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03 Sep 22:41

Mike Huckabee: "Lawbreaker Kim Davis Is Totally Tits"

by Rude One
Actual Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (campaign slogan: "Ahma eat awl theez heer gritz 'cuz Jeezus tole me to") supports jailed lawbreaker Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who violated a court order to issue marriage licenses to couples, same sex or otherwise. She is being held in contempt, but Huckabee is also demonstrating contempt for education by telling the hick fucknuts who make up his supporters wrong info about how the nation works.

Says Huckabee in a statement today, "Kim is asking the perfect question:  'Under what law am I authorized to issue homosexual couples a marriage license?' That simple question is giving many in Congress a civics lesson that they never got in grade school." You may think, "Um, the law that says you do what courts tell you to do, especially when the Supreme Court said to do it," but you would be happy to have the Devil balls deep in your face, sinning liberal.

He continues, "The Supreme Court cannot and did not make a law.  They only made a ruling on a law.  Congress makes the laws.  Because Congress has made no law allowing for same sex marriage, Kim does not have the Constitutional authority to issue a marriage license to homosexual couples." If you were a fucking dumbass, you'd think that Huckabee's right, goshdarnit. And he is, except for being so wrong. 

Let's explain this so that anyone can explain it to their fuckwit relatives. The law says that two adult people are allowed to get married. If a state carves out an exception to the law, like that two people of the same sex aren't allowed, that is discrimination. The Supreme Court, who, under the Constitution, is in fact made up of unelected judges, said that the law on marriage has to cover everyone equally. That's not making a law. That is making a ruling on the law, which is what Mike Huckabee says they're supposed to do.

But, of course, of course, this is really about the God shit. You can read it all yourself. Huckabee needs to have some reason to exist in this presidential race. Fuck it. This may as well be his Schiavo moment.
03 Sep 19:59

Reflecting and refocusing, after three years of this blog

by aggiesez
...But you can find me here, at my new project.

…But you can find me here, at my new project.

I started the SoloPoly blog about three years ago, but I haven’t been posting much here lately. I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve realized it’s because I’ve already said most of what I needed to say specifically about solo polyamory.

Solo polyamory is definitely a wonderful approach to life and relationships, and it continues to be a treasured aspect of my life that resonates with both my values and my preferences. But right now, I’m focusing on other aspects of my life. That’s where my energy needs to go.

This year has been pretty challenging for me in many ways, so I’m focusing on tackling those challenges — and nurturing the opportunities that are emerging from them.

What’s up?…

Well, on a practical level, this year I’ve hit some of the downs of the inevitable ups and downs of self employment. These financial dry spells have happened to me many times before over the past two decades of self employment, and I always get through it. I’m not in dire straits, or panicking. But I do see that it’s the right time for me to make a serious, concerted push at building a business that’s more sustainable than simply selling hours and articles (ultimately a losing game, since my time is a finite resource).

So I’ve been knuckling down to try to accomplish that goal in a way that capitalizes on my passions and might do people some good. (Yes, I’m talking about my Off the Escalator series of ebooks on unconventional relationships, which I’m currently preparing for publication. If you’ve enjoyed reading me here, please follow me there. It’ll be totally worth your attention. Trust me, this is way bigger than just solo polyamory.)

…Meanwhile, on the personal front, I’ve weathered some loss this year — including the loss of an intimate relationship that I’d treasured for most of the prior year. This has been a hard one to work through, but I am working through it. I’d just rather not say much about that experience here; it’s pretty personal, and it’s not only my story to share.

The takeaway is: All relationships are dangerous — or at least risky. That’s just how it works. Fortunately, love is rarely fatal, so there’s no point in getting bitter about it. We’re all grownups here.

The end of that intimate relationship did force me to face, and accept, some uncomfortable things about myself.

One thing I love about solo polyamory is that it allows me to have the flexibility to accommodate many kinds of love in my life — romantic, sexual, friends, family, community, and love for myself as well. But just because I’m flexible doesn’t mean I can roll with every kind of change, or have zero expectations, try as I might. I really, really do try to roll with change and have low expectations. But incompatibilities arise anyway. People grow, and they grow apart. Sometimes pretty suddenly and surprisingly.

Losing this relationship hurt me, but it didn’t rip my life apart. That’s by design — it’s a key advantage of solo polyamory. To be honest, what’s going on with my work is far more disruptive on a practical level, day to day. Still, admittedly, the confluence of these changes sure hasn’t been a picnic. (2015: are we done yet?)

That said, I’m not whining about losing love, or a big chunk of my income. I’ve deliberately chosen a way of life, love, and work that is pretty low-overhead and resilient, if not always comfortable. I deliberately do not require any of the trappings that tend to make conventional relationships, or full-time jobs with benefits, hard to leave. I’m more vulnerable in some ways, much less so in others. I’ve formed my own home base, and I can sustain it. Lovers can leave me if they want to. Clients can cut back if their budgets or needs change. It all works out eventually. My talent is spotting opportunities, and I’m trusting that right now.

For the last several months I’ve had no lovers at all — not my preferred circumstance, but it happens. However, I’m not desperate to find a lover. I feel very resolute that only want lovers who actively choose to keep connecting with me — not who stay with me from inertia, need, laziness or obligation.

Yes, there will always be relationship lulls and difficulties that require effort and adaptation. I’ve demonstrated many times that I’m willing and able to do that work (in fact, I’m quite skilled at it), if I feel strongly enough that the connection is worth it. However, if the fundamental desire to nurture a deeper loving connection ceases to be mutual, it’s time to let it go, even if I’m not the one who lost interest.

I don’t regret my choice of solo polyamory and its emphasis on creating relationships of ongoing volition, not obligation. Even though it can get really rocky sometimes, ultimately solo polyamory helps keep me grounded and free — including free to be a better lover and friend. Rocks are just part of the ground.

Love, intimacy and tenderness are so beautiful and precious, it’s natural to want them to continue sharing them in some way. However, human beings are moving targets, often unpredictably so. Sometimes in motion, we connect beautifully and affect each other deeply, in lasting ways. I know my former sweetheart elicited some wonderful qualities and capacities in me — and I daresay that I did in him as well. Those gifts remain, even though we’ve moved apart.

Yeah, the process of disengagement can really suck. So far, I’ve found no way around occasional severe suckage in life — short of Zen enlightenment, which continues to elude me. (It’s still not available on Amazon Prime. Also I’m a shitty Buddhist, despite living in Boulder.)

So to that end, to be kinder to myself and my former sweetheart, I’m taking a temporary break from interacting with him. I need the space and time. My intention, and his, is to resume as friends later when we’re both really ready for that. I hope that’s how it goes, but I’ll accept however that emerges and won’t force it.

The good news is I’m healing — both with time to myself, and with the love and support of many friends through this process. Also, I have my health, and I have a kickass project — two things I can’t take for granted. I live in an amazing town, state, and home which suit me, thanks to my own choice and effort. My feline overlords continue their benevolent dictatorship. The Earth continues to spin on its axis. The laws of physics have not been revoked.

New lovers and other opportunities will emerge eventually, they always do. It’s okay. And then I will get hurt again, or I will hurt others. That’s okay too — even though it may feel like hell in the moment, and in the immediate aftermath. Pain happens, and it passes.

