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01 Aug 00:03

Welcome to World Wide West: A Summit on the “Side Effects” of Technology

by Dorothy Santos
Entrance as I drove up to the farmhouse

Entrance to the World Wide West farmhouse (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

POINT ARENA, Calif. — A few months ago, a group of artists, writers, curators, and creative technologists received an email with a link to a video requesting participation in a summit held in the small coastal town of Point Arena, California. I was one of 30 individuals who received the message.

The World Wide West (WWWest) summit, the first yet, would revolve around “reachability,” or “technology’s promise to extend our reach,” and there would be excursions involved. Despite the relative lack of details, I was intrigued. I agreed to attend.

I arrived early Friday morning on July 17. The directions were extremely specific with a few turns off Highway 1 and an excruciatingly slow and awkward drive (5 mph) along a pebbly concrete road that led to the farm. I was relieved to see the distinct logo upon entering the property. I joined in on breakfast at the farmhouse where the other guests had already gathered, when, all of a sudden, we heard woman’s voice on the radio: “Attention. Attention. Please meet for orientation.” The organizers used the AM radio frequency 90.1 to create a World Wide West-dedicated radio station. The voice seemed to emanate in surround sound since there were radios all over the campgrounds.

World Wide West organizers Benjamin Lotan, Tara Shi, Liat Berdugo, and Sam Kronick provided us with a brief introduction of activities without providing much information on themselves. The orientation was on how to dig a trench for fiber optic cabling. We walked out to an enormous field (about 60 acres) along with an organizer who carried a long tree branch with a camera affixed at the end that was used as a selfie stick. Orange flags were placed along the path we were expected to dig the trench. We all got to work without questioning what was asked of us. With tools in hand, we took turns digging and loosening the soil with a pickaxe. I couldn’t help but think this was all a performance piece. It seemed like an homage to an Allen Kaprow happening.

World Wide West participants trenching in 60 acres of land with the extra long selfie stick

World Wide West participants trenching in 60 acres of land with the extra long selfie stick (click to enlarge)

During the summit, the internet manifested in a physical way I hadn’t imagined. I couldn’t help but think Andrew Blum’s book Tubes, a detailed account on the structures behind the internet. In 1956, AT&T installed transcontinental coaxial cables providing telephone service between the US, Hawaii, and Japan in Point Arena, since it’s closest in distance to the Hawaiian islands than any other point along the West Coast. The WWWest organizers took us to those cables. I never experienced a group of people so fascinated by infrastructure. We took photos and closely inspected the cables before touring the Level 3 facility that connects Point Arena’s fiber optic cables to the rest of the world. There, the WWWest’s organizers invited Point Arena native Zean Moore, who works with Further Reach, a company that provides high-speed internet to rural Northern California. Moore gave us tours of the technology center, cable station, and towers in the area. He explained the importance of his work and research in setting up internet access for the residents. This town of a little over 400 citizens is far more technologically important than I had imagined. The symbolism behind selecting Point Arena as a creative place and reprieve from urban, device-laden life was deliberate.

Impromptu conversations with each organizer revealed that Luton and Kronick were working on their MFAs while Shi was pursuing her BFA when they all met at University of California, San Diego. Kronick and Berdugo met last year when Berdugo was on the heels of having organized a new media arts summit titled Print Screen in Tel Aviv and was feeling inspired to bring something to the Bay Area. During a conversation regarding the impetus for WWWest, she commented,“I wanted to start something that would bring people together to think about technology and the digital landscape in meaningful and critical ways. Something that goes beyond the put-an-LED-on-it, superficial way of art making.”

Close-up of coaxial cables

Close-up of AT&T coaxial cables connecting to Hawaii and Japan

On Saturday morning, in the middle of the 60 acres of tall, dry grass, artists Liat Berdugo and Phoebe Osbourne led a session of “Unpatentable Micro Touch Aerobics.” In her research, Berdugo found that Apple holds 8,500 US patents, which include the pinch and spread-to-zoom gestures on the iPhone. She went through the process of patenting her own custom gesture as “choreography” with the US Copyright Office. But her submission was subsequently denied and re-classified as an “aerobics exercise program.” Hence the creation of the choreographed workout accompanied by Siri rapping Notorious B.I.G.’s song, “Hypnotize.” It was humorous and surreal performing multi-touch aerobics in the middle of a field under a bright blue sky.

/unpatentable Multitouch Aerobics 2Photo credit: Liat Berdugo

“Unpatentable Micro Touch Aerobics” in session (photo by Liat Berdugo)

After working out, we gathered on the deck and took turns reading excerpts from The Whole Internet, an O’Reilly media book by Ed Krol from 1994, which is still pegged as one of the best books on the internet, despite the incredibly dated writing. Sam Kronick, another WWWest organizer, read an excerpt on the invention of muzak from the book Blue Monday: Stories of Absurd Realities and Natural Philosophies by Robert Sumrell and Kazys Varnelis. The reading tied into the incessant playing of muzak all weekend on the WWWest radio station. The genre, we learned, was developed to create an optimal, productive work environment. The weekend was coming together.

Later on that night, despite feeling tired from all the sessions (and there were even more events I couldn’t attend), I participated in Ramsey Nasser’s Swordfight game. The game, as described on Nasser’s site, is “a physical, two-player game played with custom built, strap-on Atari 2600 controllers. The goal is to press your opponent’s action button with your joystick before the same is done to you.” As a player, you’re given parameters and obvious obstacles such as having your hands cuffed behind your back. But how one moves, tricks, dodges, and pokes the opponent is the key to winning. Reachability, in this particular sense, involved a lot more human ingenuity. Connecting the world is a lot like the game itself. The objective seems painfully easy, but means can be difficult.

After failed, albeit humorous, attempts at telling spooky stories, we proceeded to the barn where a xylophone made out of slats of wood, metal pipes, and rope provided for a couple hours of an impromptu jam session in the middle of the night. The sound of voices singing and making music could be heard from the farmhouse. We all felt a bit like kids at summer camp.


World Wide West organizers Tara Shi, Liat Berdugo, Sam Kronick, and Benjamin Lotan (GIF by the author for Hyperallergic)

On the final day of the summit, we participated in a Great After Question (GAQ) session. We shared our thoughts about what transpired, what worked, and how to bring our conversations into our respective practices. While it all may still sound a bit cult-like, it wasn’t. The overall feeling was one of experimentation, where were we disconnected and re-contextualized questions we might ask within our own work and research. What does it mean to enable people to connect to the internet while preserving a sense of community, despite rapid growth and economic change? What truly makes up the infrastructure allowing us to reach and obtain information, but in relationship to natural ecosystems? Asking these questions and many more in the absence or near-absence of technology has consumed my mind ever since.

The summit was reminiscent of events and gatherings facilitated by collectives such as Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT), founded in the late 1960s, and La Mamelle, Inc./Art Com established in the late 1970s. When people say there is no art scene in the Bay Area, I feel comfortable, especially now, refuting this perceived lack or absence. Granted, one may have to drive approximately 130 miles north of San Francisco, but there is something in the making and it’s powered by artists who believe in the impact of connectivity in both digital and analog forms. Not quite a summit, not quite a festival, and certainly not a conference, WWWest presents a new frontier into how creativity can flourish. While this burgeoning community grows in such an unlikely place, the experience transcended the mystique and allure of exclusivity. The organizers presented the beginning of putting the West back, as well as Point Arena, on the proverbial map of engaged and inclusive art making.

