Shared posts

23 Jun 14:05

In Which We Have More Hair Than We Know What To Do With

by Durga

Dream People

by ETHAN PETERSON

Cleverman
creators Ryan Griffen, Michael Miller & Jon Bell
SundanceTV

Watching Cleverman on SundanceTV this week I was reminded of how completely America has erased its indigenous people from contemporary culture. In Australia, a different state of affairs exists. Aboriginal people are always at the edge of Australian culture, but their mature concepts and themes have a deep influence on how Australians define themselves as the people.

Koen West (Hunter Page-Lochard) has integrated himself completely into this people. He runs a bar with a friend and fucks the guy's girlfriend in the back between serving pints. On the side he makes money relocating Hairies (a native species divergent from humans with immense strength and speed) to secret housing and then reporting their whereabouts to the government, who persecute them out of fear.

Every single character in Cleverman has this potential for evil, and while it would be farfetched to say this is an Australian characteristic, it reflects a basic guilt for the essential crimes against the aboriginal people that the United States pretends to have resolved through casinos and lenient tax situations.

Koen becomes a cleverman in the show's pilot, which among other things gives him the power to see individual's futures through touch, as well as almost unlimited healing. This gift from his uncle alters the fabric of who he is, and gives him a new perspective on his shitty, drug and sex-fueled life.

His primary antagonists on Cleverman carry most of the action, and they are what make the show so much fun to watch. The first is Jarrod Slade (Iain Glen), a media executive much closer than Ser Jorah Mormont to Glen's natural strengths of steely resolve and an unclear sense of what is moral in the world. His wife Charlotte (Frances O'Connor) looks to have barely aged in the nearly two decades since she starred as Fanny Price in Mansfield Park.

The casting of the two as a couple with vague sympathies towards aboriginal people and Hairies makes the de facto Australian point of view. Cleverman features a somewhat light commentary on how we view the various problems of immigration and cultural minorities with different beliefs. Cleary and Slade's waterfront home is a metaphor for how their literal positioning of privilege keeps them apart from the realities of such debates, and the protection of their wealth seems a tad bit convenient for this fractured milieu.

The other antagonist is Koen's brother, the wonderfully certain and slightly demonic Waruu (Rob Collins, in a breakout role). Collins has a young daughter and a wife he cheats on with a white woman. Besides his infidelity, his only crime is that he is not the cleverman he expected to become when his uncle died. The concept of a character who is ruined by being denied one thing - when he has everything else - is kind of Oedipal. In any case, it is somewhat unusual in serial television.

The weakest part of Cleverman is the plight of a family of Hairies who Koen betrayed. Their incarceration by a bunch of vindictive and malevolent prison guards is the only part of the show without shades of grey. It seems too grim an indictment on the Australian people that they would allow torture and murder of any species. Observing these creatures of transparently applied makeup is hard enough without seeing them shocked and bled.

While British shows have found an easier time appealing to American audiences, a more difficult accent, lower production values and a less similar environment have slowed the inroads of the up-and-coming Australian film and television industry. Cleverman hurdles these difficulties through impressive production values, a variety of gorgeous locations and Ser Jorah Mormont and his wife. Initially the political messages seem a little abstruse, but that can be solved over time. 

Despite small missteps, Cleverman's blend of horror and near-future science fiction gives the series an exciting base. The show is noticeably short on action so far, but that energy seems to have gone into showing us all the angles of its conflicted, embattled characters. Cleverman is the only show of recent note that gives me the feeling that actual life conveys at moments – of a difficult slog dotted by brief moments of incandescent beauty and love.

Ethan Peterson is the senior contributor to This Recording.

23 Jun 15:17

Marrickville Food Tour: Open Marrickville and Community Kouzina

by Helen (Grab Your Fork)
Fifteen kitchens in Marrickville. Fifteen kitchens in Kos, a small island in Greece. Eleni Christou came up with the idea of Community Kouzina Project, a means of insight into what, how and why different people cook the way they do. Eleni, who has a Masters in Applied Anthropology, visited the homes of friends and strangers in Marrickville and Kos, backed by a grant from Marrickville Council to
21 Jun 18:15

5 Foods That The Japanese Have Perfected!

Fergus Noodle

She weirdly talks about using a proper knife to eat her french toast. Also the best thing in Japan is the drinks der.

Confession time: I am an avid Japanophile. Japan is a country that invents a lot but it is also a country that and refines and perfects concepts. Think electronics, cars and food. And on our recent trip we discovered that they had indeed perfected already popular items like French toast, soft serve, fruit, pastry and beef but with their very own twist. White strawberry or olive beef anyone?
17 Jun 18:34

Choose Your Own Adventure At Crumble Top, Newtown

Fergus Noodle

Ooh I wanna go here

Well we've got two months to go of Winter and what better to do than make the most of the best winter food on offer? And there isn't a dessert much more Winter friendly than a fruit and pudding crumble. But what if you could get your crumble customised using a range of nine filling and nine crumble toppings? And that's not even counting the sauces and ice creams that come with it.
16 Jun 16:25

In Which We Search Desperately For The Real Villains

by Durga

Comfortable Men

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Nice Guys
dir. Shane Black
119 minutes
 

I started to ask myself: who would I be if I didn't live in a world that hated women? I've been unable to come up with a satisfactory answer, but I did realize I've long been mourning this version of myself that never existed. - Jessica Valenti

Earlier this year an employee was fired at Nintendo of America after a group of misogynist messageboard posters targeted her as a perpetrator in the heady crime of making changes to an American release of a Japanese game. (She wasn't responsible for those alterations, not that it matters.) They started "researching" her past and decided to shame her for various opinions she held in her dissertation about the prosecution of sex crimes. Nintendo responded by digging further into the woman's life, uncovering a job she performed in order to supplement the measly income and health insurance she made working for the company. They fired her for this moonlighting, even though it was explicitly allowed in her contract. It was nothing more than an excuse to side with trolls over a talented member of their own company.

