30 March 2012

Palahniuk Tattoo of the Day

Rage funk

Yeah. Normally, I pride myself on maintaining a reasonably even presentation - sometimes an unreasonably even presentation. I've had two people in the past week mention that it's impossible to read my face, but I always look like I'm listening and have something intelligent to add.

One professor told me that I'd be a perfect straight man. I'm pretty sure she meant that in the comedic sense.

Today, I'm having some difficulty with that. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed - or would have, if I had a bed (I sleep on a mat on the floor of my room). Found myself immediately and unreasonably pissed off, to such an extent that I debated not coming in to school. Eventually did, since I've got office hours.

Know that I've got things to read - stacks and stacks of essays and books - there's always more to work on - but didn't feel like doing any of it.

So I logged on to the internet, and, immediately, what do I find?

- NY cyclist killed by flatbed truck that made illegal turn; pigs say cyclist was at fault, refuse to release information.

- NY cop accidentally discharges weapon, shoots Japanese tourist sleeping on couch.
One of the officers had his badge in one hand and gun in the other as he entered the apartment, and police said his gun accidentally fired. The bullet went through the floor below, grazing a 25-year-old woman in her arm as she slept in her living room, said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne.
- White supremacist (screenname klanklannon) hacks Trayvon Martin's emails and Facebook account, changes passwords to "niggerniggernigger" and "coontrayvonnigger"

- Columbia Journalism Review confirms that, as I suggested in my last post, the fake pictures that are being used to attack Trayvon Martin's character did in fact originate at Stormfront.

- Police video shows an apparently uninjured (i.e. not bleeding from the back of his head, not apparently having any trouble breathing with a closed mouth as one would expect if he'd had a broken nose) George Zimmerman.

- Hospital says Anna Brown is drug seeker, has her arrested; she dies on the floor of a police cell.
When Brown, 29, refused to leave the emergency room at St. Mary’s Health Center in Richmond Heights, Mo., a suburb near inner St. Louis, the police thought she was on drugs and arrested her for trespassing. She’d already been examined, and a doctor said she was healthy enough to go to jail.

The police carried her into a jail cell by her arms and ankles, her body slackened. There were a couple of beds in the cell, but they left her on the concrete floor. A couple of officers stood by the door as she writhed and moaned, and then they walked away. “They thought she was a drug seeker,” an officer said later.

She had stopped moving within 15 minutes and was pronounced dead a short time later.
Just... uggh. Hopefully things get better as the day goes along, because this isn't what you might call the best morning I've had.

Music, one more pretty thing post, and I'm out for the weekend. Peace.

Young Romance 124 of the Day

27 March 2012

Trayvon Martin Flips Off Camera - Source?

So in my last post, I cited the fake pictures of Trayvon Martin flipping off a camera as coming from conservative blogger and author Michelle Malkin's website Twitchy.com.

It turns out that I may - and I can't be entirely sure yet - need to do as Malkin did and issue a correction. Although I'll do it in a slightly more straightforward way (i.e. not hiding it under the still-posted disproven picture in an area that can't be seen unless the article is actually opened).

I may have misidentified the original source of the picture. While Malkin's website definitely posted the picture, it's possible that whoever posted it there just stole it from neo-Nazi site Stormfront.org.

I'm going to say that again: either Malkin's site posted the fake picture and then the neo-Nazis liked it enough to repost it, or the neo-Nazis posted it, and then Malkin's site took it, altered it slightly, and threw it up on the web without context and without even rudimentary fact-checking.

A Stormfront thread, titled "Facebook picture of little angel Trayvon Martin", that was created at 2:29 AM on March 24th, features the fake picture of Trayvon Martin as the first post. The poster on Malkin's website was uploaded "three days ago" - which puts it, I think, slightly after the Stormfront post.

Blogger CarolynCastiglia was, I think, the first person to make the Stormfront connection, in an excellent post titled Let’s Remove Race from the Case: Why George Zimmerman Should Be Arrested Regardless -
Suffice it to say, the discussion surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting is racially charged, even if the incident itself wasn’t. I personally find the latter assertion quite hard to believe, given that it’s likely Zimmerman uttered a racial slur during his 911 call and that as protesters have pointed out, it’s highly unlikely that a white teen in a hoodie would have looked as “suspicious” as Martin did to Zimmerman. Additionally, it’s hard for me to swallow that those who allegedly want to remove race from the equation are the same people who create images like those to the left, which try even harder to paint Trayvon as a black thug who deserved to die – especially given the fact that the photo on the bottom right of this composite is not actually of Trayvon Martin. It’s the fabrication of racist website Stormfront.