Since my current focus in life is not my own romantic/sexual connections, I’m not sure what else I have to say in the SoloPoly blog for the time being. If something relevant comes up, I’ll speak up. I may pop in from time to time to let you know what’s going on.

But if you don’t see me post here for awhile about solo polyamory, don’t worry. I’m doing what I need to do, and you know where to find me. Also, know that it’s extremely unlikely that I’ve abandoned solo polyamory.

I do hope you check out and support my Off the Escalator book project, even though it won’t be exactly the kind of writing I’ve been doing on the SoloPoly blog. Actually, I think it might be much better, since these books will features over 1500 voices of people in unconventional relationships, not just one.

Thanks. Seriously, thanks — the readers of this blog helped get me through some very hard times in the last three years. You folks rock — and you’ve affected me in deep, lasting ways, for the better. I’m most grateful.

For now…


03 Sep 18:49

rstevens: 😨 Kate’s worried about the new Star Wars:...


😨 Kate’s worried about the new Star Wars:

03 Sep 20:53

Sex News: Super Mario’s penis, Ashley Madison’s fembots, Nerve’s depressing birthday

by Violet Blue

Check out my newest collection, Wetware: Cyberpunk Erotica ($3.89)

Above: “All About The Woman” Agent Provocateur AW15 Lookbook
  • “What I have learned from examining the site’s source code is that Ashley Madison’s army of fembots appears to have been a sophisticated, deliberate, and lucrative fraud. … It’s possible, as one person put it to me in email, that Ashley Madison was actually a pretty decent hookup site for gay people—but that was mostly because the system was designed to ignore them.”
    TITLE (Gizmodo)
  • A rally and demonstration has been slated to take place outside the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn in an effort to denounce the prosecution of the CEO and staff of Last week, the offices of the longtime online escort advertising directory were raided in New York by the Department of Homeland Security.
    Protest Slated Over Prosecutions (XBIZ)
  • “But let’s not dwell on Super Hornio Bros.: there are an awful lot of other depictions of Mario’s genitalia out there, the vast majority of which are drawings in which Mario acts as a surrogate for the viewer; the real focus of these cartoons is Princess Peach. Some of these drawings are part of grander graphic narratives, male fantasies that repurpose videogame characters from all eras and genres and species into a single “utopian” fuck session.”
    Does Mario have a penis? (Killscreen Daily)

Gratitude to our sponsor in Spain, women-run Lust Cinema.
  • The path to market for the first-ever women’s libido drug began in 2010 when Dr. Irwin Goldstein chased a pharmaceutical executive around a Miami medical conference. Goldstein’s profile rose in connection with the 1998 FDA approval of Viagra, Pfizer’s breakthrough erectile dysfunction drug. Goldstein was instrumental in the clinical trials.
    Meet the controversial doctor behind the new “Viagra for women” (Mother Jones)
  • Nerve turned 18, and its essay on sex then and now, through its own lens, is limited and depressing.
    Literate Smut (Nerve)

Thank you to our sponsor, Nubile Films.

How much has AHF spent on political campaigns & lobbying? Get the facts here:

— (@kinkdotcom) September 2, 2015

  • The Free Speech Coalition today petitioned California’s attorney general to conduct an audit of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to determine if the organization’s nonprofit status should be revoked. The FSC said that over the past four years, the controversial Los Angeles-based healthcare organization appears to have willfully and repeatedly violated multiple laws and regulations related to political spending by a nonprofit.
    FSC Calls on Calif. Attorney General to Probe AHF (XBIZ)
  • One of the world’s most-viewed pornography Web sites is offering a new $25,000 college scholarship for a student who will be judged partially on a homemade video submission answering a single question: “How do you strive to make others happy?”, which touts 78.9 billion online video views each year, recently began accepting submissions for the scholarship as part of the site’s expanded philanthropic efforts.
    Porn site offers $25,000 college scholarship, asks students: “How do you strive to make others happy?” (Washington Post)
  • “The prefix “pan” originates from Greek, meaning “all” or “every”. Pansexual people are attracted to all kinds of people, regardless of their gender, sex or presentation. There are several genders, and while some trans people do not fit into the traditional gender binary, some do. So for example, while a bisexual cis woman may be attracted to cis men and women, I am attracted to cis people, trans people, demigender people, and genderfluid people, to name a few.”
    I’m pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality (Independent UK)

Thank you to our sponsor in France, Abby Winters.
  • A woman who posted sexually explicit images of her girlfriend to hurt and humiliate her after an argument has been given a suspended sentence. Paige Mitchell, 24, admitted uploading four intimate photos of the victim to her Facebook page. She is the first woman to be sentenced for an offence under revenge porn laws introduced in England and Wales in April.
    Woman pleads guilty to posting revenge porn photos of girlfriend (Guardian UK)
  • Genderqueerness refers to an identification with neither, both or a combination of male and female genders across a spectrum. Genderfluid, androgynous, non-binary and other terms are also used by those who fit this description in some way.
    9 Things To Never Say To Someone Who Is Genderqueer (SheWired)
  • This week, the debate about decriminalizing sex work continues on Shortwave, with Maxine Doogan, President of the Erotic Service Providers Network in San Francisco, and Taini Bien Aime, Executive Director of The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.
    Should sex work be legal? (PBS NewsHour)

Thank you to our sponsor and friends, Pink Label TV.
warped book cover
  • Adult entertainment conglomerate MindGeek reacted today to MetArt’s copyright and trademark infringement suit waged last week, denying its allegations and calling it “frivolous.” “MindGeek is astonished that MetArt has chosen MindGeek, its long-time content partner, as the next target of its newly adopted business model of filing baseless claims,” MindGeek said in a statement today.
    MindGeek Calls MetArt’s Suit ‘Frivolous,’ Warns of Counterclaims (XBIZ)
  • Non-consensual behavior is a problem at kinky & BDSM events. Last year professional pervert and sexual health educator Maxine Holloway worked with the BDSM & kink, and sex worker community to initiate the ASK FIRST Campaign. “Let’s take the ASK FIRST Campaign to the NEXT LEVEL.”
    Ask First: Support consent at this year’s Folsom Street Fair! (Indiegogo)
  • LA Weekly says that if someone wants an adult performer in their Hollywood production, they should call this gatekeeper, but I’m not sure why. They write, “Howard Levine, 60, has become one of the go-to people to whom L.A.- and New York-based mainstream productions turn when they need to source male and female porn stars for racy roles and cameo appearances.”
    Need a porn star for your TV show? Call Howard Levine (LA Weekly)

The post Sex News: Super Mario’s penis, Ashley Madison’s fembots, Nerve’s depressing birthday appeared first on Violet Blue ® :: Open Source Sex - Journalist and author Violet Blue's site for sex and tech culture, accurate sex information, erotica and more..

03 Sep 20:14

03 Sep 18:55

celibatemachine: Mädchen in Uniform (1931, Leontine Sagan)


Mädchen in Uniform (1931, Leontine Sagan)

03 Sep 21:15

The Comcastrati II: MSNBC Drops The Veil

by driftglass

First a warning, musical;
Then the hour, irrevocable.
The leaden circles dissolved in the air.

― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
From Mediate:
Exclusive: MSNBC to Expand Morning Joe One More Hour; Kate Snow Gets Afternoon Role

More sweeping changes are coming to MSNBC per a well placed source.