The women-haters who brought this all about seem like the real villains of this story. But there are worse ones: men (and sometimes women) who buy into harassment and support the atmosphere it generates. These good-intentioned people — how often we hear them say they love women — have a distinct point where they completely capitulate to pressure of any kind. They are comfortable with the concept of women as long as the women in question are simultaneously making them comfortable. Enter the nice guys.

It is perhaps natural that fathers today want to protect their daughters more than ever. Star of The Nice Guys Holland March (Ryan Gosling) does not particularly subscribe to this point of view. After the death of his wife, he is raising his daughter Holly (Australian actress Angourie Rice) on the wages of a private eye. During her summer off from school, Holly tries to aid her helpless pop on a case where he attempts to determine the whereabouts of a pornographic actress named Amelia (Margaret Qualley).

Holly is almost shot, murdered with a knife, run over by a car and abducted throughout Shane Black's The Nice Guys. At the end of it you would be hard pressed to say that Holland is any kind of a good parent, but you have to give him credit for allowing his daughter to be her own person, albeit a miniaturized version of himself. "I hate you," she tells her dad during one particularly feisty moment, but the rest of the time she is simply upset whenever she is not included in the excitement of his job. 

The rest of the women in The Nice Guys are either evil beasts doing the bidding of men, or whores. Judith Kutner (Kim Basinger) appears halfway through the film as a cold-blooded concerned mother. In The Nice Guys, Basinger portrays the head of the Justice Department, a lawyer working for the car manufacturers in order to ensure they are not penalized for defying environmental regulations. She hires the nice guys to find her daughter; instead her daughter is murdered and she does not even get a refund.

The joke Black is making is that there are no nice guys. Exhibit A: the closest Black has ever come to writing an effective woman character is a thirteen-year-old virtually identical to Nancy Drew. Still, you have to give him points for effort. Unlike the producers of the new Ghostbusters, he knows his own limitations.

A particularly wretched article appeared in The New York Times recently, announcing that anyone who thought Paul Feig was less than a complete genius (for his patronizing character of a ghettoized black woman?) is a person who clearly hates women.

Paul Feig is another "nice guy," only he isn't very nice and he can't write women for shit either. I guess some credit goes to him for making an action film with an all-woman cast. The fact that is a cynical cash-in on fan nostalgia and the movie looks completely tone-deaf and unfunny, not to mention borderline racist, is besides the point. This particular beacon of feminism is a man drawing a huge paycheck for making a group of talented women the focal point for a hate campaign while he lurks in the shadows.

Feig's last movie was quite financially successful as well. It spent a solid two hours making fat jokes about Melissa McCarthy — but hey, since she was the star, it was a progressive piece of revolutionary feminism. Actually, Spy was mean-spirited and awful, and anyone involved in its production should be pretty ashamed of the Chuck Lorre-esque bigotry the movie espoused. It may have somehow escaped the notice of those determined to justify everything that this nice guy does, but women have — gasp! — been starring as the lead draws in feature films long before Paul Feig was born.

Maybe it is as Jessica Valenti says in her new memoir, and the whole world hates women. This does not mean, prima facie, that this was always so. Women did rule nations, empires. They accomplished a lot before The Nice Guys ever came onto the scene. Given the title Shane Black gives to his movie, you would have thought there was some larger point at work here about men's relationship to women. Instead The Nice Guys becomes turgidly boring after an entertaining first hour, subsisting mostly on Black's back-and-forth banter. The basic overall message of the film is how difficult it is being a good person.

Russell Crowe has no chemistry with Gosling for some reason, which is how The Nice Guys falls apart. The two men have very little in common besides their occupation and their status as bachelors. Despite the insanely long running time of The Nice Guys, neither ever even meets or approaches a woman in a sexual way. It is as if Black believes that treating a woman as a romantic equal is ultimately too much like objectifying her as a sexual object. Except for very young girls who might be their daughters, Gosling and Crowe's characters are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of adult women.

One scene near the end of the film is particularly disturbing in that regard. Gosling and Crowe wait in the lobby of a courthouse after testifying in front of a grand jury about the machinations of Kim Basinger's corrupt lawyer. She goes over to sit by them and explain her actions and sadness at her daughter Amelia's death. Strangely, the two men cannot even bring themselves to look at her face, that of a grieving mother. Instead Gosling speaks in German, comparing this powerful fallen, woman to Adolf Hitler.

Whether or not there is an active misogyny behind this filmmaking, I don't really know or care. It used to be that Hollywood was where society took steps forward; now film is purely a reactionary medium. Even contrived, white savior stories like Mississippi Burning and Schindler's List did the important work of showing why human beings deserved to be treated as equals. The Nice Guys barely believes that women exist as anything other than children. This horrendous state of affairs really stands out when a B-tier remake of a soulless franchise that was never really much to begin with, directed by a man, becomes a rallying cry. Women actually do make films — it's not just the nice guys.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.


20 Jun 18:16

Vanessa, The Mysterious Black Sesame Chiffon Sponge Cake

This dark goddess that I've named Vanessa after the name I always wanted as a teenager, is a real beauty. She is a chiffon sponge with a dark grey exterior and a mysterious black sesame flavour base. The rest is a beautiful lightness where she is lifted to the heavens with whisked egg whites and sugar. Last but not least, her decoration is a jewellery box selection of the prettiest, brightest berries, cut to glisten on top. Approach Vanessa with nothing but adoration!
16 Jun 00:00

Wishing Upon a Michelin Star in Macau

Fergus Noodle

hedgehog bun! this looks like a crazy good holiday to get for free!