Yeah. So, the point is, once again - this picture:

Is a fake, in that it's been proven to be a picture of a different person. The new thing that this post is adding: it's a fake possibly created by neo-Nazis.

In other news, New Orleans PD officer and possible murderer Jason Giroir has been suspended after he posted comments on a story about Trayvon Martin - the first saying "Act like a Thug Die like one!" and the second, in response to another commenter disagreeing with him, saying "Eddie come on down to our town with a ‘Hoodie’ and you can join Martin in HELL and talk about your racist stories!:-P" [Sic] in general. Way to go, Jason. I think the little emoticon at the end really makes your point clear.

More on Trayvon Martin

First off, there's a lot else going on right now - like the case of Rekia Boyd (unarmed woman shot in the head by an off-duty cop who was aiming at somebody else), or the (even more disturbing) case of Shaima Alawadi, a San Diego woman who was found beaten to death in her home next to a note that said "go back to your country."

Note: the article linked to from Alawadi's name, from ABC, says that police "suspect a hate crime." Ya think?

But I just wanted to throw out a couple of quick links on the Trayvon Martin stuff this morning, if only because I suspect that many of y'all (especially my East Coast readers) are getting weird information.

For example. You may have seen this picture floating around. I have (albeit only from my Republican friends from undergrad). A couple of versions that I've run across:

...which is all great, and good job pointing out the media bias, except for two things. First, as WTSP (Channel 10 if you're in Tampa) and, uh, the website that originally posted the image have pointed out (one in an article, one in a correction), the person flipping off the camera isn't the same Trayvon Martin that George Zimmerman shot.

Just gonna say that again, to draw emphasis: that's not the same person who got shot. Oops, I guess?

Second, as this excellent article from Salon points out, it really doesn't matter all that much anyway - as Zimmerman isn't, in the end, the major player that needs to be questioned. The conduct of the Sanford police, throughout this whole thing, has been despicable, and, what's more troubling, despicable in a predictable way:

If Zimmerman was indeed hurt in a scuffle with Martin – and news reports suggest he was bloody and bruised, with head lacerations that came from Martin pounding his skull into the sidewalk – why are there no photos? Why wasn’t Zimmerman taken to a hospital? The fact remains: An unarmed teenager was shot dead, and the man who shot him faced no rigorous interrogation. Can anyone believe that if the circumstances were reversed, and the young black man was the shooter, he’d have walked away without at minimum a meticulous collection of evidence? It’s hard to imagine he’d have walked away at all. The police were entirely too quick to believe Zimmerman had to shoot the boy in self-defense.


The fact is, whatever turns out to be true, the president was right: This case looks like too many others where a young black man was gunned down for being a young black man. A 17-year-old was shot to death, and no one was taken to a police station to be questioned about it. It then took police three days to locate the dead boy’s family. Now they’re sliming him with anonymous leaks.

Whether or not Martin was wearing a hoodie, or had ever used marijuana; whether or not he and Zimmerman had an altercation that night: at minimum, the cops botched this investigation, and didn’t do anything like what should have been required in a case when an unarmed 17-year-old shows up dead. That’s the bottom line here. Trayvon Martin didn’t have to be a polo-and-khakis-wearing Boy Scout to have his rights respected. Did some of his family’s defenders go too far in depicting him as a fresh-faced child, as some on the right allege? We don’t know that. We only know that the family and their many supporters have cobbled together a movement to demand justice, and they’ve used the facts they had at their disposal. Had the cops done their job, they wouldn’t have had to.

I want to point out, lastly, that Zimmerman's self-defense case, even if Martin did punch him or confront him, is, even given Florida's absurdly lax laws, weak at best. From the guy who sponsored the law, former State Senator Durell Peaden, as quoted by CBS News:

"He has no protection under my law," former Sen. Durell Peaden told the newspaper.