The World Wide West (WWWest) summit took place in Point Arena, California, July 16–19. 

01 Aug 00:40

9 Thoughts on Funhouse Art, Now with Cat GIFs!

by Cassie Packard
Carsten Höller, "Decision Corridors" (2015), installation view in 'Carsten Höller: Decision,' Hayward Gallery, London 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy of the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

Carsten Höller, “Decision Corridors” (2015), installation view in ‘Carsten Höller: Decision,’ Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy of the artist, photo © Linda Nylind) (all cat GIFs by the author for Hyperallergic)

1. I originally considered writing in a standard review format, but Carsten Höller’s retrospective Decision, currently on view at London’s Hayward Gallery, is more amenable to the listicle form.

Carsten Höller, "Two Flying Machines" (2015), installation view in 'Carsten Höller: Decision,' Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, photo © Ela Bialkowska, OKNO studio)

Carsten Höller, “Two Flying Machines” (2015), installation view in ‘Carsten Höller: Decision,’ Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, photo © Ela Bialkowska, OKNO studio)

2. Why? Because like a reductive narrative of the Egyptian revolution illustrated with Jurassic Park GIFs, the retrospective takes the stance that populism and approachability are incongruous with complexity and intellectual challenge. The Egyptian revolution listicle and Decision alike expose people who might not regularly read the news or visit a major art museum to those spaces, but at a considerable cost.

Carsten Höller, "Half Mirror Room" (2008/2015) and "Snake" (2014), installation view in 'Carsten Höller: Decision,' Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy of the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

Carsten Höller, “Half Mirror Room” (2008/2015) and “Snake” (2014), installation view in ‘Carsten Höller: Decision,’ Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy of the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

3. Before Decision even opened, I was informed that it would be very popular this summer. I wasn’t surprised. In the retrospective, Höller inserts an aesthetically pleasing fun fair into the Hayward’s Brutalist exhibition space. You might have seen or read about Gagosian’s booth at Frieze London this past year, which featured a Höller-designed playground for children; this installation is the bloated, adult version of that one. Höller speaks matter-of-factly (or uncritically, depending on who you ask) about the nature of the retrospective, saying: “This exhibition is a kind of funfair, but that’s what exhibitions are these days.”

Carsten Höller, "Upside Down Goggles" (2015), installation view in 'Carsten Höller: Decision,' Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

Carsten Höller, “Upside Down Goggles” (2015), installation view in ‘Carsten Höller: Decision,’ Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

4. At the Hayward, the viewer-cum-participant navigates various slick spectacles — my personal favorite was fat-bellied pink snakes lying uselessly on the floor — including a mushroom mobile, a “flying machine,” and the artist’s trademark giant slides, which via their coils vomit the viewer toward gallery exits. From time to time, the exhibition-goer must make a decision: Which of the semi-darkened tunnels, A or B, will you choose to navigate? Will you risk swallowing one of the synthetic red-and-white pills raining from the ceiling?

Carsten Höller, "Isomeric Slides" (2015) during installation of 'Carsten Höller: Decision' at Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (photo by David Levene, courtesy the artist and LUMA Foundation)

Carsten Höller, “Isomeric Slides” (2015) during installation of ‘Carsten Höller: Decision’ at Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (image courtesy the artist and LUMA Foundation, photo by David Levene)

5. Yet choice is illusory here. The tunnels, termed “Decision Corridors,” are virtually the same in structure and ejection point, and no one around me was considering taking the pills, probable placebos which had collected into a small mound of plastic, virtually untouched. Even an abundance of choice becomes specious when the options are interchangeable or irrelevant. Cue a lame joke about Höller being an entomologist prior to being a contemporary artist, and us being ants on his farm, ruminating over a selection of tiny tunnels.

Carsten Höller, "Isomeric Slides" (2015), installation view in 'Carsten Höller: Decision,' Hayward Gallery, London, 2015  (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist and LUMA Foundation, photo © Linda Nylind)

Carsten Höller, “Isomeric Slides” (2015), installation view in ‘Carsten Höller: Decision,’ Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist and LUMA Foundation, photo © Linda Nylind)

6. The false choice phenomenon at work in Decision made me think about late capitalism, about how all of the choices consumers are presented with might conceal an ultimate lack of one. Big, bright, and shiny, the objects in Höller’s arrangement reproduce not only a fun fair but also an art fair aesthetic. The retrospective’s giant dice (a version of which was displayed at the aforementioned Gagosian booth) and large blinking lights recall art fair booths trying to one-up each other with dazzling displays; for all the options, the works start to look pretty similar, a visual display of the homogenizing forces of globalization and capital.

Carsten Höller, "Two Roaming Beds (Grey)" (2015), installation view in 'Carsten Höller: Decision,' Hayward Gallery, London, 2015  (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

Carsten Höller, “Two Roaming Beds (Grey)” (2015), installation view in ‘Carsten Höller: Decision,’ Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

7. Höller’s jumbo spiraling slides, a #TBT to the five giant slides he installed in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2006, are intended to catalyze “an emotional state that is a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness.” There is something to be said for bodily experiences — induced or accidental, sought or stumbled-upon — that wrench you out of the everyday. And the transgressive potential of festival and reckless fun is certainly worth a conversation.

Carsten Höller, "Pill Clock" (2011/2015)installation view in 'Carsten Höller: Decision,' Hayward Gallery, London, 2015  (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

Carsten Höller, “Pill Clock” (2011/2015), installation view in ‘Carsten Höller: Decision,’ Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

8. But Decision doesn’t push far enough beyond the amusement park. In the artist’s original vision, roving beds on wheels moved throughout the museum, even up and down in elevators, but that never came to fruition. While the roving beds do exist, they feebly totter around a confined space. And when it comes to being disorienting or overwhelming, the famous art slides, while certainly diverting, fall short. In the age of the experience economy, art fairs and galleries are — along with everyone else — so frequently aiming to produce entertaining experiences that a fun fair decontextualization doesn’t count for as much as the artist might want it to. This may be where relational aesthetics dead-ends, reproducing the corporate space it originally sought an alternative to.

Carsten Höller, "Dice (White Body, Black Dots)" (2014;), "Half Mirror Room" (2008/2015), and "Snake" (2014), installation view in 'Carsten Höller: Decision,' Hayward Gallery, London, 2015  (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

Carsten Höller, “Dice (White Body, Black Dots)” (2014;), “Half Mirror Room” (2008/2015), and “Snake” (2014), installation view in ‘Carsten Höller: Decision,’ Hayward Gallery, London, 2015 (art © Carsten Höller, image courtesy the artist, photo © Linda Nylind)

9. I like mindless fun, even when I am saturated with it, because I am a human being. But art is a space where I can ask for something richer. Decision infantilizes its viewers by catering to our craving for easy entertainment, for a noninvasive experience you can put away when you’re done. We are not gumming babies, traumatized by the appearance of teeth. Give me something with bite.

Carsten Höller: Decision continues at Hayward Gallery (Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London) through September 6.

31 Jul 21:37

officialbabydoll: Fun Girly Tip:Every time a creepy dude messages you, respond with quotes from the...


Fun Girly Tip:

Every time a creepy dude messages you, respond with quotes from the Communist Manifesto and no other explanation. Not only will you deter him, but you may also enlighten him about the bourgeoisie.