The view of Macau from the boat is hazy, the sun casting a golden, radiating glow but the glass is so weather worn and in need of a clean that it's impossible to get a clear view of our destination, Macau. It is a 70 minute Turbo Jet ferry ride from Hong Kong to arrive at the sub tropical peninsula south west of Hong Kong. We get a clearer view of Macau from the pier to our hotel. There are certainly the futuristic city scapes that Asia is known for but there are also quirky Disney-esque buildings that look like they have been transported from the set of a child's fantasy play date. And there is also the glitz and glamour and bright lights that remind us of Las Vegas. And plenty of stars-Michelin stars that is.
12 Jun 18:33

How To Make Your Own Amazingly Delicious Turkish Pide!

Wow. Just wow. The moment I pulled these Turkish pide out of the oven I knew that they would be good. But I wasn't quite prepared for how really amazing they would be. Turkish pide are breads that have a centre of filling-be it beef, cheese or vegetarian. Pide is usually shaped in an oval or "boat" or round shape and is commonly described as a Turkish pizza.
12 Jun 18:25

36 Hours, Four Violent Men, and One American Ideology

by Lisa Wade, PhD

America woke up this weekend to the news of the deadliest civilian mass shooting in the nation’s history. The senseless tragedy will undoubtedly evoke anger, sadness and helplessness.

In the meantime, many will forget to think and talk about Stanford swimmer Brock Turner’s crime and his “summer vacation” jail sentence: three months for the vile sexual assault of an unconscious woman.

As a sociologist, I was struck not by the abrupt shift to a new moral crisis, but by the continuity. Sociologists look for the bigger picture, and in my mind, Mateen’s crime didn’t displace Turner’s. Yet the media simply replaced one outrage with another, moving our attention away from Stanford and toward Orlando, as if these two crimes were unrelated. They’re not.

Status, masculinity and sexual assault

Brock Turner was an all-American boy: a white, Division I swimmer at one of the nation’s top universities. What he did to his victim was arguably all-American, too, confirmed by decades of research tying rape to a sense of male superiority and entitlement.

I study sex on campus, where sexual violence is perpetrated disproportionately by “high-status” men – fraternity men and certain male athletes in particular. These men are more likely than other men to endorse the sexual double standard, believing that they are justified in praising sexually active men, while condemning and even abusing women who are less sexually active.

They are also more likely to promote homophobia, hypermasculinity and male dominance; tolerate violent and sexist jokes; endorse misogynistic attitudes and behaviors; and endorse false beliefs about rape. Accordingly, athletes are responsible for an outsized number of sexual assaults on campus, and women who attend fraternity parties are significantly more likely to be assaulted than those who attend other parties with alcohol and those who don’t go to parties at all.

Status, masculinity and violent homophobia

Omar Mateen’s crime is related to this strand of masculinity. Mateen’s father told the media that his son had previously been angered by the sight of two men kissing, and reports claim that he was a “regular” at the Pulse nightclub and was known to use a gay hookup app.

Anti-gay hate crimes, like violence against women (Mateen also reportedly beat his ex-wife), are tied closely to rigid and hierarchical ideas about masculinity that depend on differentiating “real” men from women as well as gay and bisexual men. Men who experience homoerotic feelings themselves sometimes erupt into especially aggressive homophobia.

As the sociologist Michael Kimmel has argued, while we talk ad infinitum about guns, mental illness and, in this case, Islamic identity, we miss the strongest unifying factor: these mass murderers are men, almost to the last one. In his book Guyland,” Kimmel argues that as many boys grow into men, “they learn that they are entitled to feel like a real man, and that they have the right to annihilate anyone who challenges that sense of entitlement.”

He means “annihilate” literally.

We now know that many boys who descend on their schools with guns are motivated by fears that they are perceived as homosexual and that attacking suspected or known homosexuals is a way for boys to demonstrate heterosexuality to their peers.

It makes sense to me, as a woman, that men would fear gay men because such men threaten to put other men under the same sexually objectifying, predatory, always potentially threatening gaze that most women learn to live with as a matter of course. Being looked at by a gay man threatens to turn any man into a figurative woman: subordinate, weak, penetrable. That can be threatening enough to a man invested in masculinity, but discovering that he enjoys being the object of other men’s desires – being put in the position of a woman – could stoke both internalized and externalized homophobia even further.

Meanwhile, gay men, by their very existence, challenge male dominance by undermining the link between maleness and the sexual domination of women. It’s possible that Mateen, enraged by his inability to stop men from kissing in public and struggling with self-hatred, took it upon himself to annihilate the people who dared pierce the illusion that manhood and the righteous sexual domination of women naturally go hand-in-hand.

The common denominator

Mass shootings, frighteningly, appear to have become a part of our American cultural vernacular, a shared way for certain men to protest threats to their entitlement and defend the hierarchy their identities depend on. As the sociologists Tristan Bridges and Tara Leigh Tober wrote last year for the website Feminist Reflections:

This type of rampage violence happens more in the United States of America than anywhere else… Gun control is a significant part of the problem. But, gun control is only a partial explanation for mass shootings in the United States. Mass shootings are also almost universally committed by men. So, this is not just an American problem; it’s a problem related to American masculinity and to the ways American men use guns.

Some members of the media and candidates for higher office will focus exclusively on Mateen’s Afghan parents. But he – just like Brock Turner – was born, raised and made a man right here in America. While it appears that he had (possibly aspirational) links to ISIS, it in no way undermines his American-ness. This was terrorism, yes, but it was domestic terrorism: of, by and aimed at Americans.