Zimmerman, 28, reportedly admitted to police that he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on the evening of February 26. He was released without being charged after claiming he killed the boy in self-defense. But 911 recordings released over the weekend suggest that Zimmerman, who has a concealed weapons permit and volunteered in an apparently informal neighborhood watch program, pursued Martin, despite being told police were on their way.

It is the fact that Zimmerman ignored the 911 operator's advice not to follow Martin that former Sen. Peaden says disqualifies him from claiming self-defense under the law.

"The guy lost his defense right then," Peaden told the Miami Herald. "When he said 'I'm following him,' he lost his defense."

Just to clarify: if you get out of your car to chase somebody, especially after the police tell you not to, you're going to have a hard time portraying yourself as an innocent victim.

25 March 2012

Why Don't Young Americans Buy Cars?

Note to writers: kids these days are generally suspicious of any article that starts out "kids these days." Like, for example, an article asking why young Americans aren't buying cars.

I'm tempted to go off on the language in the article - like the passage that calls buying cars "extremely adult investments -- exactly the type twenty-somethings tend to shy from now." Or the passage that says we consider cars "the sorts of attractive toys that can compete with smart phones and tablets in the Millennial consciousness."

But, in a more generous spirit, the article makes a good point about why Ford, GM, and other American car companies might be struggling: people of my generation, partially because we're broke relative to the older folks, partially because we don't aspire to the suburban doldrums we were taught to perceive as the capstone of the American Dream, aren't the same market that the last few generations were, and can't be marketed to in the same way. Perhaps, in terms of big old monstrosities that sold cars to our parents, we can't be "marketed" to at all:
Actively catering to the Millennials has proved tricky in the past, as Toyota learned with its Scion brand. The Scions were inexpensive, edgy-looking, and easily customizable. They promoted them at indie-rock concerts and with artist tie-ins. And their sales fell to 49,000 in 2011, from 173,000 five years earlier. Moreover, many owners were actually cost-conscious baby boomers who liked the cars' youthful halo.

Perhaps GM will have more luck. But if city living and the economy persuade Millennials to embrace a car-free lifestyle long-term, chances are that a lemonade- or denim-colored paint job won't change their mind.

Tear Down This Wall of the Day

23 March 2012

Geraldo in a Hoodie

"I am urging the parents of black and Latino particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was. When you see a kid walking down the street, particularly a dark-skinned kid like my son Cruz, who I constantly yelled at when he was going out wearing a damn hoodie with those pants around his ankles, take that hood off, people look at you and they, what do they think? What's the instant identification? What's the instant association? It's those crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-11, the kid's wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera, or they get the old lady in the alcove, it's a kid wearing a hoodie. You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a "gangsta," you're going to be a gangsta wannabe, people are going to perceive you as a menace!"

Hoodies are the problem?


Certainly, Geraldo. You're a gangsta wannabe. Should I shoot you? If your kid goes out dressed like you, should I shoot him? Your logic sucks, dude.

Short-Haired Portman of the Day

22 March 2012

Beyond the Pleasure Principle

"What is pain for?" she murmured after a time. "Do you ever think about that, Jacen Solo? What is its function? Many of our more devout masters believe that pain is the lash of the True Gods: that suffering is how the True Gods teach us to disdain comfort, our bodies, even life itself. For myself, I say that pain itself is a god: the taskmaster of life. Pain cracks the whip, and all that lives will move. The most basic instinct of life is to retreat from pain. To hide from it. If going here hurts, even a granite slug will go over there; to live is to be a slave to pain.

To be 'beyond pain' is to be dead, yes?"

"Not for me," Jacen answered dully, once his throat opened enough that he could speak. "No matter how dead you say I am, it still hurts."

"Oh, well, yes. That the dead are beyond pain is only an article of faith, isn't it? We should say, we hope that the dead are beyond pain - but there's only one way to find out for sure."

She blinked at him, smiling. "Do you think that pain might be the ruling principle of death, as well?"

"I don't think anything. I just want it to stop."

She turned away, making an odd snuffling sound; for half a moment Jacen wondered if his suffering might have finally touched her somehow - wondered if she might take pity on him...

But when she turned back, her eyes were alight with mockery, not compassion.