03 Jul 10:10

I’m not a machine, just an efficient human!

by Sophia, NOT Loren!

I have fun on Facebook, usually.  I post fun stuff on my own Wall/Timeline/Whatever-the-fuck-they-call-it-this-week, I hang out in fun groups which are invitation-only where like-minded people create small communities and share conversation and pictures that might not be acceptable in the greater “Facebook Community” but are certainly within the guidelines of our groups.

I also “Like” a lot of pages, especially now that I’ve started from scratch after having a previous account deleted within the last month or so; I’m trying to get back to where I once was… I lost so much when that account got nuked.

A few minutes ago, I posted something fun in one of the groups I mentioned above.  Then I found myself faced with the very clear sign that something was wrong: “You are not logged in,” Facebook warns me, which means that they’ve logged me out to scold me.  Sure enough, I was faced with a statement that one of my pictures had been removed for “violating community standards,” and had to click a box that says “yeah, I know, I know, Facebook is a place for sunshine and bunnies and cute things that are safe for every single child everywhere, and I solemnly swear I will be a completely boring prude forever and ever more.”  Something like that, anyway — that’s the general idea at least.

Then I got the following screen:

Not Human

We don’t believe you’re human. Prove it!

After clicking “Continue,” I was presented with tagged photos of my Facebook friends, and required to correctly identify enough of them to prove I’m a really-real person instead of an automated script.  Thing is, I don’t know every last one of the people I’m connected to on Facebook!  I know that statement is nearly blasphemy, because the only sanctioned use for the service is to rate the attractiveness of the girls on your college campus keep in touch with people you already know from someplace besides Facebook (sorry, I forgot for a moment that I’m not Zuckerberg…) and I failed the test the first time around.  The second time I tried, I accidentally clicked “Skip” instead of “Next” on a set of photos I could identify, which counted as a strike against me, and the next set of photos wasn’t even of a person… just various pictures they or their friends had tagged themselves in, as people do with that.  Except, of course, that can’t possibly happen, because the only sanctioned use of “tagging” a photo is to expand the database of facial recognition data to hand over to the NSA identify your friends in the photos you share, not to play “tagging games.”

Sometime after an hour or so has passed, I may be allowed to try again.  I’d love to use my cellphone to verify my identity, but I never could get Facebook’s system to communicate with my mobile number, no matter how many times I told it to “resend code.”  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get my account back, and I really don’t know if I can deal with attempting to start over again.  I need the support and the coping tools and the connection, but if this is the constant cost of that — being fucked over again and again unless I become someone entirely different than myself, unless I front for everyone I care about most — then I don’t think I can do it.

Filed under: General
01 Aug 04:30



31 Jul 22:47

IP in the TPP

by Robert Farley

J-31 fighter prototype at the Zhuhai airshow. By 天剣2 – Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

My latest at the Diplomat takes a look at some of the logics for why the US is pursuing a hard line on IP in the TPP:

One of the biggest ongoing arguments in the TPP negotiations (as far as we know, anyway) remains the question of how far the United States can push the other signatories to adopt its views on intellectual property law. The contentious points revolve around the ability to undertake criminal legal action against IP violators. “The U.S. wants the standards for damages to be very high, and to go beyond TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) obligations for injunctions and the destruction of infringing goods,” according to James Love of Knowledge Economy International. The United States has also pushed for increasing the ability of government to undertake criminal legal procedures against intellectual property infringers.

What’s at stake? The criminalization of IP infringement in a multilateral agreement would give the United States legal teeth for enforcing its preferred system of intellectual property protection across the world.

31 Jul 05:05

Thanks for the Mention? Sex Work and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States

by bppp

Today, the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) released the “National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States (Updated to 2020)” and once again fails to address the needs of sex workers. The rights of sex workers and the movement to fight HIV are interconnected in very real ways, yet government agencies continue to erase the needs and rights of sex workers by excluding them from community consultation sessions and refusing to hear what sex workers have to say. When ONAP sought community consultation to update the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, not one word was mentioned to sex worker advocates. They asked leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS to give their opinions about various topics related to addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but somehow failed to find sex workers important enough to hear out their opinions. In response, the recently established research team directed by Best Practices Policy Project and Desiree Alliance to author “Nothing About Us, Without Us: HIV/AIDS-Related Community and Policy Organizing for US Sex Workers,” the nation’s first report on HIV and sex work with a particular focus on people who are transgender, sent a letter to ONAP to voice our concerns.35 my feet and some signs

In our letter we noted that the 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy makes no mention of sex workers, despite the fact that sex workers have been organizing for decades around these very issues. The updated policy is almost the same in this regard, taking a tiny step to mention the term “sex work” once, but nothing regarding the systematic exclusion of sex worker organizations from HIV policy decisions has changed. Cris Sardina, the director of Desiree Alliance, viewed the live streaming of the release of the policy today. “They mentioned over and over that stigma needs to be removed, yet one of the most vulnerable populations were excluded from these discussions,” she concluded. “Sex workers are stigmatized within stigmatized populations. Sex workers affected by HIV/AIDS didn’t have a voice in the national discussions today. That these voices, so important a component to these policy-making platforms, were merely an afterthought on a couple of pages is disheartening.” Our joint letter to ONAP already expressed our disappointment to policy makers that the very communities they claim to be helping are left out of the consultation process. Finding barriers to preventing the spread of HIV are impossible to find without working with communities living with and affected by HIV. Despite this, sex workers are continually left out as a community partners and transgender women are continually misgendered by the Centers for Disease Control as being classified as “Men who have sex with Men” – an inappropriate classification that ignores the profound sociological (and biological) differences between transgender women and gay, bisexual, or questioning men.

The letter also addresses concerns about the continued criminalization of the sex trade, as it has caused numerous health consequences for those involved and perceived to be involved as sex workers. Undoubtedly, the President’s goal to reduce HIV incidence is hindered by law enforcement policies across the nation to continue using condoms as evidence of prostitution and human trafficking related cases. Without proper labor rights and working conditions, sex workers may make decisions that affect their health. When accessing health care, sex workers face open discrimination and poor medical counseling due to their status for working in the sex trade. These are serious health considerations that impact addressing HIV in the United States, but apparently not relevant enough to be included in the United State’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Sex worker organizations that engage in grassroots harm reduction–often entirely without funding to do so because of the erasure of our communities as leaders in prevention strategies–have long recognized the gulf between what is said in the national policy and the lived experiences of sex workers. A representative of SWOP Maryland and harm reductionist working with migrant sex workers and survival workers who are often homeless, read over the new policy this afternoon. “They said the word ‘sex work’ in the policy, I liked that. I jumped up when I saw it,” she said, “but the policy is contradictory and fails to analyze the implications of certain interventions for criminalized groups. They are talking about testing people and their partners, but if you are a sex worker, what does it mean that  you are going test me and my partners? How will that work since we are criminalized and stigmatized?”

Thanks to Derek Demeri and NJRUA for this blog post with input from Penelope Saunders (BPPP), SWOP MD and Desiree Alliance

31 Jul 10:16

I support Amnesty International’s draft policy on sex work

by stavvers

Content warning: this post discusses whorephobia and violence against women.