I don’t want to force us all to keep Turner in the news (though I imagine that he and his father are breathing a perverse sigh of relief right now). I want to remind us to keep the generalities in mind even as we mourn the particulars.

Sociologists are pattern seekers. This problem is bigger than Brock Turner and Omar Mateen. It’s Kevin James Loibl, who sought out and killed the singer Christina Grimmie the night before the massacre at Pulse. It’s James Wesley Howell, who was caught with explosives on his way to the Los Angeles Pride Parade later that morning. It’s the grotesque list of men who used guns to defend their sense of superiority that I collected and documented last summer.

The problem is men’s investment in masculinity itself. It offers rewards only because at least some people agree that it makes a person better than someone else. That sense of superiority is, arguably, why men like Turner feel entitled to violating an unconscious woman’s body and why ones like Mateen will defend it with murderous rampages, even if it means destroying themselves in the process. And unless something changes, there will be another sickening crisis to turn to, and another sinking sense of familiarity.

Cross-posted at The Conversation, New Republic, Special Broadcasting Company (SBS)United Press InternationalNewsweek Japan (in Japanese), and Femidea (in Korean).

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and Gender, a textbook. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

04 Jun 03:33

A slow week and a house auction.

by noreply@blogger.com (Merlesworld)
Fergus Noodle

This house is so ugly

Quiet week last week one and a half days I was very ill, throwing up on Wednesday night and Thursday not to good at all, have no idea why.
One of those 24 hour things but mine went a bit longer, ok now but still off my food, well that won't hurt too much I have reservers.
Kicked Leeroy out of the bedroom so she moved into the guest room between the warm quilts just check out the look I'm getting, will leave her in peace.

Made a blanket for my grandchildren.
Took a picture of this wonderful tree on the way home from Bingo on Monday.
On Saturday the house on the corner was Auctioned so of course we went to have a look.
 Everything is brand new not as flashy as I thought but this is the most buttons I have ever seen on a shower, 3 bathrooms all with these controls.
 I have never seen so many perfumes on a dressing table before not sure why they left the deodorant and vaseline in view
 The light in the stairs was truly different as were all the curtains.
 Only one wardrobe storage would be a problem, the beer fairy was surprised they had fitted 5 bedrooms, it was 2 story but the block is very small .
 But these washbasins were very different, two of the bathrooms had these.
 This was the top of the shower.
The other gold bowl.
The Auction didn't go well they wanted to start at $950,000 but only got one offer at $850,000 so it was passed in, will let you know how much when I hear through the grapevine.
Lots of rain here at the moment but the rain held off for the auction so they were lucky there.
06 Jun 18:11

Penelope, the Passionfruit Raspberry Layer Cake!

When I was little my favourite ever ice cream was a simple ice cream in a cup. It was called a Twister and it was vanilla ice cream swirled with raspberry sauce and passionfruit. Except nobody really knows what I'm talking about because apparently I was the only customer of the Twister and when I talk to my friends about it they talk about other ice blocks. The Twister has since been replaced by a much fancier version that is nothing like the original. But because I have the food memory of an elephant, I still love the original Twister mainly for the combination of flavours. I think it was the tartish passionfruit and raspberry and the creamy vanilla that I adored so much. So I decided to make it into a cake, of course!
05 Jun 18:13

Ladies & Gentlemen, An Afternoon Tea for Both Genders!

Fergus Noodle

FINALLY high tea for men!

There's a new 5 star hotel in town and with it is a new place for afternoon tea. There are three afternoon offerings at the Art Deco Primus Hotel and if you think it's more a past time for women then you might be wrong because there's also a gentleman's version. And don't bypass the cocktails too - they come out with a flourish!
05 Jun 17:15

Jasmin, 21

“It's all second hand; the shoes are Jeffrey Campbell and the dress I found in Korea. I go with what I feel and let the emotions kind of do the picking. I don't want to copy, and I hate to look like everyone else, so the inspiration has to come from somewhere else than mass media. I love dresses. Unique, for sure, but also comfortable, and nowadays I also love wearing clothes that are as ethical as possible.”

25 May 2016, Erottaja

04 Jun 06:10

Tsunami evacuation map for New South Wales

by Saving Our Trees
Fergus Noodle

Phew, we are safe

Yesterday the NSW State Emergency Service released a tsunami evacuation map for New South Wales.  The map shows all the areas that lie – under 10-metres above sea level, are 1 km or less inland & are 10 km up an estuary. This includes Marrickville, Dulwich Hill, Tempe, Sydenham, St Peters & Lewisham.  Other suburbs […]
26 May 17:36

Quote of the Day: “You’re a Bigot, Lady”

by Dana Bolger

All hail Zoe Lofgren, congresswoman from California’s 19th district, and queen of my heart.

On Tuesday, during a congressional hearing, Lofgren took down one of the witnesses for her blatant transphobia.

 

The witness, University of San Diego law professor Gail Heriot, lambasted the recent Departments of Justice and Education guidance on transgender students’ rights, declaring that “[i]f someone had said in 1972 that one day Title IX would be interpreted to force schools to allow anatomically intact boys who psychologically ‘identify’ as girls to use the girls’ locker room, he would have been greeted with hoots of laughter.” Heriot went on to dismiss trans students’ gender identities as “a fantasy,” asserting that, “I [am not] a great-horned owl just because, as I have been told, I happen to share some personality traits with those feathered creatures.”

Lofgren wasn’t having any of it. She condemned Heriot’s transphobia, noted the disproportionately high rates of violence and discrimination that trans students suffer, and declared her objection that Heriot’s hateful comments — many of which, by the way, are legally suspect in addition to unethical and bigoted — were ever entered into the record to begin with.