"I am such a fool," she chimed. "All this time, I had thought I was speaking to an adult. Ah, self-deception is the cruelest trick of all, isn't it? I let myself believe that you had once been a true Jedi, when in truth you are only a hatchling, shivering in the nest, squalling because your mother hasn't fluttered up to feed you."

"You...you..." Jacen stammered. "How can you... after what you've done..."

"What I have done? Oh, no no no, little Solo child. This is about what you have done."

"I haven't done anything!"

Vergere settled back against the chamber's wall a meter away. Slowly, she folded her back-bent knees beneath her, then laced her fingers together in front of her delicately whiskered mouth and stared at him over her knuckles.

After a long, long silence, during which I haven't done anything! echoed in his mind until Jacen's face burned, Vergere said,


She leaned close, as though to share an embarrassing secret. "Is that not the infant's tactic? To wail, and wail, and wail, to wriggle its fingers and kick its heels... hoping an adult will notice, and care for it?"

Jacen lowered his head, struggling against sudden hot tears. "What can I do?" She sat back again and made more of that snuffling noise. "Certainly, among your options is continuing to hang in this room and suffer. And so long as you do that, do you know what will happen?"

Jacen gave her a bruised look. "What?"

"Nothing," she said cheerfully. She spread her hands. "Oh, eventually, you'll go mad, I suppose. If you're lucky. Someday you may even die."

Her crest flattened back and became blasterbore grey. "Of old age."

Punk With Dog of the Day

21 March 2012

Garth Haynes Gets Off

Yet another "special" case from the SPD - although this one at least made it to a jury (no thanks to the police report, or lack thereof) before it got dropped.

In this case, SPD Officer Garth Haynes, while off-duty but carrying his service weapon, went into a nightclub, got drunk, and got into a fight. At some point, other cops got called, and one of the people Haynes was fighting with wound up lying on the ground in handcuffs. Shortly thereafter, Haynes was videotaped kicking the guy in the head.

None of this is in dispute.


And yet Haynes didn't wind up in the police report of the incident.

And yet Haynes' defense - the oh-so-original "I don't remember" - was apparently strong enough to get him off.

Because saying that you don't remember doing something that, oh yeah, you were filmed doing, is enough for reasonable doubt. That makes sense.

Wait... It doesn't, unless you're a cop. Welcome to Seattle.

Polydactyly of the Day

20 March 2012

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

All the way to Grandma's house
I stayed on the narrow path
But my brother wandered off
Deep into the woods.

Bitten twice by rattlesnakes
Tangled up in poison oak
He fell down and broke his legs
Into a great ravine.

When I arrived at Grandma's house
She had made us tea and cake
She asked me where my brother was
I said, "I don't know", and ate.

When I get to heaven
I'll be greeted warmly
Surrounded by the angels
As Jesus takes my hand.

I'll receive a mansion
On the River Jordan
And a crown of diamonds
For a race well run.

I won't ever lock my doors
I will trust my neighbors
Confident that they deserve
To be there in Heaven, too.

Tattoo Shirt of the Day

19 March 2012

Brian Viglione / Amanda Palmer - Post-Work video binge

Monday night, spring break, left the office a few minutes ago and now I'm binging out on Dresden Dolls and/or Amanda Palmer (Amanda Fucking Palmer to her fans) performance videos before I begin finishing up my move to my new apartment.

Just to clarify: it's spring break, so I went to the office at 6:30 this morning, and, other than two hours in the gym (45 minutes on an exercise bike, 30 minutes of lifting, and 45 minutes shooting baskets in an empty gym), I was in the office until 7 PM. Hurrah for the life of a grad student, where "break" means "time to work on your own stuff, rather than teaching and grading."

Just to clarify, part two: this'll be five apartments (and two offices) in three years. I've made somewhat a hobby of living sans stuff - a friend who came over a while ago commented on my "Spartan aesthetic" and suggested that it was in keeping with my general demeanor ("unsurprising" was the word that got used) - but I'm about ready to settle a wee bit, I think, so, with luck, and lots of commas, I'll be in this new one for a while. I might even buy a bed.


Or, rather, performance videos, because it's not the clean, pure songs that are interesting me today.