If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know that a bunch of Hollywood celebrities who are not sex workers have recently started attacking human rights campaign group Amnesty International. You see, Amnesty have taken the very welcome step of considering sex workers human and prioritising their human rights by supporting decriminalisation of sex work.

In their draft policy, they say that the purpose of this is to “prevent and redress human rights violations against sex workers” as well as pointing out that policies involving criminalisation “make those who sell sex vulnerable to human rights violations”. This succinctly sums up a position which current sex workers have been advocating for.

Despite wilful point-missing by those who wish to attack Amnesty for understanding that sex workers need to be protected from human rights violations, Amnesty are explicitly against trafficking, and make some fairly basic suggestions which are Too Hard for those who’d sooner throw vulnerable women into prison than make structural changes. From Amnesty’s list of underlying principles of their document:

5. Amnesty International’s longstanding position that trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation should be criminalised as a matter of international law; and, further that any child involved in a commercial sex act is a victim of sexual exploitation, entitled to support, reparations, and remedies, in line with international human rights law, and that states must take all appropriate measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
6. Evidence that some individuals who engage in sex work do so due to marginalisation and limited choices, and that therefore Amnesty International should urge states to take appropriate measures to realize the economic, social and cultural rights of all people so that no person enters sex work against their will, and those who decide to undertake sex work should be able to leave if and when they choose.
7. The obligation of states to protect every individual in their jurisdiction from discriminatory policies, laws and practices, given that the status and experience of being discriminated against are themselves often key factors in what leads people into sex work.
8. States have a duty to ensure that sex workers from groups at risk of discrimination and marginalisation enjoy full and equal protection under relevant international instruments, including for example, those pertaining to the rights of Indigenous Peoples and ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

I am quoting this here, because Amnesty’s decriminalisation draft policy has been misrepresented repeatedly in the media.

I support decriminalisation because current sex workers say it would make their work safer, allowing them to self-organise in unions for labour rights, facilitating access to health and safety measures, and allowing involvement of the police in the unfortunate situations where they do face sexual or physical violence.

I have taken two actions to support Amnesty’s draft policy on decriminalisation on request of sex workers.

Firstly, I have signed this petition–this takes two minutes, and you don’t really have an excuse not to!

And secondly, I have sent the email below to Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty:

Subject: I support AI’s draft policy on sex work

Dear Mr Shetty,

I am writing to support Amnesty International’s Draft Policy on sex work. I myself have never worked as a sex worker, but like your organisation, I have taken the time to listen to current sex workers talking about what would make their work safer, and reached the conclusion that decriminalisation is the best route towards accepting their dignity and humanity, as well as increasing safety.

I am aware that your organisation has faced a lot of pressure from high-profile individuals who do not respect these principles, and I am writing to express my support for what you are doing. Struggles for human rights often meet with stubborn resistance with those who would rather things remained the same, with some groups pushed to the margins. I have long respected Amnesty’s stance of pushing against this resistance, and I hope that your organisation will stand firm in the face of this and continue to maintain your evidence-based and human rights-focused approach towards sex worker rights.

Many thanks for what you are doing.

31 Jul 10:58

Sum of the Arts

by Allison Meier
Library card given this month to Yoda the Owl from the University of Bath, in thanks for keeping the intrusive seagull population at bay (via University of Bath)

Library card given this month to Yoda the Owl from the University of Bath, in thanks for keeping the intrusive seagull population at bay (via University of Bath)

Inspired by the Harper’s Index, Sum of the Arts is a periodic tabulation of numbers floating around the art world and beyond.

31 Jul 12:06

Mysteria Misc. Maxima: July 31st, 2015

by Sarah Veale

Mysteria Misc. Maxima is a weekly feature which brings together links on religion and esotericism from around the internet.

Photo by Wiredforlego.

Filed under: M.M.M.
31 Jul 14:10

Support Salon Unionizing

by Erik Loomis


Salon’s writers are forming a union. Salon won’t recognize said union to this point. There is an internet campaign to publicize this. If you are on Twitter, please send messages to @Salon with the hashtag #SalonUnion to support this effort.

31 Jul 13:46

Macintosh LabsVisual experiments by emiliogomariz combines...

Macintosh Labs

Visual experiments by emiliogomariz combines rainbow gradients with the visual mechanics of the Mac OSX desktop interface:

Macintosh Lab mostly plays with animated concepts working with the dynamic features from the own operative system, but there are also few static series made of screenshots where a specific moment on the desktop is captured to be documented as a photograph.

Operative systems and graphic user interfaces are designed to mimic the same organizing methods and items (desktop, folder, document, file..) we use irl, so when working on the computer desktop the feeling is pretty physical while dragging and placing items, as it’s for working composing  different elements into the space as well as setting up the start of an animated performance, the best example for this digital and physical relationship could be External/Internal where the digital icons are organized as real physical objects.

Vertical Desktops also plays with a static concept, consisting on blocking the folders while they are minimized to the dock, this process has been done for single folders as well as for a bunch of folders that were going down, right or left on the way to the dock, so they all are stopped at once in the middle of that sensual and organic movements provided by the Genie Effect. In order to get a major chaotic abstraction into the desktop, the folders have been blocked while going to different directions, which is where the dock was placed at the time of minimizing that same folder.

You can find more examples and descriptions here

31 Jul 16:07

The Importance of Fetal Tissue Research

by Scott Lemieux

MItch McConnellAbove: America’s Most Radical Feminist

I can’t say I was persuaded by arguments that I should stop supporting abortion rights because of the NEW VIDEO EVIDENCE that abortion clinics perform abortions. Is it wrong to collect fetal tissue for research? Of course not:

For five years, I watched my best friend die of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a terrible disease that causes one’s muscles to waste away. First he struggled to walk, then to speak, then to breathe. One tube pushed air into his lungs; another pushed nutrients into his stomach. Toward the end, he could only move his eyes. ALS does not affect the brain; through it all, he remained perfectly aware of his slow-motion torture. After years of suffering, he died of respiratory failure, his body skeletal and ravaged, his mind alert to his suffocation until the last moments of life.

There is currently no cure for ALS. There will be some day. And that cure may very well be derived from stem cells taken from aborted fetuses.

I can’t help but remember that fact when I watch the videos, taken by undercover anti-abortion activists, of Planned Parenthood technicians discussing how to preserve fetal tissue to be donated for research. The graphic images of aborted fetuses are meant to disgust me, to convince me that abortion is a barbaric act of killing. But I don’t see death in these videos. I see hope.

OK, but it’s still true that only the most hardcore Trotskyist would support a policy as radical as fetal tissue research:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fast-tracked a bill to defund Planned Parenthood on Friday because of an undercover video of a Planned Parenthood doctor discussing the donation of fetal tissue after abortions. But McConnell was one of many Republicans who voted to lift a ban on fetal tissue donations after abortions in 1993 — the very move that legalized Planned Parenthood’s actions.

31 Jul 17:07

More Axes Fall At Comcast's Red-Headed Stepchild Network

by driftglass

As the Republican Party sheds the last tattered scraps of ersatz respectability to let its Inner Brownshirt run nekkid and free...

...and as the direct connection between the rise of Conservative Hate Media, the calculated derangement of the Conservative rank-and-file...