Then, over the objections of Republican Chairman King — who demanded “civil” language from Lofgren but (of course) not from Heriot — Lofgren declared:

I think you’re a bigot lady. I think you’re an ignorant bigot.

Mic drop.

As eleven states sue the Obama Administration for its recent efforts to protect trans students — arguing that they should be able to use federal funds to discriminate against kids — I’m grateful that there are still a few good politicians out there. Thank you, Representative Lofgren, for calling hate, violence, and discrimination what it is.

You can watch the hearing in full here. Transcript of Lofgren and Heriot’s exchange after the jump.

Zoe Lofgren: I don’t usually call out witnesses but here’s what the written testimony says, and this is Mrs. Heriot:

We are teaching young people a terrible lesson. “I believe that I am a Russian princess.” That doesn’t make me a Russian princess, even if my friends and acquaintances are willing to indulge my fantasy. Nor am I a great-horned owl just because, as I have been told, I happen to share some personality traits with those feathered creatures.

I’ve gotta say I found this rather offensive. It says, to me, that the witness really doesn’t know anything and probably has never met a transgender child, who is going through, in almost every case, a very difficult experience finding themselves. And I believe that the Department’s guidance will help schools all over the United States in preventing the kind of violence and harassment that these transgender kids find too often. That’s all I’m gonna say on that. I think it’s very regrettable that that comment was put into the record and I think it’s highly offensive.

Gail Heriot: Well could I comment on that please?

ZL: No, it’s just my opinion…

GH: I think you’ll find that many people find it very offensive that the Department of Education…

ZL: I think you’re a bigot, lady.

GH: …thinks that they can tell schools…

ZL: …I think you are an ignorant bigot…

Chairman Steve King: Gentle lady from California will suspend, you’re out of order.

ZL: She’s out of order.

SK: We don’t call names in this committee and you will not be recognized to do that.

ZL: Mr. Chairman, it is my time. And I would just like to say that we allow witnesses to say offensive things, but I cannot allow that kind of bigotry to go into the record unchallenged. I don’t want to get into a debate about it…

GH: Does that mean you think I am a Russian Princess?

25 May 18:14

The World's Best French Toast: Cafe Aaliya Copycat French Toast Recipe

It's a big boast to say that something is the world's best. I mean anyone's world could really be the four corners of their house or the suburb that they live in but when I visited Tokyo recently, there was one thing that I was constantly being told: the French toast at Cafe Aaliya in Shinjuku was the best French toast **in the world**. And I have the copycat recipe for you!
24 May 18:20

Here’s Why It Took the US Almost 80 Years to Ban Lead Pipes

by Lisa Wade, PhD

Taking a cue from sociologists, The Nightly Show has started a segment called the “Super Depressing Deep Dive.” In the five minute segment I’ve embedded below, they explain that we’ve known that lead was highly toxic since 1904, but the US didn’t ban lead paint until 1978 and lead pipes even later. Why not?

Looking at the evidence piling up, the League of Nations encouraged all nations to stop the use of lead paint in 1922, but the United States didn’t sign on. They deferred to the industry — the Lead Industries Association and the National Paint, Varnish, and Lacquer Association — who successfully lobbied the federal government. Not only did the US decline to ban the substance, in 1938 the government actually mandated that lead paint be used in housing projects for poor people, putting the lead industries profits above the health of poor children.

The industry also fought warning labels, criticized the science, sued at least one source — a television show — for telling the truth about lead, and blamed the victim, claiming that the real problem was “uneducable Negro and Puerto Rican” parents who failed to adequately protect their children. They even dispensed pro-lead propaganda directly to kids, like in this page from a free children’s book distributed by a paint company in which a pair of rubber boots say to the child (bottom right):

You knew when we were moulded
The man who made us said
We’re strong and tough and lively
Because in us there’s lead.

8

Because of the disproportionate impact on the poor and racial minorities, the Black Panthers made fighting lead paint a part of their mission and their work ultimately contributed to the banning of lead paint in 1978 and pipes in the 1980s. By that time, though, the damage was done. Lead pipes are still in the ground and lead paint continues to be a serious threat in poor neighborhoods, doing irreparable damage to the lives of poor children and the communities they are a part of.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and Gender, a textbook. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

22 May 18:37

4 FANTASTIC Vegan Places That Even Non Vegans Will Enjoy!

With more and more people turning vegan chances are if you aren't one yourself then you'll have a friend or a relative that is vegan. But rather than it be a struggle to find a place that satisfies both of you take a peek at this list of four great vegan restaurants that will satisfy even the most voracious meat lover!
19 May 23:00

まるです。

by mugumogu



まる:「さてと、ここで寝ますか。」
Maru:[I intend to sleep here.]

と、見せかけて――

まる:「まるダーイブ!」
Maru:[Jsut kidding!]


はな:「きゃー!」
Hana:[Ouch!]

珍しくまるの不意打ち作戦成功。
Maru's strategy unusually succeeded.


18 May 16:28

PAZAR Food Collective, Canterbury

by Helen (Grab Your Fork)
If he had it his way, Attila Yilmaz would be back in the police force tomorrow. After twelve years as a police officer, Yilmaz was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, retiring as a leading senior constable in 2011. Five years later, he still struggles to sleep. Those restless nights are now used to jot down ideas and recipes for his flourishing new career, as chef and owner of Pazar
12 May 18:10

Carding Sites Turn to the ‘Dark Cloud’

by BrianKrebs
Fergus Noodle

I just wanna say Dark Cloud criminal hosting environment

Crooks who peddle stolen credit cards on the Internet face a constant challenge: Keeping their shops online and reachable in the face of meddling from law enforcement officials, security firms, researchers and vigilantes. In this post, we’ll examine a large collection of hacked computers around the world that currently serves as a criminal cloud hosting environment for a variety of cybercrime operations, from sending spam to hosting malicious software and stolen credit card shops.