As reported in this space exclusively last week, Kate Snow of NBC News will be taking on a substantial role in MSNBC’s dayside programming. Ms. Snow formerly a weekend anchor for Good Morning America and a frequent face seen on the NBC Nightly News and Dateline will inherit the 3-5 p.m. ET time slot on weekdays on MSNBC.

Also of major note, Morning Joe will be expanded to a four-hour program (it’s currently three). Starting soon, the political roundtable show can be seen from 6 a.m. ET until 10. Note: With the 2016 race heating up, and the great political theater that has come with it and only promises to continue, it only makes sense to expand the network’s editorial page in the morning.

One notable causality to emerge from these moves is current 9-11 a.m. anchor José Díaz-Balart. With Morning Joe going to 10 a.m., Tamron Hall will then take over the 10-12 noon slot, thereby leaving Mr. Díaz-Balart as the odd man out.

Following the aforementioned Snow in the 3-5 p.m. block will be Chuck Todd at 5 p.m., a move that was also previously reported by Mediaite in late July.
I assume they'll keep Rachel Maddow around for awhile longer:  her ratings are still respectable and it lends a little class to the place to have a concert pianist working the ivories at what has become just another Beltway whorehouse. 

But make no mistake: Liberal teevee has been on the DNR list for a long time, and by bulking up his line-up with Moar!Joe!Scarbourgh and Shuck Todd, MSNBC prexy Phil Griffin has pronounced Liberal teevee dead.

I shall miss it.
03 Sep 20:02

Yaskawa Electric in Motoman’s Center exhibitVideo uploaded...

Yaskawa Electric in Motoman’s Center exhibit

Video uploaded to Facebook by Noriaki  Nakagawa on an exhibit at the Motoman Center (a company that specializes in industrial robotics).

Sadly, I cannot embed the video, but can watch it here

This isn’t the first of its kind (using robotics and displays have been used quite a bit for presenting new cars at trade shows, and all owe a debt to the project ‘Box’), but it is a good implementation nethertheless.

03 Sep 21:36

Artists Interpret a Colonial Collection of 125,660 Indonesian Specimens

by Ben Valentine
Curatorial assistant Alifa Putri giving a tour to students during the public exhibition program at Salihara (photo: Etienne Turpin). The program is available online at:

Curatorial assistant Alifa Putri giving a tour to students during the public exhibition program of ‘125,660 Specimens of Natural History’ at Salihara (photo by Etienne Turpin)

Archives all have a politics embedded within them. Intended or not, the words used around collections set agendas, and what is collected and what remains absent is always political. Furthermore, many collections were outright stolen from cultures of less military might or economic power. To consider this thoroughly demands a reconsideration of the archive not as a dusty storage unit of finite objects, but as a deeply complex and living intersection of histories. It is with this understanding that Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin helped organize 125,660 Specimens of Natural History at Komunitas Salihara, in Jakarta, Indonesia.

125,660 Specimens of Natural History is an evolving curatorial and research project that looks at Indonesia’s colonial legacy as embodied in natural history collections. In particular, Spring and Turpin have focused on Russel Wallace, who co-discovered the theory of evolution with Charles Darwin. In his research, Wallace amassed a collection of 125,660 natural specimens from the region and which Springer and Turpin invited 13 Indonesian and 13 foreign participants to explore. The exhibition includes 10 new artworks, zoological specimens, books, archival materials, and a collection of negatives documenting the Indonesian archipelago’s changes at the turn of the 20th century.

For those of us who cannot stop by Jakarta, the two are collaborating on a book series Intercalation: Paginated Exhibition (which Hyperallergic already covered) that deals with disparate cultural and environmental histories through experimental curatorial work. Springer and Turpin’s forthcoming third volume looks further into Alfred Russel Wallace and the legacy of colonial science in Indonesia, further extending the 125,660 Specimens exhibition, and includes many of the artists and zoologists involved.

Palm oil plantation in Bengkulu, South Sumatra, Indonesia (photograph by Etienne Turpin).

Palm oil plantation in Bengkulu, South Sumatra, Indonesia (photo by Etienne Turpin)

Ben Valentine: How did this project come to be?

Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin: There are multiple strands that led us to engage in the project together, which we first started to talk about around May 2013 — more than two years ago by now. The idea itself developed in the context of a week-long workshop in the framework of the SYNAPSE International Curators’ Network at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, as part of “Das Anthropozän Projekt.” This is where we met, in the context of a discussion regarding curatorial agency in the Anthropocene. Etienne was about to move from the US to Indonesia to take on a new project [Peta Jakarta] about climate change, urbanization, and environmental change. Anna-Sophie had already engaged in a series of previous book and exhibition projects dealing with cultural archives, colonialism, geopolitics, and the museum. The concept of the “archipelago” was something she was already exploring in her work about curatorial practice.

Beyond these personal elements, Alfred Russel Wallace’s chronicle, The Malay Archipelago — which was published in 1869 after his return from his eight years spent in Southeast Asia — remains one of the most popular travel books of all time. Nusantara is both one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots as well as a region with the highest and fastest rates of environmental destruction. We became increasingly interested in how we might investigate contemporary land use against the background of Wallace’s detailed descriptions and collections. We thought that it would be a fertile starting point for a curatorial project to visit “the collection” of the famous 125,660 specimens he gathered on his expedition. One of the first things we learned, however, was that unlike in the context of many anthropological or ethnographic collections from the colonial period, natural history specimen collections rarely remain a coherent whole because they tend to be reassembled according to taxonomic classification systems (where the collector plays an insignificant role).

We also engaged in curatorial fieldwork, both by visiting dozens of natural history collections which hold specimens from Wallace’s eight years in the Malay archipelago, as well as traveling to some critical sites to consider land use transformations in Indonesia. The multi-arts center Komunitas Salihara, in Jakarta, became our host for the project, and later we partnered with scientific curators from the Indonesian natural history museum (MZB), which is part of the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI). These institutional collaborations gave us a platform to enter into dialogues with more than 20 artists. Half of these artists are from Indonesia; we are very proud that the exhibition presents 10 new works, which were created in conversation with us and with the scientific curators from LIPI.

Opening of exhibition, (photo by Sonja Dahl), all photographs courtesy the interviewees.

Opening of ‘25,660 Specimens of Natural History’ at Komunitas Salihara (photo by Sonja Dahl)

BV: What relationships between the archive, environmental degradation, and colonialism did you uncover in the research for this exhibition?

A-SS & ET: While the devastating effect of contemporary deforestation on species habitats is relatively well known, one of the most interesting stories regarding 19th-century collecting practices is their less obvious implications in earlier forms of resource extraction and deforestation. Wallace’s expedition was unique in the sense that he traveled as a commercial collector, not a well-funded scientist with a big team (as Darwin had on the Beagle, for example). He reached many very remote areas and discovered countless species that were new to science, including, famously, at least one bird-of-paradise species that was later named in his honor (Semioptera wallacei). However, Wallace also often benefitted from already existing logging roads. He also realized that there was hardly any better place for gathering a lot of insects — like the large beetles he so favored — than recently felled trees. For this reason, one of the most profitable collecting sites was an active coal mine in Northern Borneo.

