila during the Spanish American War.

Crewman of the USS Texas pose with mascot dog and cat on the muzzle of one of the ship's 12"/35 guns, ca 1900. Built in 1892, The Texas was the first U.S. battleship and gained a reputation for being jinxed because of a series of accidents. The crew probably hoped the cat and dog would change the ship's luck.

Two cats pose in the breech of a 4" caliber naval gun of an unidentified ship prior to World War One.

See more »
05 Nov 12:45

Killer Uno: The best non-drinking game ever

by Tamara Kraft

uno vector

Waiting one's turn is annoying. We stand in line at the store, sit in our car at traffic lights and chew the inside of our cheek while our coworkers prattle out their complaints in the most endless possible way while we repeat the mental mantra, "Just-let-me-go-already."

This constant vigil of personal restraint can prolapse into bursts of barista abuse, fits of right-hand-lane passing, and colleague strangulation if kept under pressure too long. We need a safe outlet in which to pounce, cuss, fist-pump, gloat, turn the tables and score before we do some actionable damage to ourselves and those around us.

I give you: Killer Uno.

Yes, there are rules. Yes, there are turns. Yes, there is some basic addition involved in the score-keeping. But if you are sober enough to match a color and a number at the same time, you can play when it's not your turn and nobody can stop you. And that is beautiful satisfaction. So much so, you may not even need to kill people this week.

The game is simple. You start with the basic Uno rules that come with the cards. The object is to run out of cards first. Match the color or number of the card showing on the discard pile, play a wild card, or draw. This encompasses the Action Cards (Reverse, Draw 2, Skip) as well. But we don't want to wait our turn, do we? So here's the Killer part:

If you are holding the identical card (same color and symbol) that is showing on the discard pile, play it. Play it fast. Smack it down on the pile before the person whose turn it really is has even decided what he wants to play. There. It's not his turn anymore. Play continues to your left. Unless there is a Reverse card in play, in which case play continues to your right. Felt good, didn't it? A gloating "Whoop!" is appropriate here.

It gets better. You know those pesky Draw Four wild cards? If one gets played on you, and you have one in your hand — you play it! Bam! Now the guy next to you has to draw eight. But wait! The girl across the table just realized she has one, too. Pow! She smacks it down immediately after you do, and now her next-door neighbor has a hand that has grown by twelve cards. Snickers ensue. Cries of relief whoosh out from those saved from drawing.

There is one more house rule we have added to foil the really smart strategic players. The Green Zero.

If a green zero is discarded (there is one per deck), play is halted while everyone passes their entire hand to the person next to her (in the reverse direction of current play). Play continues as before. That guy who was just about to go out now has a really ugly hand. You probably do, too.

Other details:

  • This game is best played with 6-10 players. We use two sets of cards for best impact and least re-shuffling.
  • Identical cards may be played together: Have two Yellow Draw Two cards in your hand? Play them at the same time to make the next person draw four. Two Red Reverses? Play them together and they cancel each other out. Three Green Skips? Play them together and skip the next three players' turns.
  • Don't have a card to play when it's your turn? Draw until you do, or until someone else realizes they can and puts you out of your misery.
  • Don't forget to call "Uno!" when you have one card left. If someone else beats you to it, you must draw two cards.


  • Black cards are 50 points.
  • Action cards are 20.
  • Number cards are face value.
  • When someone discards his last card, play stops and everyone counts up what is left in their hand. The player to reach 500 points first is the loser. This is a good time to break for food and drink.

Advanced strategies:

  • Round tables even the odds. Players with long arms have the advantage of reaching the discard pile faster when racing to play out of turn.
  • Keep nail-clippers available for your guests. Blood droplets from scrabbling players make the cards sticky.
  • Quiet, polite people tend to have atomic elbows. Body-blocks can be strategic.
  • Couples should not always sit next to each other. You'll see.

Now go play!

Recent Comments

  • Tamara: Excellent reference, Emillie! Your point about the spockish Draw 4 card brings up a huge debate I left out of this … [Link]
  • Emillie: This sounds a LOT like the German version of Uno which is called Solo. It's basically Uno with these … [Link]
  • Alissa: We broke my friend's back playing Cards Against Humanity. No joke. He was laughing so hard that he wrenched his … [Link]
  • Tamara: Kat, Someone at work today told me that in their version, playing a 7 lets you trade hands with anyone at … [Link]
  • Tamara: Is it bad that I'm cracking up? Card-game-related surgery. Sheesh. [Link]

+ 27 more! Join the discussion

03 Nov 17:00

This Tree Looks Like a Dragon's Head

by John Farrier

Here be dragons!

Or rather, on the south side of Rabat, Morocco, there's a dragon growing out of the ground. Redditor seiteta snapped this photo of a tree that is growing just the right way to inspire a fantasy novel.

-via Geek Tyrant

04 Nov 21:45

Russell Brand’s revolutionary bubble burst by Blur’s ‘Parklife’

It has taken just one word, one word to burst Russell Brand’s revolutionary bubble of being some kind of modern day “Che Guevara.”

One word, and all his pompous verbosity and over-weening self-aggrandizing vanity is turned to great comic effect.

The word is “Parklife” as in...

03 Nov 21:00

On the Street…Fifth Ave., New York

by The Sartorialist


03 Nov 08:01

Just Sit Idly Die

by Ronnie
03 Nov 16:57

too much mustard — pittsburgh’s editorial difficulties

by Rob Press
02 Nov 00:19

Iconic Doctor Who Villain Changes Gender

by Amy Walker


Tonight saw the amazing return of iconic Doctor Who villain, and my personal all-time favourite, The Master. However, a lot of people found this reappearance surprising, and in some cases disturbing, as he is now a she.

It would appear that during The Masters last regeneration he transformed into a woman, now calling herself The Mistress, or Missy for short. Played by the brilliant Michelle Gomez, Missy has been making appearances during the series since Peter Capaldi’s first episode ‘Deep Breath’. Many quick minded fans, myself included, put together the connection from her name and went into the episode hoping eagerly for the reveal we were given.

The series has toyed with the idea that Galliferyans (remember guys, Time Lord/Lady is a title not the name of the race) can also change gender when they regenerate, even stating very clearly in the 2009 episode ‘The Doctors Wife’ that it is a possibility. This episode, however, makes the first time in the series that we have actually seen it in the flesh.

There were many reactions to the reveal on the internet, particularly Twitter, some very pleased with the revelation, some a little less so.

A huge range of reactions from the fans. I even chuckled a little at the Brian Blessed one.

For all those people who are complaining that The Master is now a woman and are quitting the series. Good. The rest of us don’t want you. If a character that belongs to a species that changes their bodies when they’re dying becoming female disturbs you then there’s something wrong with you. What is I was a black Master, or Asian? Would that be terrible then too? What happens eventually when the Doctor changes gender?

Oh, we all know that that day is coming. Fans have been clamouring for it for a long time now. And that’s probably what this is about. Yes, it’s some brilliant storytelling and one of the best things they’ve done to the character in decades, but it’s very clearly a test run to see how people react. A female Doctor is coming one day, though hopefully not for a while because Capaldi is brilliant.

At the end of the day who cares if the Master is a man or a woman? As long as she’s good in the role, and so far she’s been absolutely brilliant and I want loads more of her, it shouldn’t matter at all.


On Twitter @Amazing_Amy_W and her amazing blog Trans Girl Writer.blogspot.

01 Nov 15:50

Doge and Halloween :3