I first became aware of this botnet, which I’ve been referring to as the “Dark Cloud” for want of a better term, after hearing from Noah Dunker, director of security labs at  Kansas City-based vendor RiskAnalytics. Dunker reached out after watching a Youtube video I posted that featured some existing and historic credit card fraud sites. He asked what I knew about one of the carding sites in the video: A fraud shop called “Uncle Sam,” whose home page pictures a pointing Uncle Sam saying “I want YOU to swipe.”

The "Uncle Sam" carding shop is one of a half-dozen that reside on a Dark Cloud criminal hosting environment.

The “Uncle Sam” carding shop is one of a half-dozen that reside on a Dark Cloud criminal hosting environment.

I confessed that I knew little of this shop other than its existence, and asked why he was so interested in this particular crime store. Dunker showed me how the Uncle Sam card shop and at least four others were hosted by the same Dark Cloud, and how the system changed the Internet address of each Web site roughly every three minutes. The entire robot network, or”botnet,” consisted of thousands of hacked home computers spread across virtually every time zone in the world, he said. 

Dunker urged me not to take his word for it, but to check for myself the domain name server (DNS) settings of the Uncle Sam shop every few minutes. DNS acts as a kind of Internet white pages, by translating Web site names to numeric addresses that are easier for computers to navigate. The way this so-called “fast-flux” botnet works is that it automatically updates the DNS records of each site hosted in the Dark Cloud every few minutes, randomly shuffling the Internet address of every site on the network from one compromised machine to another in a bid to frustrate those who might try to take the sites offline.

Sure enough, a simple script was all it took to find a few dozen Internet addresses assigned to the Uncle Sam shop over just 20 minutes of running the script. When I let the DNS lookup script run overnight, it came back with more than 1,000 unique addresses to which the site had been moved during the 12 or so hours I let it run. According to Dunker, the vast majority of those Internet addresses (> 80 percent) tie back to home Internet connections in Ukraine, with the rest in Russia and Romania.

'Mr. Bin,' another carding shop hosting on the dark cloud service. A 'bin' is the "bank identification number" or the first six digits on a card, and it's mainly how fraudsters search for stolen cards.

‘Mr. Bin,’ another carding shop hosting on the dark cloud service. A ‘bin’ is the “bank identification number” or the first six digits on a card, and it’s mainly how fraudsters search for stolen cards.

“Right now there’s probably over 2,000 infected endpoints that are mostly broadband subscribers in Eastern Europe,” enslaved as part of this botnet, Dunker said. “It’s a highly functional network, and it feels kind of like a black market version of Amazon Web Services. Some of the systems appear to be used for sending spam and some are for big dynamic scaled content delivery.”

Dunker said that historic DNS records indicate that this botnet has been in operation for at least the past year, but that there are signs it was up and running as early as Summer 2014.

Wayne Crowder, director of threat intelligence for RiskAnalytics, said the botnet appears to be a network structure set up to push different crimeware, including ransomware, click fraud tools, banking Trojans and spam.

Crowder said the Windows-based malware that powers the botnet assigns infected hosts different roles, depending on the victim machine’s strengths or weaknesses: More powerful systems might be used as DNS servers, while infected systems behind home routers may be infected with a “reverse proxy,” which lets the attackers control the system remotely.

“Once it’s infected, it phones home and gets a role assigned to it,” Crowder said. “That may be to continue sending spam, host a reverse proxy, or run a DNS server. It kind of depends on what capabilities it has.”

"Popeye," another carding site hosted on the criminal cloud network.

“Popeye,” another carding site hosted on the criminal cloud network.

Indeed, this network does feel rather spammy. In my book Spam Nation, I detailed how the largest spam affiliate program on the planet at the time used a similar fast-flux network of compromised systems to host its network of pill sites that were being promoted in the junk email. Many of the domains used in those spam campaigns were two- and three-word domains that appeared to be randomly created for use in malware and spam distribution.

“We’re seeing two English words separated by a dash,” Dunker said the hundreds of hostnames found on the dark cloud network that do not appear to be used for carding shops. “It’s a very spammy naming convention.”

It’s unclear whether this botnet is being used by more than one individual or group. The variety of crimeware campaigns that RiskAnalytics has tracked operated through the network suggests that it may be rented out to multiple different cybercrooks. Still, other clues suggests the whole thing may have been orchestrated by the same gang.

For example, nearly all of the carding sites hosted on the dark cloud network — including Uncle Sam, Scrooge McDuck, Mr. Bin, Try2Swipe, Popeye, and Royaldumps — share the same or very similar site designs. All of them say that customers can look up available cards for sale at the site, but that purchasing the cards requires first contacting the proprietor of the shops directly via instant message.

All six of these shops — and only these six — are advertised prominently on the cybercrime forum prvtzone[dot]su. It is unclear whether this forum is run or frequented by the people who run this botnet, but the forum does heavily steer members interested in carding toward these six carding services. It’s unclear why, but Prvtzone has a Google Analytics tracking ID (UA-65055767) embedded in the HTML source of its page that may hold clues about the proprietors of this crime forum.

The "dumps" section of the cybercrime forum Prvtzone advertises all six of the carding domains found on the fast-flux network.

The “dumps” section of the cybercrime forum Prvtzone advertises all six of the carding domains found on the fast-flux network.

Dunker says he’s convinced it’s one group that occasionally rents out the infrastructure to other criminals.

“At this point, I’m positive that there’s one overarching organized crime operation driving this whole thing,” Dunker said. “But they do appear to be leasing parts of it out to others.”