Realizing that there existed such an active relationship between historic specimens collections and earlier levels of colonial resource extraction was a powerful mechanism for us to research natural history exhibitions along the lines of what Rob Nixon has termed “slow violence” — the relatively invisible and incremental processes of ecological destruction.

Exhibition view, (photograph by Etienne Turpin).

Installation view of ‘25,660 Specimens of Natural History’ (photograph by Etienne Turpin).

BV: You write that the project “explores how trans-cultural collaborative approaches to artistic and scientific practice can address urgent environmental questions.” How does this exhibition address those questions? 

A-SS & ET: Wallace was a British collector who sent a massive collection of specimens to Europe. Based on this material, he began to understand and formulate a theory of biogeography and a theory of evolution by natural selection, which he would co-publish with Charles Darwin in 1858 while still in Nusantara. Both the material itself and the knowledge embodied in the collection have a relation to Indonesia that hasn’t been very clearly articulated. We wanted to emphasize Indonesia’s geography, biodiversity, and transformation in this first iteration of the project. It was for this reason that it was important to stage the initial exhibition in Indonesia and later travel it back to Europe while giving it a different form. In Indonesia, as guest curators, our role was to instigate connections between artists and scientists; we were permitted a certain flexibility with respect to disciplines, and this enabled us to make certain connections through the exhibition. 

Regarding the second part of your question, something which drives our collaborative work is an interest in the creation of spaces that disregard and/or go beyond established boundaries. In the exhibition, this is pursued through the overall exhibition design, as well as in the way materials are distributed in the space across an island landscape of viewing tables. While 125,660 Specimens of Natural History is staged within an art gallery, artworks are presented alongside a number of other artifacts, objects, documents, and reproductions; these include scientific artifacts such as MZB’s zoological specimens, historical documents such as maps, and other documents such as excerpts from historical publications, as well as contemporary scientific and environmental studies. We made a choice not to foreground the distinction between which objects might count as art and which objects could be read as scientific. Instead, thanks to their diversity of media and materials, we hope that all the elements in the exhibition can co-produce a lively landscape of positions, stories, and connections that viewers move through in order to discover a variety of different possible itineraries and readings (rather than following one defined narrative route).

Exhibition view, (photograph by Etienne Turpin).

Installation view of ‘25,660 Specimens of Natural History’ (photo by Etienne Turpin)

Meanwhile, a second iteration of the project is planned for late April 2016 in Berlin, where we will partner with the Humboldt University and the Museum fur Naturkunde. Many of the artworks created in the context of the Jakarta show will travel there and some will be further developed. The curatorial perspective will expand to include the narrative of Wallace in South America (where he spent four years collecting specimens prior to his Asian expedition) as well as a discussion of the role of Prussian forestry science in the development of the mono-cultural plantations as well as address anthropogenic species extinction.

BV: What are some lessons learned during creating this exhibition?

A-SS & ET: As in any large project in the arts you always have to learn a million new things to make everything happen. In a way, this is why we enjoy this kind of work so much — to a certain degree the rules aren’t completely set yet. Outcomes are never completely clear or predictable for a very long time, and yet you keep the momentum going and eventually the elements start to come together, including the collections, archives, research materials, and artworks. The exhibition begins to take shape from the years of work that created its parameters or contours. The fact that we have the opportunity to produce the upcoming Berlin version of the project also means that we have the rare a chance to actively reorganize and expand the material for another show. This is very exciting, but there will be completely different challenges coming our way and we will again have to figure out many new things. 

125,660 Specimens of Natural History continues at Komunitas Salihara (No. 16 Kebagusan, Pasar Minggu, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, Indonesia) through September 15. 

03 Sep 10:53

The Age of Quiet

by Jack Sjogren


03 Sep 11:00


by Lucas Adams
03 Sep 10:11

Don’t Be Fooled – Kate Paulk’s Kinder, Gentler Sad Puppy Slate Is Still A Slate.

by Ampersand


The Hugo Awards – are we all sick to death of my posting about the Hugo Awards? Hell yes, you say? Well, can we can stand one more post on the subject? Okay, then! - are voted on in two stages. From the Hugo Award FAQ:

How are the results decided?

Voting for the Hugos is a two-stage process. In the first stage voters may nominate up to five entries in each category. All nominations carry equal weight. The five entries that get the most nominations in each category go forward to the final ballot. […]

Why do you have a two-stage system?

Hundreds and hundreds of science fiction and fantasy works are published each year. No one, not even the top reviewers in the field, can possibly read/see all of them. Other awards limit the field by restricting themselves to works of certain types (e.g. only fantasy), or by type of work (e.g. only books), or by where they are published, or by the nationality of the author. The Hugos attempt to cover the whole field. The voting system explicitly accepts that no one can have seen/read everything. It relies on the fact that many people participate to find the five works that are most popular (that is have been seen/read and enjoyed by most people), and then there is a run-off between them in the final ballot.

So the first stage of Hugo Award voting is a form of crowdsourcing, whittling down those “hundreds and hundreds” of stories to just five in each category.

For instance, in 2012 (before the puppies), 611 Hugo voters turned in ballots for short stories. The most popular short story, E. Lily Yu’s amazing The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees, was listed on only 72 of those 611 ballots (about 12%). At least 60% of those 611 ballots didn’t vote for any of the top five nominated stories.

Nippon_hugo_archive1And that’s fine. That’s how the Hugo nominations are designed to work. 611 Hugo voters, acting as individuals, each nominate whatever short stories they think are award-worthy. From that list of hundreds of short stories, the five most-nominated make it to the final ballot.

Unfortunately, it’s an easy system to game, as the Puppies have proven. If you can form a voting bloc of just 100 people who will nominate an agreed-upon list, instead of voting as individuals, that’s enough to completely overwhelm the much larger number of Hugo voters who are voting as individuals. 100 people voting for just 5 works will beat out 500 people voting from among hundreds of works.

In the case of the Sad Puppies, Brad Torgersen solicited suggestions on his blog, and then – either working by himself, or (as Larry Correia claimed) in consultation with Larry Correia, John Wright, Sarah Hoyt, and V*x D*y – chose five nominees.1

Next year’s Sad Puppies slate – although they’re not calling it a slate – will be run by Kate Paulk. On a podcast, she outlined some plans:

For starters the word slate is not going to appear anywhere. For second [Cross talk] I am not doing a slate, I am doing a list of the most popular works in all of the various categories as submitted by people who read on any of the various blogs that will have me. And I’m going to post ultimately the top ten of each, with links to the full list of everything that everybody wanted to see nominated, and I’m going to be saying “hey if you really want to see your favorite authors nominated your best bet is to pick something of theirs from the most popular in the list as opposed to the least popular.” That is going to be what it is. I don’t care who ends up on that list. I don’t care if David Gerrold ends up being the top of the list somewhere. That’s not the point, the point is that I want to see the voting numbers both for nomination and for actual voting go up above 5,000 up above 10,000, because the more people who are involved and who are voting the harder it is for any faction including puppies to manipulate the results.

Except this is manipulating the results. Because she’s telling the Puppies to vote strategically from a common list (“your best bet is to pick something of theirs from the most popular in the list”) instead of doing what they should, which is voting as individuals for whatever works they’ve personally read and consider the best.