This first one is a wonderful bit of stagecraft... AFP, I think, works a stage (and an audience) as well as anyone I've ever seen. This video is from a New Year's Eve concert that she did with the Boston Pops Orchestra. No, it's not the best performance of Tchaikovsky that I've ever seen (musically, it's not even very good), but it is one of the most enjoyable. If you can sit through the first couple of minutes - or, more precisely, the first 3:15 or so - it becomes worth it real quick.

This second performance is some vintage Dresden Dolls. Focus on the drummer, Brian Viglione, who I think tends to get underrated a bit in the maelstrom of attention that has followed AFP since her time in the group. Dude's absolutely going HAM here, and it's always fun to see a drummer just Go Off. Weird camera effects (thanks, MTV!) not withstanding.

All y'all have a good night!

Cycling Scuba Santa of the Day

18 March 2012

The Toot Variations

Cataloging three other possible variations on this technique:

Panel 2:
"Really? I don't mean to toot my own horn, but hsssh"
Panel 3:
"Pepper spray: worth carrying around your entire life for those few perfect moments."

Panel 2:
"Really? I don't mean to toot my own horn, but if I concentrate hard enough, I can move things."
Panel 3:
"Worth Carrie-ing around your entire life for those few perfect moments."
"P.P.S. I can kill you with my brain"

Panel 2:
"Really? I don't mean to toot my own horn, but http://xkcd.com/33/
Panel 3:
"God dammit."

Fedora of the Day

13 March 2012

First-Years on Grammar and Editing

The following four quotes are from reflections I had my students write as part of their final portfolios for their expository writing class. The assignment says to "critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your own writing." Most of my students - including some of the ones quoted here - did a very good job with that task. A few did magnificently. It's always funny, though, when you ask people to talk about the strengths of their writing - because stuff like this happens:

"Editing papers was one of my strengths, during the first writing processes I would tend to have bad grammar and sentence flow."

"I have good grammar and punctuations, as well proper MLA citations and formatting. I know in the major essay 2 you commented on how I went down to 0.7 margins on the bottom, but that is because if it was 1 inch it becomes too big."

"Through out this assignment and all of the rest I feel like I have done a good job with the fourth outcome, it comes natural to me to want to look over my work and make sure that I don’t sound like an idiot because of bad grammar."

"Obviously, I am not perfect in either respect but I have found that I usually receive full credit for grammar and punctuation on all of my essays. Either I am really good at revising my mistakes or my teachers have been oblivious. Hoping that it is not the latter, my correct grammar and punctuation make my essays easier to comprehend."

It should be noted that I'm told not to correct students' grammar unless errors "interfere with reading and understanding the writing" - and that this (pretty dang lax) standard is the only mention of grammar, punctuation, or spelling in the Course Outcomes that the expository writing program focuses on and tells instructors to teach.

Hoo, boy. All y'all have a great night.

Zucotti... er... Tompkins Square Park

From the New York Times:

Amid wailing sirens, glaring emergency lights and floodlit streets glittering with glass shards and other debris, the combatants formed, clashed, retreated and reformed a half-dozen times in what the police and protesters, blaming one another, called a riot. 'The Police Panicked'

Witnesses said protesters and bystanders alike were knocked to the ground, shoved into buildings and doorways and struck repeatedly with nightsticks by helmeted officers, some of whom shouted obscenities. People streaked with blood told of being attacked without provocation by officers.

"The police panicked and were beating up bystanders who had done nothing wrong and were just observing," said Allen Ginsburg, the poet, who lives in the area. He said a houseguest from Kansas was surrounded by six officers during one police charge and was beaten with clubs.

The police, however, said their actions were measured and justified. They said they only cleared the park, as ordered, dispersed people who were blocking the surrounding streets and used their clubs defensively when missiles were hurled at them.

From the New York Times:

Participants said a peaceful night in Tompkins Square became a free-for-all when the police knocked people to the ground and hit them with night sticks. But the police, asserting that they were responding to complaints of noise, said people in the park provoked the confrontation by hitting them with beer bottles. Five officers were treated for injuries, including cuts, a broken finger and torn ligaments, the police said.

Four men were arrested on charges including reckless endangerment and inciting to riot. Several of the participants were also treated for minor injuries, witnesses said.

From the New York Times:

Many questions remain unanswered, and police officials have refused to give more details until Mr. Ward holds a news conference this week.