Dunker and Crowder say they hope to release an initial report on their findings about the botnet sometime next week, but that for now the rabbit hole appears to go quite deep with this crime machine. For instance, there  are several sites hosted on the network that appear to be clones of real businesses selling expensive farm equipment in Europe, and multiple sites report that these are fake companies looking to scam the unwary.

“There are a lot of questions that this research poses that we’d like to be able to answer,” Crowder said.

For now, I’d invite anyone interested to feel free to contribute to the research. This text file contains a historic record of domains I found that are or were at one time tied to the 40 or so Internet addresses I found in my initial, brief DNS scans of this network. Here’s a larger list of some 1,024 addresses that came up when I ran the scan for about 12 hours.

If you liked this story, check out this piece about another carding forum called Joker’s Stash, which also uses a unique communications system to keep itself online and reachable to all comers.

16 May 15:29

The Trucker, His Downfall, and the US Economy

by Lisa Wade, PhD

According to this graphic by NPR, “truck driver” is the most common occupation in most US states:

4

But truck driving isn’t what it used to be. In 1980, truckers made the equivalent of $110,000 annually; today, the average trucker makes $40,000. What happened to this omnipresent American occupation?

At the Atlantic, sociologist Steve Viscelli describes his research on truckers. He took an entry level long-haul trucking job, interviewed workers, and studied its history. He found that the industry had essentially eviscerated worker pay, largely by turning truckers into independent contractors, misleading them about the benefits of this arrangement, and locking them into punitive contracts.

Viscelli argues that few truckers are fully informed as to what it means to be an independent contractor, at least at first. Trucking companies sell them on the idea that they’ll be their own boss and set their own hours, but they don’t emphasize that they will pay significantly more taxes, their own expenses, and the lease on a truck. Viscelli interviews one man who took home the equivalent of 50 cents an hour one week; another week he’d ended up owing the company $100. As independent contractors, he writes, truckers “end up working harder and earning far less than they would otherwise.”

If truckers want to get out of these contracts, the companies can hold their lease over their heads. Truckers sign a years-long contract to lease their truck along with a promise not to work for anyone else. If the contract is violated, the worker is on the hook for the entire lease. This could be tens of thousands of dollars, so the trucker can’t afford to quit. He’s no longer working, in other words, to make money; he’s just working, sometimes for years, to avoid debt.

The decimation of this once strongly middle class job is just one story among many. Add them all up — all of those occupations that no longer provide a middle class income, and the rise of lower paying jobs — and you get the shrinking of the middle class. Since 1970, fewer and fewer Americans qualify as middle income, defined as a household income that is between two-thirds of and double the median, or middle, household income.

You can see it shrink in this graphic by Deseret News using data from the Pew Research Center:

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Part of the reason is that we have transitioned to an industrial economy to one that offers jobs primarily in service (low paying) and knowledge/information (high paying), but the other part is the restructuring of work to increasingly benefit owners, operators, and investors over workers. As the middle class has been shrinking, the productivity of American workers has been climbing, but the workers haven’t been the beneficiaries of their own work. Instead, employers have just been taking a larger and larger share of the value added that workers produce.

Figure from the Wall Street Journal with data from the Economic Policy Institute:

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Between 1948 and 1973, productivity and wages increased at close to the same rate (97% and 91% respectively), but between 1973 and 2014, productivity has continued to climb (increasing by 72%), while wages have not (increasing by only 9%).

This is why so many Americans are struggling to stay afloat today. We’ve designed an economy that makes it ever more difficult to land in the middle class. Trucking isn’t the job it used to be, that is, because we aren’t the country we used to be.

Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

(View original at https://thesocietypages.org/socimages)

15 May 23:00

ブルです。

by mugumogu



ブル:「わい、フレンチブルドッグのブル。新入り。趣味は食べることと昼寝。」
Bull:[Hello, my name is Bull. Nice to meet you!]


ブル:「なあ、兄ちゃん気が合いそーやな。挨拶の鼻チューしてーな。」
Bull:[Hey, kiss me!]



ブル:「おおきに。さっすが兄ちゃん、話がわかるわぁ。」
Bull:[Thank you. I love you!]


ブル:「こっちの姉ちゃんは気が強そうやなぁ。
ま、ええわ。挨拶の鼻チューよろしく。」
Bull:[Hey young girl, you should kiss me, too!]

はな:「なんとなく――」
Hana:[No!]


はな:「ガブッ!」
Hana:[I bite you!]

ブル:「痛いやないけ!!」
Bull:[Ouch!!]


19 May 03:16

Become part of a tree after you die

by Saving Our Trees
I love memorial trees.  To me they represent life, beauty & a celebration of the life of the person who has passed.  I know that memorial trees are very healing for people who have lost someone they love. I am excited to see that finally we can choose to have our cremated remains become part of […]
17 May 18:14

The Amazing 2 Minute Mug Pizza! It's Real!

Fergus Noodle

Naaaahhh

We've all been there. We come home famished, or perhaps you've been busy working and then look up and an insatiable hunger fills you. You need something now, you need it tasty and you don't want to wait. Enter: the 2 minute pizza in a mug!
09 May 18:32

No Bake Nutella Chocolate Mousse Pretzel Pie!

Have you seen those Nutella freakshakes adorned with chocolate dipped pretzels on the side? How about trying a pie version? With a base of pretzel crumbs, a light Nutella cheesecake mousse followed by chocolate coconut ganache and chocolate dipped pretzels? And surprisingly this is one of the easiest pies you will ever make as it is a no bake pie!
07 Apr 15:21

In Which We Remain As Sympathetic As We Have Always Been

by Durga

No Tragedy

by TAYLOR HINE

A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara
Doubleday, 720 pp.