This isn’t as blatant a slate as Torgersen’s was – but it’s still an attempt to consolidate the votes of the Sad Puppies, from hundreds of possible stories to just a handful of choices. By the time of the final Hugo vote, there appeared to be 400-500 Sad Puppies, about 100 of whom voted strict party line. If even half of those Sad Puppies strategically choose their votes from Paulk’s “top ten” list, while the thousands of non-Puppy voters, voting as individuals, split their votes among hundreds of stories, then bloc voters will once again be able to lock out the rest of us.

If Paulk sincerely wants to participate fairly, rather than running a slate, she should ask her readers to post their recommendations (like Scalzi and others do). And then – that’s it. Don’t consolidate, don’t list in order of popularity, don’t encourage strategic voting – just crowdsource a list of reader’s favorite choices, and tell readers to vote as individuals.

* * *

three-body-problemMany puppies are crowing that this year’s “Best Novel” winner – the excellent, if flawed, Three Body Problem – would not have won without a few hundred puppy voters joining with the majority of voters to beat out The Goblin Emperor (also excellent, also flawed).

That’s true, but it’s also true that Three Body Problem, which was not on either Puppy slate, would not have been nominated if Marko Kloos hadn’t honorably declined his slated nomination. In other words, it’s only because the Puppies screwed up that TBP was nominated at all.

Various leading Puppies have said that they would have nominated TBP if they had read it on time – but, as it happened, none of the handful of people (2? 5? Whatever) who made the decision had read TBP.

And that illustrates exactly what’s wrong with allowing slates to choose the Hugo nominees, rather than Hugo voters nominating as individuals. A crowd of hundreds of Hugo voters, voting as individuals, wouldn’t have left Three Body Problem off the list – but the Puppy slates did.

(Actually, Kloss wasn’t the only novelist to decline a Hugo nomination this year – Larry Correia, who founded the Puppies, made a big show of allowing himself to be nominated, and then declining the nomination. Ironically, if neither Kloss and Correia had declined their nominations, then this year’s Hugo best novel would have been Ancillary Sword, a novel the Puppies loathe.)

* * *

One more point. I’ve seen several Puppies argue that the “no award” vote was gaming the awards, equivalent to how Puppies gamed the nominations.

That’s nonsense.

“No Award” didn’t beat the Puppy nominees because a minority gamed the system and locked out the majority. It beat the Puppy nominees because that’s how the majority of Hugo voters voted. When the majority votes for an outcome, and that outcome wins, that’s not “gaming the system.” That is the system.

  1. It appears that Torgersen et al pretty much ignored the reader selections they solicited: “of the 16 written fiction nominees on Torgerson’s slate, 11 – more than two-thirds – had not actually been nominated by anyone in the crowd-sourced discussion.”
02 Sep 23:17


03 Sep 12:58

Artists of African Descent Don Disguises in the Digital Age

by Kenta Murakami

Jakob Dwight, “The Autonomous Prism” (2010–14), 16 digital videos, looped in continuous playback, DVD for plasma or projection, 4+ minutes (Seattle Art Museum, Commission.© Jakob Dwight, photo courtesy of the artist)

SEATTLE — The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) attempts to confront the nuanced subtext of its vast collection of African masks in the ambitious and delightful exhibition Disguise: Masks and Global African Art. Recognizing that museums decontextualize ritual objects from their spiritual or narrative contexts, Curator Pamela McClusky states in the press release: “While masks were exported in vast quantities to become a signature art form representing the African continent in the 20th century, masquerades were left behind.”

The curators thus engage with the notion of the mask as a catalyst, an object that takes on new meaning as it is worn and performed across history. The result is a survey of two dozen contemporary artists of African origin or descent whose practices engage in some way with the notion of self-presentation or disguise. Not all of the artists have a direct relationship with a masquerade tradition, and the show’s broad focus on the African diaspora allows for an eclectic and hybrid approach that opens as many doors as it closes.

While the resulting exhibition feels a bit diffuse, it’s compelling that SAM commissioned many new works and performances, and gave ten artists entire galleries to themselves. Right off the bat, the viewer is confronted with Sondra R. Perry’s two videos framing the entrance. Entitled “Double Quadruple Etcetera Etcetera 1 and 11” (2013), the videos show Perry dancing like a maniac, her body removed in post-processing to be a shimmering refraction of the white gallery walls behind her. The work is paired with a large projection from Jakob Dwight’s The Autonomous Prism Mask project — a series of glitchy digital collages framed to match the silhouettes of masks from SAM’s collection.

The exhibition’s entrance prepares the viewer for Curator Erika Dalya Massaquoi’s inclination for new media. These contemporary takes on the exhibition’s themes suggest a certain necessity for disguise in the digital age, and that the masquerade might be a central characteristic of contemporary society at large.

This postmodern sense of schizophrenia is emphasized in the next room, which features more of Dwight’s flickering video loops, as well as a series of masks from varying African tribes with a range of ritual functions. Serving, in retrospect, as an early indication of the diverse cultures African masks are often purported to represent, the works fluidly navigate and embody identities as needed or desired.

Installation view of 'Disguise: Masks and Global African Art' (image courtesy the Seattle Museum of Art)

Installation view of ‘Disguise: Masks and Global African Art’ (image courtesy the Seattle Museum of Art)

This combination of spirituality and tech-centered futurism is found scattered throughout Disguise, culminating halfway through the show in ChimaTEK Corporation’s beta launch. Guised as a tongue-in-cheek corporate venture, Saya Woolfalk’s installation of lavish, post-human Buddhist avatars promises to give “clients access to a chimeric virtual existence” through trademarked human hybridization technologies.” Explained in a text panel and explanatory video, Woolfalk’s post-racial utopia seems inviting if we were in fact allowed to wear her characters’ vaguely Japanese, mandala-esque outfits. I was certainly captivated enough to linger, although the success of the ritual is owed in part to an entrancing segment of Emeka Ogboh’s “Egwutronica” soundtrack (2014–2015).

Integrated throughout the exhibition, “Egwutronica” is a “nonintrusive but immersive sound installation” of synthesized beats and sampled African instruments that responds in part to the works on view. Shifting the silent sanctity of the museum to a different register, the soundscapes reinforce the notion of the masquerade as existing in a kind of “paraspace,” which is described on a text panel by Sondra Perry as a realm that exists parallel to or outside of ordinary life.

Jacolby Satterwhite, Country Ball-1

Jacolby Satterwhite, “Country Ball” (1989–2012), HD digital video with color 3-D animation and sound, 12:39 minutes (image courtesy Seattle Art Museum, Modern Art Acquisition Fund, 2013.3)

A personal favorite of the show, Jacolby Satterwhite’s video “Reifying Desire 3 – The Immaculate Conception of Doubting Thomas” (2013) combines 3D animation and video to create a polymorphous world jittering with frenetic energy and digitally rendered bodily fluids. Messy yet meticulous, Satterwhite pursues an unseen higher purpose, his deliberate movements conjuring the ritualistic, regardless of whether they follow any recognizable logic or pattern. Reminiscent of “Elenu Eiye” (2001), an archetypically foolish character’s mask and costume from earlier in the show whose title means “the owner of the mouth that’s in constant celebration,” Satterwhite’s video tests the limits of the absurd, who states in an accompanying text panel that in the digital age “the new glamour is being porous and parading your errors.”