...and the collapse of our capacity for self-government is drawn more clearly and plainly than ever before...
Over at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, where she was a fellow this spring, longtime New York Times political reporter Jackie Calmes has released a long, fascinating discussion paper on the role of the conservative media in this state of affairs: "'They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing': Conservative Media’s Influence on the Republican Party."
...the last freehold of opposition to this avalanching catastrophe on television is getting Another!Exciting!New!Makeover! (h/t Alert Reader Kathleen O'Neill):
MSNBC Confirms Change Is Hard, Chuck Todd In, ‘The Cycle,’ ‘Now With Alex Wagner,’ ‘The Ed Show’ Out
The Rosetta Stone you need to understand why in the name of Sweet Steamboat Jesus clowns like Squint and the Meat Puppet and their entire menagerie of Beltway hacks and buffoons are keeping their sweet, sweet jobs, but Ed Schultz is being handed his walking papers is to be found here (emphasis added):
Alex Wagner will stay with MSNBC and play a key role in our political coverage as we head into the 2016 election. And Ari Melber will continue in his role as Chief Legal Correspondent. But we will be parting ways with some friends – Ed Schultz, Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman and Toure will be leaving MSNBC. Please join me in thanking them for their numerous contributions over the past several years, and in wishing them great success.

Beginning in a few weeks, Chuck Todd will bring his unmatched brand of political insight and analysis back to MSNBC with a daily one-hour program. That show will air weekdays at 5pm.
Yeah, if you still have room on your  Wall of Beltway Media Shame, you can mount that giant "Fuck You!" to whatever is left of sentient American right next to the lovely pairing of the very-nearly-pubescent Jonathan Greenberger (ABC's Washington Bureau chief, vice president and executive producer of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”) sacking a bunch of staffers at ABC just a few months ago  --
Starting today, we launch a new approach to the way we operate, unifying the Bureau into a single team serving every platform within ABC News. As part of this transformation, we will unfortunately have to redefine some jobs and say goodbye to some of our colleagues, as we’ll need fewer people in some operations, engineering and general assignment editorial posts. This decision did not come easily, but we feel it is necessary for the continued strength of our Bureau in a rapidly changing landscape.
-- with the very same Jonathan Greenberger announcing just a year earlier that he had hired Bill "Always Wrong" Kristol because Kristol is a "brilliant, original thinker"
So excited to have @ananavarro & Bill Kristol join our outstanding @ABC political team. Both brilliant, original thinkers #ThisWeek
— Jonathan Greenberger (@greenbergerj) February 2, 2014

It has never been more obvious that there are certain topics which Organized Money does not want us talking about.  Which means that even as we watch the remnants of "liberal" MSNBC being bagged up and tossed into the same grave as Air America, we are obliged to talk about those things even louder.
31 Jul 15:52

Waiting for BárðarbungaInstallation by François Quévillon...

Waiting for Bárðarbunga

Installation by François Quévillon explores the subject of monitoring in nature with technology, with a computer that monitors and displays looping videos of remote volcanic areas of Iceland:

Waiting for Bárðarbunga is made of hundreds of video sequences which are presented according to the evolution of a statistical model that integrates data about the state and activity of the computer that presents them : temperature of components, fan speed and energy consumption. The video database consists of stationary camera shots that last a few seconds each. Most of them can be seamlessly looped and sometimes evoke remote webcams watching isolated areas. The audiovisual sequences are interconnected one to the other inside a rhizomatic structure. They are grouped and linked according to formal, conceptual, location-based and event-based characteristics. Amongst others, they show rivers under surveillance, glaciers breaking into drifting icebergs, foggy landscapes, hissing steam vents, boiling mud and geothermal power plants. The non-linear audiovisual piece evolves based on a probabilistic system influenced by real-time information coming from the computer’s sensors. According to the amplitude of their variation and the correlations between the types of data, what the viewer experiences ranges from comtemplative spaces where time seems to be suspended to energy-charged audiovisual blasts.

More Here

31 Jul 18:04

TSA: Terror Sorority Alert

by Kevin

Seriously, I'm already way behind on other stuff—could the TSA stop doing stupid $&*# for maybe 48 hours? Is that possible?

Today's report (thanks, Erika) is that thousands of passengers were delayed for hours at Hobby Airport in Houston, many missing their flights entirely, because the TSA was befuddled by a sorority-convention souvenir booklet.

"We had a large group with a large number of bags to be checked and because of a certain item in those bags there was additional screening necessary," said Bill Begley with Hobby Airport.

A spokesman for the airport says the sorority members were apparently given thick booklets at the convention that could be mistaken for explosives when packed into checked bags. The booklets forced TSA officials to hand check most of the luggage.

"Our souvenir booklet, apparently it's too thick and because of all the colored photos in it, it appears to look like some sort of plastic explosive," [Cassandra] Tomes said.

Books can be dense (no pun intended) and so can look to an X-ray-machine operator like a block of something potentially scary. This happened to me once some time ago, back when I carried paper books, apparently not just because of the book but because I had also thrown some computer cords into the suitcase. So, okay—a big opaque block in some guy's suitcase, apparently with wires sticking out of it, that I understand. But if hundreds of people show up with the same book on the same day, once our Last Line of Defense gets a few dozen looks at it I'd assume they would, you know, communicate with each other and understand it's not a threat.

Of course, I suppose it's not impossible that ISIS coordinated an attack plan with the annual Delta Sigma Theta convention. But the chances of that are sufficiently close to zero that I'd feel safe waving these ladies through.

Oh—"In addition, a few TSA machines broke. That combined with the sheer volume of travelers created the perfect storm for delays." Yep, it was the perfect storm all right. Again we are subject to the whims of a capricious Universe. What can one do?

31 Jul 19:43

E-Squared Wants To Take The Kobayashi Maru Out For A Spin

by tengrain
Star Trek nerds know that the Kobayashi Maru is a no-win training scenario that is designed to see how leaders react under pressure of imminent failure: I mention this only because our old Pal E-Squared has decided to lead his forced-birthers … Continue reading →
31 Jul 20:00

This Week in Short Fiction

by Claire Burgess

When literary magazines publish “Women’s Issues,” they can run the danger of making women into a theme. As if fiction by and about women is a curiosity, something to enjoy for a moment, in one issue a year, before returning to your regularly scheduled old white men programming. The title itself can imply that the pages therein are devoted to, well, women’s issues (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but women don’t only write about women’s issues), sending grown men running for the hills for fear of reading about menstruation (their loss). But sometimes, a women’s issue comes along that takes those stereotypical “women’s issues” and completely turns them on their heads. I’m talking about Gigantic’s Women’s Issue, which went live this Tuesday.

With stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman, Silvina Ocampo, Xuan Juliana Wang, and Vanessa Norton, this isn’t your grandma’s women’s issue. Each under 1,000 words, the stories are sharp, unexpected, and unrelenting. In “The Internees,” Bergman gives us a story of the prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp reconnecting to their womanhood through expired lipstick. Wang gives us passive aggressive wedding planning and a cat that’s slowly changing colors in “Sooner or Later.” In “Precious,” Norton tells a story of a couple who compulsively buys Buff Orpingtons (which are not mythological creatures from Harry Potter, but are in fact a breed of chicken), only to abandon them when they cease being cute. And in “Forgotten Journey,” Ocampo addresses where babies come from in a way that can only be described as nightmarish.