I read the first few pages of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life on Sunday afternoon. I remember the day being overcast, but that may be just an after-effect of reading the novel. The cover beckoned me over to the “staff picks” table – was the man about to cry from pain or from having an orgasm? Will this book really be as wonderful as everyone says it is?

This is what A Little Life is about: four friends, but mostly just one of those friends – the one, we’re supposed to think, whose experiences matter most in the group. Jude St. Francis is an orphan of unknown ethnic origin who was found either in or next to a trash can in an alleyway as a baby and raised by a coterie of monks who all happen to be terrible people. The other three have their own problems: drug addiction, struggling for art, working jobs that don’t pay enough, finding a halfway decent roommate. The novel opens with two of the friends, Willem and the aforementioned Jude, being chastised by an apartment agent for not being able to afford the place she’s showing them. A Little Life, then, is a novel like many others: it’s about going home. In Jude’s case, it’s about finding a home: the first sentence reads, “The eleventh apartment had only one closet, but it did have a sliding glass door that opened onto a small balcony, from which he could see a man sitting across the way, outdoors in only a T-shirt and shorts even though it was October, smoking.”

A Little Life is probably supposed to appeal to me – after all, it’s about a group of twenty-somethings precariously navigating the post-college adult world. It’s a very New York novel, which suits, naturally, most of its reviewers and friends of mine who live there. There are no references, however, to 9/11 or any current events or political movements that might set the novel in a given time period. One reviewer argued that this is to make the novel timeless, but I’m more inclined to think that the characters in the novel just don’t have much time to think about it.

The first third of the novel is spent explaining the stories of how each of the four friends – JB, Malcolm, Willem, and Jude – ended up in New York City. There are arguments about race and homosexuality and other categories and labels. As it turns out, Jude can’t be categorized. His friends call him “The Postman” because he’s uncomfortable with divulging his life story, which is what really sets him apart from his three friends: “We never see him with anyone, we don’t know what race he is, we don’t know anything about him…[He’s] post-sexual, post-racial, post-identity, post-past.” They find him fascinating. The more anyone finds out about him throughout the novel, though, he becomes someone to feel sorry for rather than an intriguing, mysterious person: someone they try desperately to help in whatever ways they can.

The rest of the novel is deeply troubling. Jude’s story is nothing more and nothing less of abuse. He defines his life by it; his suffering is the beginning and end of his character. A new maxim is presented: things only get worse; they don’t get better. It’s like the film version of The Shining: “All [Jack Torrance] does is get crazier,” King said in a recent interview. “In the movie, there’s no tragedy because there’s no real change.” Peppered with flashbacks to Jude’s sexual and physical abuse in childhood and adolescence are depictions of the various ways he tries to cope: he maims himself, avoids the questions and concerns of his friends, and balks at the idea of anyone being able to love a man in a wheelchair.

Jude gives up on his life by the end of the novel. After one suicide attempt earlier on, Willem moves in with Jude – after a short while, they begin a romantic relationship. It’s a troublesome relationship for Jude, despite finally being with someone who treats him well. The one aspect of it he can’t handle is sexual intimacy. Instead of telling Willem as much and to avoid hurting his feelings (in other words, to avoid confrontation of any sort, even though Willem would be just as understanding and as sympathetic as he’s always been), he maims himself more than ever.

Before picking up A Little Life, I thought the saddest story ever told was that of Job’s inexplicable suffering. Job’s story, however, has a message that can be taken away from it: Sometimes we suffer, and we don’t know why. Nobody earns whatever suffering befalls them – justice isn’t that simple. The punishment doesn’t always fit the crime; there doesn’t even have to be a crime. Despite this meager ultimatum, or because of it – whichever you prefer – what matters, I think, is how we carry ourselves during those times of suffering. We can choose to give up, or we can try not to. A Little Life is a depiction of what the limits of that suffering can look like, a treatise on just how much one person can take. At one point, Jude “prays to a god he doesn’t believe in,” indicating that the blame in fact could lie outside of himself, even though he never says so outright. In fact, he spends most of the novel believing he brought all of his suffering upon himself, with increased paranoia and regression over time as a result.

A Little Life left me with little more than frustration when I finished it. It’s an utterly hopeless novel, unlike any other I’ve ever read. They were right in saying that you shouldn’t pick up A Little Life if you’re feeling sad, that it would only make you feel sadder. Now to that, I agree.

Taylor Hine is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Asheville.

"I Want You" - Anthony Hamilton (mp3)







18 Apr 00:00

An Anzac Caramel Slice - Two Aussie Classics In One for Anzac Day!

Aussies love two things: a good caramel slice and an Anzac biscuit. So I thought to combine the two to make a caramel slice that was even easier and possibly more delicious than the original. The flavour of the two items actually go perfectly together. Indeed both the Anzac biscuit and the caramel slice are sweetened with golden syrup. It's a perfectly sweet treat to feed a crowd on Anzac Day coming up!
21 Apr 18:08

Mansplaining Event at PayPal

by Bridget Crawford

Mansplaining Event at PayPal

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

IMG_5390

via Francine Lipman (@Narfnampil)

Feminist Law Professors

27 Apr 15:22

Kensington Street Social, Chippendale

by Helen (Grab Your Fork)
When Kensington Street Social opened in Sydney in January 2016, it marked the arrival of Chef Jason Atherton's 19th restaurant. It joins an international network of restaurants that includes Pollen Street Social in London, The Clocktower in New York, Aberdeen Street Social in Hong Kong, Social Commune in Shanghai and Marina Social in Dubai. Atherton doesn't stop. Since then, he's opened a 20th