Several artists in the show explore the masquerade tradition in a critical way. Wura-Natasha Ogunji exploits the anonymity provided by the masquerade to investigate the limits of an exclusively male tradition — for example, by parading costumed women through the streets of Lagos, Nigeria in broad daylight. Zina Saro-Wiwa conversely explores the identities of the men under the masks, taking poignant portraits that serve as “a document of [her] desire to penetrate this secretive world of men.”

Chimera from the Empathic Series

Saya Woolfalk, “Chimera from the Empathic Series” (2013), still from single-channel video, 4:12 minutes (© Saya Woolfalk, photo courtesy Leslie Tonkonow, Artworks + Projects, NY) (click to enlarge)

Much of the works’ meaning, like Brendan Fernandes’s gallery-sized meta-critique of the appropriation of Africana by the West, however, begins to dull due to viewer oversaturation and a lack of curatorial focus. Nandipha Mntambo’s interspecies self-portraits as a bovine woman are gorgeous, yet feel somehow disconnected, and Walter Oltmann’s bristly bug costumes feel entirely out of place.

The final gallery, which is filled with various photographs and drawings of masked figures, feels necessary but tiring, and the closing work, Ebony G. Patterson’s admirable “72 Project” (2012), which acts as a solemn tribute to 72 Jamaican men killed in a drug raid by US and Jamaican forces, feels like a politically-charged afterthought.

Despite somewhat of a curatorial overreach, all of the works in the show are quite compelling in their own right, and I imagine are only brought to a higher plane with SAM’s series of performances and programming, which saw some of the artists engage with their otherwise static work through dance. Like the Nick Cave Soundsuits that are mixed with the museum’s permanent installation of masks outside the exhibition, Disguise reintroduces a sense of wonder and urgency to a collection that’s gathered some dust.

Disguise: Masks and Global African Art continues at the Seattle Art Museum (1300 1st Ave, Seattle) through September 7. 

03 Sep 13:00

Humans Dream of an Electric Philip K. Dick

by Ian MacAllen

Creepy robots were often at the heart of Philip K. Dick stories. The future is now: a company is building a realistic looking robot to haunt your dreams and it looks strikingly similar to the science fiction author. Electric Literature reports on the project from Hanson Robotics:

On their website, Hanson Robotics highlights their desire to “realize the dream of friendly machines who truly live and love, and co-invent the future of life.” Philip K. Dick’s robot, when questioned in a 2011 interview with PBS, engages in thoughtful conversation with his interviewer, and eventually provides a calm yet chilling answer to a question many of us have on our minds: Will robots take over the world, Terminator-style?

Related Posts:

03 Sep 13:14


by Robert Farley
Battleship Study - BB65 - Scheme 4 - (1940 Studies).jpg

“Battleship Study – BB65 – Scheme 4 – (1940 Studies)” by Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

My latest at the National Interest continues what amounts to the book tour for The Battleship Book:

In the early 1940s, the U.S. Navy still expected to need huge, first rate battleships to fight the best that Japan and Germany had to offer. The North Carolina, South Dakota, and Iowa class battleships all involved design compromises. The Montanas, the last battleships designed by the U.S. Navy (USN), would not.

Incidentally, the listed January release date for the Battleship Book on Amazon is not correct; we remain on schedule for a late September release.

03 Sep 01:17


03 Sep 01:55

California data shows racial disparity in arrests, in-custody deaths


Never would have guessed! ~sigh~

Data shows arrested black juvenile males are booked into jail at a 25 percent higher rate than whites
03 Sep 12:40


03 Sep 11:30

ponderation: Mountain Lake by Felix Schmale


Mountain Lake by Felix Schmale

03 Sep 11:14

(via transylmania, vindsval)

14 Aug 23:00

Talking With My Hands

by Anna Bobby
Anna Bobby 1 Anna Bobby 2-2 Anna Bobby 3 Anna Bobby 4 Anna Bobby 5 Anna Bobby 6 Anna Bobby 8 Anna Bobby 7
03 Sep 14:51

Oblivious Games Company Turns Slave Trade into Tetris

by Allison Meier
The "Slave Tetris" portion of Playing History: Slave Trade (screenshot via YouTube)

The “Slave Tetris” portion of Playing History: Slave Trade (screenshot via YouTube)

After a social media uproar, the Denmark-based Serious Games Interactive removed a “Slave Tetris” mini-game from their Playing History: Slave TradeThe brief section of the game aimed at 11 to 14 year olds, in which you are “working as young slave steward on a ship crossing the Atlantic,” apparently was aimed at showing the horrific conditions of slave ships.

The game was launched in 2013, but resurfaced, especially with US audiences, through a 25% sale recently on games platform Steam. Unfortunately, even giving them a huge benefit of the doubt that they were attempting to make this history accessible, the company’s response has not been compassionate about why using the gameplay of Tetris (and “Slave Tetris” is in fact a term they use themselves) might be offensive. Here’s their notification on Twitter of the redaction:

(screenshot via Twitter)

(screenshot via Twitter)

That’s hardly a mea culpa, and no way an apology. On their Steam page, where the game remains, there’s this update:

Apologies to people who was offended by us using game mechanics to underline the point of how inhumane slavery was. The goal was to enlighten and educate people – not to get sidetracked discussing a small 15 secs part of the game.

Their CEO Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen responded in equally unsympathetic tones to the numerous detractors on Twitter (he seems to have deleted his account). Complex collected some of his responses like: “Slave ships were stacked as tetris.. point is to disgust people so they understand how inhumane slave trade was- search the net.” You can see the scene in question in this gameplay video by Jim Sterling on YouTube:

As you can see after the Tetris scene, the best the guiding mouse character can politely muster is it “was certainly not nice.” Would that the troubles with the Serious Games titles would end there. Regrettably, this is far from the only seemingly cluelessly offensive game on their docket, nor is it even the only use of Tetris gameplay for stacking human bodies. Observe this screenshot from Playing History: The Plague, where the same Tetris gameplay is used to stack corpses in a mass grave:

(screenshot via Vimeo)

(screenshot via Vimeo)

In addition to the Playing History seriesSerious Games also offers President for a Day – Floodings where “YOU are the President of Pakistan. With two weeks to Election Day, the monsoon could not come at a worse time. And in its wake comes famine, cholera, rebels, and much more.” The much more includes “nuclear missiles that must be protected at all costs.” It’s joined by President for a Day – Corruption in which you are “an African president” (no country specified). And in their Global Conflicts series, such scenarios as a Bangladesh sweatshop and child soldiers in Uganda are the focus of games.

Liz Dwyer points out at TakePart that this is not the first time using the slave trade in a game has sparked controversy, with Mission U.S.: Flight to Freedom accused of dumbing down history and turning it into something fun. Gamification of history isn’t the problem, and there’s definitely a place for games in education, with organizations like Games for Change encouraging the social impact of interactive narratives. That’s why it’s disheartening to see an education game go so poorly, and for its creators to be so hostile towards criticism. Obviously a company that has devoted itself to so many education titles is interested in history and finding new ways to connect with it, and this is a chance for dialogue on how that can happen, rather than dismissing its detractors.