Each of these stories addresses a stereotypical “women’s issue,” but in ways that subvert and complicate them. The lipstick in Bergman’s story has nothing to do with female vanity and everything to do with feeling human again in the most dehumanizing situation. In Wang’s story, the wedding planning is less about romance and building a future and more about the inevitable demise of a relationship. The couple in Norton’s “Precious” continually replace their pet chick every three weeks because once it starts growing into a chicken, once it stops being precious, they find they can’t love it anymore. And Ocampo gives us a version of the “birds and the bees” talk that appropriately reflects how earth-splitting that moment can be when a young girl learns what her body is capable of.

The stories in Gigantic’s Women’s Issue are funny and dark, complex and surprising, disturbing and powerful. There’s nothing here that’s maudlin or cute, not even the baby chickens. These, truly, are women’s issues.

Related Posts:

31 Jul 20:17

Gulf Labor Hips Venice Biennale Visitors to UAE Labor Abuses

by Vega Partesotti
The Gulf Labor Coalition panel at the 2015 Venice Biennale on July 29 (all photos by Andrea Avezzù, courtesy la Biennale di Venezia)

The Gulf Labor Coalition panel at the 2015 Venice Biennale on July 29 (all photos by Andrea Avezzù, courtesy la Biennale di Venezia)

VENICE — On Wednesday the Gulf Labor Coalition held the first in a series of four panels it is organizing as part of the 2015 Venice Biennale. Held in the Arena of the Biennale’s Central Pavilion, the first conference was attended by about 60 people, a mix of journalists, activists, and Biennale visitors. Artists Walid Raad and Shaina Anand opened the session by presenting the history and the activities of the Coalition, as well as addressing the situation of migrant workers employed at the building sites of the Guggenheim and the Louvre museum outposts on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Some of the most visible aspects of the problems facing migrant workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are overwork and the lack of safe conditions, which often leads to accidents, some of which can be fatal — like a recent death at the Louvre Abu Dhabi site.

“Most of [the workers] discover at their arrival that they will be paid much less than expected and have their passport confiscated by the recruitment agency, which is an illegal procedure anywhere in the world,” explained a representative of the International Trade Union of Building Workers (ITUBC). He went on to describe the Gulf nations as an open prison for migrant workers: “In Qatar also many migrants workers are building the facilities for the FlFA World Cup, which will be held in 2022, in the same conditions as those in Abu Dhabi. Like the Guggenheim and the Louvre do, FIFA claims that the security and well-being of the workers are the local government’s responsibility.”

Renaud Detalle from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights added: “Several international conventions on labor issues already exist, but the UAE have not signed all of them.”

Even the embassies seem powerless or unwilling to protect their citizens from these abuses, and with trade unions being prohibited in the Emirates, the only way for the workers to defend their rights is to go to court. “The problem is that in the UAE most of the judges are also migrant workers, so their freedom of judgment is very limited,” Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Workers Confederation, pointed out.

In fact, labor problems in the Gulf countries do not only affect “low-skilled” workers, as illustrated by the case of Algerian-French football player Zahir Belounis, who was refused an exit visa to leave Qatar because of a legal dispute with his former team over two years of unpaid wages.

The Gulf Labor Coalition panel at the 2015 Venice Biennale on July 29 (all photos by Andrea Avezzù, courtesy la Biennale di Venezia)

The Gulf Labor Coalition panel at the 2015 Venice Biennale on July 29

“After the Arab Spring of 2011, Abu Dhabi strongly repressed the requests for more democracy coming from its own citizens: some of them have been given life sentences and most organizations of local civil society — like the teachers’ association — have been dismantled by the government,” explained Nick McGeehan, Human Rights Watch’s researcher for Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE. “Personally, I think the whole Saadiyat Island project is just a public relations exercise, and has nothing to do with art or culture and the freedom of thinking that should come with them.”

In the past five years, members of the Gulf Labor Coalition have interviewed dozens of workers, both in Saadiyat Island labor camps and in their countries of origin for those who were deported after protesting to get paid — some workers don’t get paid for months. In India, activists also investigated the procedures for hiring workers to go to the UAE. “One of the main points is to convince the building companies operating in the Gulf, most of which are European, to hire the workers directly, instead of draw upon sub-contractors,” said Indian artist and activist Shaina Anand. “That would force them to finally take their responsibilities toward these people.”

The cover of 'The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor,' edited by Andrew Ross (courtesy OR Books)

The cover of ‘The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor,’ edited by Andrew Ross (courtesy OR Books)

The group’s research is included in The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor, a book edited by Gulf Labor member and NYU professor Andrew Ross that was presented after Wednesday’s panel. The book, which will be released in October, includes essays by scholars and activists about the labor situation in the Gulf countries and the actions undertaken by the Gulf Labor Coalition in the past two years to pressure the Guggenheim Foundation into doing something about the rights of the workers building its Abu Dhabi outpost. (Another launch event for Ross’s book will take place at the Venetian non-profit space S.a.L.E Docks on August 7, following a performance deconstructing Frank Gehry‘s design for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.) Much information on the subject is also collected in a new Gulf Labor report titled “For Security Reasons.”

Even though the Guggenheim Foundation has claimed to be concerned about these problems, their actions suggest otherwise. The question remains whether the Guggenheim and Louvre are prepared to see their names linked to human rights violations and to risk future boycotts from artists and arts professionals — many of whom support the Gulf Labor Coalition’s efforts and have signed open letters calling attention to the situation on Saadiyat Island.

Attendees at Wednesday’s event, especially the Italians, seemed shocked by the revelations and asked the speakers questions after the conference. Even though Italian media have reported on labor conditions for migrant workers in the UAE in the past, the issue seems virtually unknown to the Biennale public. Hopefully, the Gulf Labor Coalition’s presence in Venice will help remedy this.

Remaining Gulf Labor Coalition panels at the 2015 Venice Biennale will take place in the Arena on August 2, August 5, and August 9.

31 Jul 20:17

GOP War On Women Update

by Scott Lemieux

B6d2HiVCAAIskn7.jpg large

  1. Mike Huckabee wants to send abortion back to the states…with federal troops!  You know, I’m almost beginning to consider the possibility that the Republican desire to overrule Roe v. Wade may not be motivated by a principled commitment to federalism. 
  2. Meanwhile, in our glorious laboratories of democracy, some forced childbirth for you.
  3. Jeb! Bush didn’t get the memo that Planned Parenthood is new Klan in a timely manner.
  4. Erick Erickson is not a crank. 
31 Jul 20:36

Portraits of Mia, Daylen and EllenNet Art exhibition piece for...

Portraits of Mia, Daylen and Ellen

Net Art exhibition piece for the digitalsweatgallery featuring work by mynameiseno on the subject of female online presence and male reaction:

In this series of portraits I attempt to show the way these girls present themselves online and the way they are perceived by their male audiences.

You can see the piece here

31 Jul 21:47

Toddler Enjoys Lawyer-Themed Birthday Party

by Kevin

Well, this seems to have happened in January but didn't receive the publicity it deserves until the WSJ's Law Blog covered it recently. Obviously I need better sources in Prairieville, Louisiana.

That's the home of the Dobra family, whose youngest member apparently watches a disturbing amount of daytime TV, because according to his family two-year-old Grayson is an enormous fan of plaintiffs' lawyer Morris Bart—or at least his TV ads:

“Before he could walk or talk, every time the Morris Bart commercial would come on, he was just fixated,” [Grayson's mom] says. “You couldn’t talk to him. You couldn’t do anything with him. He would just sit and stare at the TV. You could call his name, give him a toy. He didn’t care. He just wanted to watch the Bart commercial. He’s been that way ever since, and when he started talking he would say, ‘One call’ or ‘Bart, Bart, Bart, Morris Bart, Morris Bart.’