But a review of nearly four hours of videotapes of the evening, made by a neighborhood resident and not previously seen by reporters or the police, together with accounts from a Times reporter and photographer on the scene and more than a score of witnesses provides new insights into that night. It clearly details cases in which officers wore no badges or hid their badge numbers, clubbed and kicked bystanders for no apparent reason and without arresting them, and streamed through the streets of the East Village in uncontrolled rage.

...and, the year after, from Neil Smith:

As the arena of struggle expanded to fill the Lower East Side, the park remained a contested zone. In the sharpest frost of the winter in December 1988, it hit the headlines again when an evictee froze to death on a park bench. Regular political rallies, speakouts, musical events, and spontaneous happenings secured the park's symbolism at the core of the loose housing, homeless and anti-gentrification coalition in the neighbourhood.

By July 1989, with a heightened police campaign against squatters now underway and meeting less organized resistance, the city felt emboldened enough to begin its own reconquest of Tompkins Square Park. Eleven months to the day after the riot, the main target was the forty to fifty structures comprising several shanty-towns and 'tent cities' in the park: 'the officers with riot equipment sealed off the park while park crews knocked down the shanties with sledgehammers and axes and threw debris, along with food, clothes and other belongings, into three garbage trucks'. More than 400 people, infiltrates by thirty plainclothes police who picked off thirty-one demonstrators for arrest, protested the destruction and eviction. Fearing a more violent response, the city allowed that evictees could sleep in the park as long as they did not construct any kind of shelter.

Any of this sound familiar?

Timewarp Reflection of the Day

12 March 2012

Fran Townsend's Material Support

Quick link to a Salon.com article here for y'all before I get back into my grading (hurrah for finals week, right?).

The article neatly, concisely, and articulately walks readers through the Supreme Court's decision in the 2010 case Holder v. Humanitarian Law, which widened the definition of "material support" of terrorism as a prosecutable offense to include speech in support of groups designated as terrorist if that speech is coordinated with the group in any way.

It then moves to an interview that George W. Bush's former Homeland Security Advisor, Fran Townsend, did with Wolf Blitzer on CNN immediately following the Supreme Court's decision. In the interview, Townsend praises the decision:

TOWNSEND: This is a tremendous win for not only the United States but for the current administration. It’s interesting, Wolf, Elena Kagan the current Supreme Court nominee argued in favor of upholding this law. This is an important tool the government uses to convict those, to charge and convict, potentially convict those who provide money, recruits, propaganda, to terrorist organizations, but are not what we call people who actually blow things up or pull the trigger.

BLITZER: So it’s a major decision, a 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court. If you’re thinking about even voicing support for a terrorist group, don’t do it because the government can come down hard on you and the Supreme Court said the government has every right to do so.

TOWNSEND: It is more than just voicing support, Wolf. It is actually the notion of providing material support, significant material support.

BLITZER: But they’re saying that if material support, they’re defining as expressing support or giving advice or whatever to that organization.

TOWNSEND: That’s right. But it could be technical advice, bomb-building advice, fundraising.

The article then points out that Townsend, along with several others - including Rudy Giuliani, Wesley Clark, John Bolton, and Howard Dean - has been receiving speaking fees from just such an organization, the Iranian dissident group Mojahedin-e Khalq.

When someone asked Townsend about this, she tweeted a sarcastic "happy to c u r such a strong supports of constitution and 1st amendment - freedom of speech and association."

From the article:

How reprehensible is the conduct of Fran Townsend here? Just two years ago, she went on CNN to celebrate a Supreme Court decision that rejected First Amendment claims of free speech and free association in order to rule that anyone — most often Muslims — can be prosecuted under the “material support” statute simply for advocacy for a Terrorist group that is coordinated with the group. And yet, the minute Fran Townsend gets caught doing exactly that — not just out of conviction but also because she’s being paid by that Terrorist group — she suddenly invokes the very same Constitutional rights whose erosions she cheered when it came to the prosecution of others. Now that her own liberty is at stake by virtue of getting caught being on the dole from a Terrorist group, she suddenly insists that the First Amendment allows her to engage in this behavior: exactly the argument that Humanitarian Law rejected, with her gushing approval on CNN (“a tremendous win for not only the United States but for the current administration“; This is an important tool the government uses to convict those . . . who provide [] propaganda, to terrorist organizations”).”