03 Sep 12:25

RT @mccrabb_will: The details in FURY ROAD are myriad. Note that the Five Wives'...

by Pai Osias
Author: Pai Osias
Source: Mobile Web (M2)
RT @mccrabb_will: The details in FURY ROAD are myriad. Note that the Five Wives' message is written around the design of sperm. http://t.…
03 Sep 15:53

In Days Of Old, When Knights Were Bold...

by driftglass

We rejoin our story as the slow-motion GOP freakout over the !Sudden!Discovery! that the Republican party is full of -- gasp! -- Republicans ...

... continues to dominate the nation's Grand Guignol comedy circuit (for today's example we turn to the Breitbart Collective Farm):
Which is certainly horrifying.  And not funny at all.  And bitterly funny-as-hell.

But let us leave the fog and thunder of America's political media battlefield where everyone is feigning surprise that, under it's tissue-thin veneer of David Brooks respectability, Conservatism is a roiling cesspit of ignorance, racism and crazy...

...and return to a simpler time.  A time before YouTube and Instagram.  Back before your 'umble scrivener was even a blogger -- when I was just a long-winded commenter at the late Steve Gilliard's News Blog.

Steve's comments sections are long-gone now, existing only in the memories of those who found a home there and stomped the jolly fuck out of the trolls that sometimes stumbled through the door (Looking at you, "bloomie".)  But sometimes Steve would haul a comment up from below-decks and turn it into a post, so while all of my comments have turned to digital dust and blown away... thanks to Mr. Gilliard occasionally front-paging my comments, what you see below was saved from the bony fingers of internet entropy.

I am reposting it here because I think from time to time it is vital for us on the Left to to look back and remember just how fucking spot on we have always been about the GOP, and how aggressively we have been slandered and ignored by the Beltway media and by the political elite precisely because we have been right about the Right all along.

From The News Blog in March of 2005:
They are serious

Driftglass posted this in comments and it's too damn funny to stay there.
IMHO it’s as simple as: “Never jump into bed with someone who’s crazier than you are.”

For the Suburban Gated, the non-deranged gunnies and the Tax Cuts Uber Alles Republicans, it’s all jolly good fun having a romp with the Fundies…as long as they keep delivering the 20% margin the GOP must have to win anything and as long as they stay the fuck away from my house and family, its all just good kinky fun…

…until the sun comes up, and you realize that the Electoral Candy you were offered was just bait to get you into the Windowless Fundy Panel Truck. Oops.

And now you’re waaaay out in the country somewhere you don’t recognize without your pants, and you start to figure our that all the Burning Crosses and Swastikas and Apocalyptic Paraphernalia that tricks out the inside of the van isn't tatted-up Goth Chick posturing.

And Randall Terry and Tom DeLay wave to you from the front seat and say, “Mornin’ shug! Get ready; we gonna burn us some ‘a them Chirst Hatin’ Abortionists today.” Or Fags. Or Negros. Or Liberals. Or Ay-rabs. Or Jews. Or, really, Anybody.

And all of the slack-jawed yokels who were so eagerly helpful while you were passing you’re Lovely Tax Cuts are sitting around you giggling…and armed to their snaggled teeth.

And then you hear, “Bring Out The Gimp.” (Which, for my money, should be the Democrats’ Lead Media Message for the next four months.)

Oh. God. You mean these crazy fucks were serious? Like, really, really serious?!

No shit they’re serious, Suburban Weekend Bad-Ass -- and it's not exactly like you weren't given Ample Warning: Now they have your shriveled nuts in a razor-lined C-clamp, they want the very high interest vig on the Electoral Loan they made you to pay for your Optional War and Drunken Safety Net Shredding Good Times.
As I've been saying, the devil wants his due, and he's come to collect.

They thought they could play them forever. I guess forever is today,

 Other than a few of the names, there is absolutely nothing about this post from more than a decade ago from a long-dead blog that needs updating.

Absolutely nothing about the Right which we did not see coming and have been shouting from the rooftops since forever.

And that's a tragedy.

02 Sep 01:42

breezingby: curvethemoonshine: wow The Connection!!!




The Connection!!!

03 Sep 16:55

The Deep ForgerTwitter bot employs Neural Net Art Style method...

The Deep Forger

Twitter bot employs Neural Net Art Style method to create images in the style of requested paintings:

Send me your photos and I’ll make digital forgeries in the style of famous painters. A bot powered by Deep Neural Networks and an encyclopedic database of art!

Try it for yourself here

03 Sep 17:44

“Being Poor,” Ten Years On

by John Scalzi

Ten years ago today, I put the essay “Being Poor” on Whatever. I wrote the piece, as I explained later, in a rage at the after-events of Hurricane Katrina, when so many people asked, some genuinely and some less so, why many of the poor people didn’t “just leave” when the hurricane smashed into the Gulf Coast and New Orleans flooded. I wrote it not to offer a direct explanation but to make people understand what it was like to be poor, as I had been at various times in my life, and could therefore speak on with some knowledge. The piece wasn’t about how people became poor, or why there were poor — simply what it was like to be poor, and to then try to get through one’s life on a day-to-day basis.

I posted it because I had to. I was in a rage at what was happening in New Orleans in 2005, but I was also sick, literally physically sick about it, and for days I couldn’t understand why. I had no direct connection to New Orleans and there was no one there I considered a friend, and other, equally terrible disasters had hit the US before and had nowhere near the same effect on me. Ultimately I began to realize the difference this time was that I was aware how differently the disaster affected people along economic lines, and how the lack of useful planning and response to the disaster essentially punished New Orleans’ poor.

I was not of New Orleans and I was not of New Orleans’ poor. But having been poor in my life, I remembered the difficulties being poor imposes, the lack of options it offers, and circumstances it presents, when no way through is a good one. I had been there in my life, and the lack of understanding I saw radiating out from people about the situation made me sick almost to the point of vomiting. I had to do something or I felt like I would explode.

We had donated money, of course. But it wasn’t enough. So I sat down to write something, anything. What I came up with was a list of things from my personal experience and from the experience of people I knew in my life about poverty and what it was like to be in it. Later some people said the piece was a poem, and I can see that, and they might be right. At the time that wasn’t part of my thinking. I just wanted to get what was in my brain out into the world. I cried as I wrote it, putting the rage and sickness I felt into words. Then I posted it up on Whatever.

And it ended up going everywhere.

It was reprinted in the Chicago Tribune and the Dayton Daily News and dozens of other newspapers. It was linked to and pasted onto hundreds of Web sites. It was read out loud on the radio. It was shared in emails and mailing lists. Eventually it made its way into textbooks and other teaching materials. Churches and religious groups by the score asked permission to use it. In an age before Facebook and Twitter (and even MySpace, really), the piece went massively viral. I encouraged this, of course. As famously “pay me” as I am, “Being Poor” is one piece I have never taken money for. I allow it to be freely distributed and when people ask about payment, I tell them to donate to a local hunger or poverty charity. It’s meant to be shared and read, and read as widely as possible.

It continues to be read, a decade on. There hasn’t been a year since it was posted that it hasn’t been one of the most visited entries on Whatever; this year, it’s currently the third most-read piece on the whole site. Year in and year out, people find it, or come back to it. This makes me very happy.