“They were not his first words, but they were a close second and third,” says Dobra.

Morris Bart (YouTube)
So as Grayson's second birthday approached, the family had a ready-made idea for a birthday-party theme.

His mom even contacted Bart's office, asking if he might be able to make an appearance. The local paper says the firm's marketing director initially didn't think the request was for real, which is not surprising because it absolutely seems like something you might see in The Onion. (It isn't. I checked.) But Ms. Dobra was able to convince them, and while Bart couldn't make it himself he sent the kid a signed picture, a T-shirt and a variety of other goodies. "They were so nice about the whole process," she said. "They never once said, 'You're crazy. Leave us alone' or anything like that."

BartcakeNeither did the bakery who made them this cake.

Grayson is said to have loved the party, although his mom admitted he was "kind of shocked" by the life-size cardboard cutout of Morris Bart when he unwrapped it. He seems to have gotten over that, although I don't think we'll know for sure unless we have a chance to talk to his therapist in a couple of decades. For now, though, he's fine.

“He still loves his Morris Bart shirt,” [his mom] says. “If you put it on him, you’d better not try to take it off. He will throw a fit. He has his two photos on the nightstand, and he likes to give Morris Bart a kiss goodnight sometimes. He is literally obsessed with Morris Bart.”

Well, he's probably fine.

31 Jul 22:02

Woman in Maine Dies of a Heroin Overdose and You Should Give a Shit

by Rude One
This is from the obituary for Coleen Sheran Singer from the Bangor Daily News on July 29: "She was a victim of herself, of [Maine Governor] LePage’s politics, of our society’s continuing ignorance and indifference to mental illness, and of our society’s asinine approach to drug addiction." Singer died of an overdose of heroin, to which she had been addicted to for nearly half her life. She tried to get help: "For nearly four years Coleen was in methadone clinics and dedicated herself to sobriety. Taking to heart the adage that 'without drugs, anything is possible,' and with the sometimes slavish devotion of the man she briefly married, Coleen earned her driver’s license, went to the gym regularly, completed nail tech school, worked successfully both part time in retail sales and full time caring for disabled adults, and enrolled in community college."

By the way, the man she briefly married is who wrote this obituary, a last act of love for someone whose illnesses didn't allow her to love herself the way she needed to.

After falling back into using, Singer found that her chances of getting treated again had dried up: "In later years, after LePage removed poor adults from MaineCare, Coleen could not afford the methadone clinic. Heroin was the cheapest way to avoid going into withdrawal...Coleen wanted to get back into a methadone clinic, but LePage and enough republicans in the Legislature said 'No' to the Medicaid expansion. It is no stretch to say that but for LePage’s veto of the Medicaid expansion, Coleen probably would not have shot the heroin that ended her life, and probably would not have had the serious recurring infections that ravaged her limbs the last couple years."

Maine's governor, Paul LePage, is an unrepentant inflamed, bloody asshole. He is probably insane, certainly incompetent, and folksy and down-to-earth and tell-it-like-it-is enough to get elected because, in this stupid country, braying assholishness is seen as courage, howling insanity is seen as likeability, and head-smashing idiocy is seen as wisdom. Reward the goon-looking motherfucker who has all three with reelection.

So not only has LePage vetoed multiple times the state legislature's attempt to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a veto upheld by the same legislature, but prior to that he cut MaineCare (as the Medicaid program is called there) by nearly 70,000 participants by lowering the income eligibility threshold and by other conservative fuckery. This was back in 2011, when the rats and lice in the legislature voted to support LePage's cuts. He had tried to boot 19 and 20 year olds off it, but the Department of Health and Human Services in DC told him to stop being such a cunt about it because the federal government considers people under 21 to be minors when it comes to this kind of shit. He tried to sue the HHS, but the U.S. Supreme Court shut that down. Yeah, this fucker can't go to jail soon enough.

Whether or not Maine will do anything about the heroin epidemic there, one that has hit many places thanks to cheap supply and worthless drug policies, people like Singer and David McCarthy will keep falling through the man-made cracks in our society. Conservatives like to talk about Christian love, but they know shit about loving. A compassionate state or nation or politician wouldn't just talk about doing things to help the addicted and the mentally ill. It would do something. Now, we do not. We sit on the sides and bemoan the fate of people, many of whom could be helped, many of whom, like Coleen, wanted to be helped.

Coleen Singer was in the Bangor Daily News seven months ago. She had been arrested, along with three men, for possession. She was in the paper in 2009, arrested for prostitution, which her ex-husband says she turned to in order to fund her habit. There is also news about her arrest in 2014 for the same. Between 2009 and 2014, you can see her mugshots tracing her fall, deeper and deeper, into...well, into something.

Instead of posting those pictures, here's one from her ex of just a woman on a beach posing for a camera.

The beaches of Maine are lovely, but the water is so very cold.
31 Jul 21:53

Carsten Höller Wraps World’s Longest Slide Around Anish’s Kapoor’s London Tower

by Claire Voon
Anish Kapoor, "ArcelorMittal Orbit" (2012) (photo via Wikipedia)

Anish Kapoor, “ArcelorMittal Orbit” (2012) (photo via Wikipedia)

This week, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London announced that “the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide” will wrap around Anish Kapoor’s “ArcelorMittal Orbit.” When the sculpture went up in 2009 after winning a design challenge, it proceeded to receive mostly scathing reviews — and a spot on the shortlist of the 2012 Carbuncle Cup, awarded to the ugliest building in the UK completed that year. Today, Kapoor revealed that the slide is actually a work of art, designed by none other than Carsten Höller at Kapoor’s own invitation. What better way to make people find delight in something that resembles “twisted spaghetti,” “horrific squiggles,” and “Meccano on crack” than to wrap it in a recreational ride that is both thrilling and reminiscent of the joys of childhood?

Curiously, the slide’s fun factor overshadowed its status as a sculpture by a major contemporary artist when the Park announced its impending installation next spring, which seems like a pretty huge PR fail. Instead, the 164-foot twisting tunnel was presented as a new accessory to jazz up Kapoor’s tower — which it will circle five times — with no mention of Höller at all.

“What more exciting way to descend the ‘ArcelorMittal Orbit’ than on the world’s longest and tallest slide?” the Park’s Director of Visitor Services Peter Tudor said. “This slide will give a different perspective of Britain’s tallest sculpture. We are committed to ensuring our visitors have the best possible day out every time they visit.”

Still, when the news broke, no one seemed to suspect that Höller was behind it, which at this point should really be the default assumption: the German artist has already planted giant slides on a couple of sites, from his 2014 slide tower on the Vitra Campus in his home country to his “Isomeric Slides” in his current exhibition at the Hayward gallery (previously at Tate Modern).

Sorry for the oversight, Carsten! Here’s hoping your sculptural chute will succeed in elevating garbage to grand design.

31 Jul 22:45

A Music Festival for the Underrepresented in Detroit

by Sarah Rose Sharp
Primitiv Parts on the Mountain Stage, featuring a duo of female drummers.