Which is not to say that people didn’t find ways to try to pick it apart. When the piece came out, I didn’t go out of my way to note that the piece was based on my own experience, so a number of people questioned the veracity of the piece, and my right to write it. When I did make it clear that the piece was largely based on my own experience, some folks then wanted to maintain that I hadn’t really been poor, or that “American” poor is not really poor compared to the poverty elsewhere in the world, or they would focus on one particular bit in the piece and declaim how it was in some way inauthentic, therefore throwing out the whole piece. Others simply wanted to blame the poor for being poor in the first place.

There is of course not much to be done in those cases. I lived my poverty; I don’t need other people to decide whether I was poor enough for them. The American version of poverty may be “better” than poverty elsewhere, but it’s bad enough, both objectively and in context. And while I understand some people prefer to believe poor people deserve the poverty they’re in, I know it’s not true, or at the very least, is such a small part of why people are poor. I didn’t deserve to be poor when I was a child; I just was. The people I know now in poverty aren’t there because it’s some sort of cosmic or karmic justice; they work hard and try to better their lives. But the fact of poverty is: It’s a rough climb out, and a steep fall back, and it’s not as if everyone starts out in the same place.

That said, I admit to being an imperfect vessel to speak to poverty in America. I have been poor in my life. I am not now, nor have I been anything close to poor for my entire adult life. In fact I am on the opposite end of the spectrum. You can even say that in many ways my life encapsulates the Horatio Alger “rags to riches” American Dream narrative that we have embedded into our national DNA: Scrappy ambitious kid takes his chances and makes a few breaks for himself and comes out on top. It can happen to you too!

Except the thing I know that gets elided here is that I’m one of the very few “rags to riches” tales I know of. Anecdote is not data, and the data says that it’s tougher to move up the socio-economic ladder here in the US than it is in most other industrialized nations. Not impossible, and I am here to speak to that. But tougher. And I am here to speak to that too — because I know the breaks that I caught, including the fact that I got a scholarship to attend one of the best college preparatory high schools in the country, which I attended while simultaneously living in a trailer park. I was launched into the ranks of the socio-economic elite and I haven’t come back down. But I also know that not every kid in a trailer park gets the break I did, a break contingent on one school deciding to let me in, not a state or national will to make things better for poor children in general.

I have been poor, and am not. That makes me not the best spokesman for poverty. But I continue to see poverty, where I live and in the lives of people I know, and I am in a position where when I talk, people often listen. So this is a thing I will continue to speak on.

And it is a reason why I’m glad “Being Poor” continues to be part of the conversation on poverty. For what it’s done and what it continues to do, I’m proud to have written it. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.

03 Sep 07:59

tkingfisher: So I had all these bait ponies lying around from...


So I had all these bait ponies lying around from ages past and I had this Senecio I just picked up that needed a new pot and wound up with a bunch of extra strings lying around, and I said “Self, there is an obvious solution to both problems in front of you.”

This is easy to a point and then frustrating. Take off the head, yank out the tail, cut out the mane with an exacto, leaving a reasonably large opening, cut drainage holes in the feet, stuff coffee filters in the legs to keep the dirt from falling out, and fill with a super sharp-draining perlite-and-cactus soil mix. Then just stick the strands in. Theoretically they should re-root, in practice, they will at least take a good long time to die.

Filling a pony body with perlite and cactus soil is going high on my list of Extremely Annoying Jobs, though. Use a funnel or something, otherwise you have to carefully wash the pony to get the dirt off, and anything with peat will stain on unsealed paint. I had to paint this sucker twice. (It is no epic paintjob, but I wanted to at least match the colors.)

Honestly, if I were going to do this for a gift or to sell, I would probably skip the dirt parts and just glue air plants in instead. Or use fake succulents. But some clever soul with more patience than I could probably make some very cute little multi-species arrangements.

03 Sep 19:24

Teens Charged With Exploiting Themselves

by Kevin

Let me just warn you in advance that the following sentence will make no sense at all:

After a 16-year-old Fayetteville girl made a sexually explicit nude photo of herself for her boyfriend last fall, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office concluded that she committed two felony sex crimes against herself and arrested her in February.

To be fair, it's a perfectly valid English sentence until one reaches the word "that." Only then does it turn batsh*t insane.

As the Fayetteville Observer reports, the girl and her boyfriend (also 16 at the time) were discovered to be "sexting" each other, which came to light during an investigation of other photos being shared among teens without the consent of those pictured. Although their interaction was consensual, both of these teens were nonetheless charged with violating this law:

A person commits the offense of second degree sexual exploitation of a minor if, knowing the character or content of the material, he [or she]:

     (1)   Records, photographs, films, develops, or duplicates material that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity; or

     (2)   Distributes, transports, exhibits, receives, sells, purchases, exchanges, or solicits material that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity.

Both were also charged with third-degree exploitation, which is the crime of possessing the visual representation.

Specifically, she was charged with second-degree exploitation (of herself) for taking her own picture, and third-degree exploitation (of herself) for possessing it. He was charged with two counts of second-degree exploitation (of himself) for taking his own picture twice, two counts of third-degree exploitation (of himself) for possessing those pictures, and another count of third-degree exploitation for possessing her picture. So that's seven felony charges between the two of them, six of the charges alleging only self-exploitation.

Not only are these felony charges, a conviction would require them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

Not surprisingly, faced with this, the girl was willing to plead to a lesser charge. The district attorney said that in cases like this—that is, entirely consensual and between teens of similar ages—the state graciously will typically let a defendant plead guilty to a misdemeanor. So the girl has now pleaded guilty to "disseminating harmful material to minors." She was sentenced to a year of probation and must "take a class on how to make good decisions"—I assume she'll have to leave the state to find one of those—but won't have to register. The boy is still facing his five felony charges, including the four charges that he exploited himself. I'd be amazed if they didn't offer him a similar deal, but then I'm already amazed.

"That's crazy," said one expert who the Observer contacted about this story, and the other one they contacted thought that but didn't say it. Because studies show that almost a third of teens do this kind of thing, he did say, if this were the national standard "you're talking about millions of kids being charged with child pornography." (Since probably almost all of them actually do it, you're talking about three times as many millions.) Other states might not be so stupid or heavy-handed as to charge minors with exploiting themselves, but—well, what am I saying? Yes they would.

Here's just how crazy it is: it would not have been illegal in North Carolina for them to actually have sex.

The age of consent is 16. There's a law prohibiting anyone 16 or older from "taking indecent liberties with children," but the child must be under 16 and the defendant at least five years older. There's a law prohibiting "indecent liberties between children," but that law only applies to a person under 16 who takes "liberties" with someone at least three years younger. So it'd be perfectly legal for these two to have actual physical intercourse, but trading or even having naked pictures they took of themselves is a felony. Or seven.

That's crazy.

Also, here are some things that aren't felonies in North Carolina:

The anti-Klan law might be unconstitutional, of course, but it'd be nice if they at least pretended that was a more serious crime than consensual sexting.

Update: I forgot to mention that according to the Observer, the warrant for the girl's arrest named her "as both the adult perpetrator and the minor victim" of both charges. It is possible, of course, for the law to consider the same person an adult for one purpose (e.g. being drafted) and not an adult for another purpose (e.g. drinking alcohol), not that it necessarily makes any sense to do that. But calling the same person the perpetrator and victim of a crime—well, laws against suicide are the only other examples I can think of, and those seem pretty dumb too.