‘Primitiv Parts’ on the Mountain Stage, featuring a duo of female drummers (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

DETROIT — Within media culture, male-dominated environments are presented as the norm, despite the fact that men only comprise roughly half the population. Perhaps this is why, as I sat in on an organizational meeting with the Seraphine Collective — a Detroit-based, all-female cooperative that promotes female-identified, LBGTQ, and racially diverse musicians — I could not help but speculate about the ways it was different from analogous male-driven ventures.

The meeting largely focused on last-minute details for BFF (Best Fest Forever) Fest, Seraphine’s second annual music festival and biggest fundraiser at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). I quietly congratulated myself on being in a room full of rocker girls — the satisfying payoff to a childhood spent curating awkward stylistic tributes to Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, and Cyndi Lauper. The rocker girls in question are at the core of the Seraphine Collective, founded in 2014 by Lauren Rossi, with the mission to act “primarily as a platform for underrepresented musicians.”

What constitutes underrepresented? Rossi provided me with a few disheartening statistics: Spin’s 2012 “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” included only nine women; Rolling Stone Magazine‘s “100 Greatest Vocalists of All Time” lists merely 20 women. Only 8.5% of people inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are women. Out of all the people producing and engineering audio, only 5% are women.

Since its inception in March of 2014, Seraphine Collective has presented 20 shows, hosted an annual music festival, and released three mixtapes collectively featuring more than 70 bands and 100 female musicians.


Seraphine Collective

Even on a local level, the 2014 Metrotimes Blowout — one of Detroit’s major music festivals — included 86.9% male musicians and 13.1% female musicians. By contrast, BFF Fest 2014 had 63% female musicians and 37% male musicians, and this year’s BFF Fest raised the bar to 78% female musicians and 22% male musicians.

“We try to plan a festival that we are all excited about and want to attend,” said Rossi. The entire fest is, in her words, “a collaborative project,” and that spirit was reflected in the organizational meeting, with ladies dividing promotional tasks and stacks of posters to distribute, while exchanging contacts from their networks with fluid ease.

On the day of the festival, MOCAD hummed with Seraphine members in the midst of preparation and celebration. I snagged Jen David, a classically-trained, polymath musician and collective member who played at BFF Fest last year, and in the interest of fairness, relegated herself to an organizational role this year. She thinks that visibility is always a problem, and on top of the existing hierarchy that regularly dismisses female musicians, there is a problem of limitations that women place on themselves in the scene. “When I started playing music, I wanted to be tough and pretend like I didn’t know anything,” she said, “but it’s okay not to know things, and make connections that teach you things.”

Erin Norris, a Seraphine member who plays guitar in the band Casual Sweetheart with Lauren Rossi (bass) and Dina Bankole (drums), agreed. “The most important thing is to stay true to our mission, which is to inform and educate people about female-identified musicians and carry that with them after the festival.” In this way, BFF Fest is not just a show, but a connective hub for female performers in the area, and on a national level. Multiple collective members emphasize their pride in seeing bands that have met at Seraphine shows and subsequently go on tours together — a ripple effect that has an unlimited range.

BFF 2015’s line-up was tight, including experimental electronic musician Viki Victoria , the ethereal and cosmic River Spirit, the minimal bassist and singer Sneaks (visiting from Washington, D.C.), and Electric Wiccans, the plugged-in version of a popular Detroit acoustic duo. Everyone was collectively geeked about headliner R-Ring, from Dayton, Ohio, featuring The Breeders’s Kelley Deal. “We have a Deal! We have a Deal at our festival!” enthuses Norris, laughing.


Rachel Thompson of Seraphine Collective

How does this measure up against male-dominated/organized music festivals? Collective member Shelley Salant, who plays bass in Detroit-favorite Rebel Kind, has a wealth of experience as an independent booker for a number of local venues. “I privately made the decision to have a woman in every show,” she said of her pre-Seraphine booking style. “I didn’t talk about it, because I didn’t want people to give me shit about it, but now I talk about it a lot more. Otherwise people just don’t think about it.” David, too, recounted surprising pushback when trying to be more inclusive from people she had previously considered allies.

Dina Bankole can relate to that, as well as the power of having trailblazers and role models. “It’s rare these days that I’m the only woman in a situation, but I still find myself being the only person of color,” she said. “Just seeing somebody doing the thing you’re interested in is encouraging. It makes me feel more comfortable.”

“This [BFF Fest] has a different feel because it exemplifies Seraphine,” said collective member and legal representative Linda Jordan. She’s been involved in the planning of Mittenfest for the last few years, pushing a female-inclusive agenda on that front, as well as drawing inspiration from her participation in Seraphine to start her own band, Best Exes.

Flushed, opening the BFF Fest.

‘Flushed,’ opening the BFF Fest

Musician, organizer, and MOCAD employee Augusta Morrison summed up the goal of BFF Fest thusly: “People hear new music, express themselves, meet new people — and see that a DIY music festival is possible, what it can be.” Certainly, BFF Fest has its own style, which this year included a series of rotating performances at the “Mountain Stage” and “Valley Stage” — with DIY graphics as backdrops suggestive of the female anatomy, which only occurred to the organizers on the day of the fest, triggering a full dissolve into giggles. Certainly, I’ve never been to a concert that featured a free clothing swap. “Clothes might seem insignificant,” says David, “but it’s a way to express yourself.” Additionally, there is an activism row, with organizations like My Sistahs Keeper, Alternatives for Girls (who received $1.00 from every $10.00 festival ticket sold), and Ladyparts Justice that tabled along the entryway. Seraphine member Rachel Thompson is the resident chair of activism, as the only non-musician in the group, and greeted me by chucking a package containing condoms, lube, and HIV-prevention info in my direction.

“When I was in grad school, all I did was write about how music and the arts can benefit people,” she said. “People are always trying to separate these two things [music and activism] that are the same.” She, too, embraces Seraphine’s power to bring people together through music and encourage them to organize events. “If you bring women together,” she said, “you will eventually connect to everyone.”

BFF (Best Fest Forever) Fest took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit) on July 25. 

30 Jul 04:19

danisntonfleek: aphromanito: my friend told me that i need to stop singing i’m a believer because...



my friend told me that i need to stop singing i’m a believer because it was getting annoying and i laughed because i thought she was kidding

but then i saw her face


29 Jul 14:07

Billy Corgan addresses his trip to Disneyland: “What the fuck do you want from me?” | Consequence of Sound

by OnlyMrGodKnowsWhy
30 Jul 16:13

“It’s a difficult time to be a socialist. The left has...

“It’s a difficult time to be a socialist. The left has been depleted everywhere else, but in Pakistan it’s been decimated. I belong to an organization called the Awami Worker’s Party, and right now is a crucial moment for us. We are trying to resist slum evictions in Islamabad. There is no affordable housing in the city, so servants and laborers huddle together in informal settlements called kachi abadis, which have no water or electricity. Recently, the Islamabad high court has issued an eviction notice, and the land is being sold out beneath them. They are defending their actions by saying that terrorists hide in the slums. Right now an operation is underway to remove the slum inhabitants by force.”

(Hunza Valley, Pakistan)

31 Jul 12:43

misanthropicweirdo: more booze


more booze

31 Jul 06:21

Petition: We call on the Amnesty International Council to stand firm and support decriminalisation of sex work and protect the human rights of sex workers