So... that's a fairly significant recounting of the article, but you should go take a look at the whole thing. I've only sketched out some of the juiciness that's in there (there's also a nice little point about why so many of Obama's civil rights abuses - of which Holder v. Humanitarian Law is one - get overlooked, among other points). Glenn Greenwald, as usual, comes up with the goods.

SRAM Robot of the Day

11 March 2012

Grimes - Oblivion

I find that I rather love this track, and, perhaps even more, love the music video that goes along with it.

There's been some nice writing done on the video - these two articles from Pitchfork (one and two) are a good start.

From the first article:

The from-the-crowd setup neatly inverts common notions of spectator and spectacle: Boucher is the venue's star because the camera's trained on her, and half the fun of the video is derived from impromptu "fan" reactions. The clip also features staged scenes with Boucher holding court over a bunch of ripped, shirtless dudes working out and shoving each other around with teenage abandon. The scenes are wildly masculine but, at the same time, there's no doubt who's controlling the action.

From the second:

Here was a song whose plasticity and remove were, for me, a large part of its appeal being used to soundtrack scenes that were down to earth-- literally, in the case of the the motorcycle rally in the stadium-- and visceral. It's also saying something about gender, but it's hard to say exactly what, which is part of what gives the video a peculiar power. Claire Boucher, someone who would appear to identify as an outsider and an artist and possibly even a weirdo, is mixing it up with beefy dudes doing the kinds of things that beefy dudes stereotypically do. But while the men look ridiculous, they don't seem like they're being judged, and another part of what makes the video so fun is that Boucher is enjoying it all along with them. She's meeting them in their world and experiencing what they experience and even enjoying it while remaining completely herself. It's about movement and exploration.

Skull Tattoo of the Day

09 March 2012

The Captains

Just read this short article from the Chicago Sun-Times on William Shatner's documentary "The Captains." The article does a pretty good job of capturing the flavor of the documentary, though its Shatner-centric tone is perhaps a bit fawning for my tastes. Then again, I've always favored DS9 over the other series. I had the pleasure of watching this film a little while ago.

The article calls Shatner's interview with Avery Brooks "somewhat incoherent," and I'd agree. Brooks seems, in the interview, to be operating on a different level (of consciousness?) than Shatner, leaving the first captain scrambling to make the connections that Brooks is unwilling or unable to make. He's... scattered, fluid, impulsive, and clearly taking the interview both more seriously and less seriously than Shatner is. He breaks into laughter several times, he Socratic-methods the hell out of Shatner a couple of times - overall, he's a delight.

The interview with Kate Mulgrew was, I think, my least favorite, in that I found Shatner's questioning almost insulting. The article says that Mulgrew "has the unwavering stare of a woman who expects to be in command"; this leads to some tension, as Shatner pushes at that expectation repeatedly. Mulgrew holds her own, though. She's got a presence to her now, just like she did when she was playing Janeway. It's something to see.

Anyways. This documentary came out last year. If you're a fan of Star Trek, you've probably already seen it; if you're not a fan of Star Trek, you probably don't want to. This is one of those pieces of culture that serves its purpose nicely, but doesn't do a whole lot beyond that. Yeah. Back to work.

Suspension of the Day

07 March 2012

VPN's and probable cause

These are two links to important stories for all you awesome, beautiful, amazing people out there.

First off, a how-to guide for chaining VPNs to let you browse and work anonymously online. In the wake of the FBI taking down 25 Anonymous members (you think you cut the head off? Ask the Vatican how well that's going), this is more important than ever. If you aren't already anonymous online, you should be.

Second, from Flex Your Rights, a list of five reasons you should never consent to a police search. Just to be clear: the cops are not your friends. If you're hip to this, you already know not to consent (although you still might get suckered in by the cops lying to you or threatening you), so this is just backing you up; if you're not, then this might help keep you out of trouble.

Stay safe out there, folks.

05 March 2012


Try telling the boy who’s just had his girlfriend’s name
cut into his arm that there’s slippage between the signifier
and the signified. Or better yet explain to the girl
who watched in the mirror as the tattoo artist stitched
the word for her father’s name (on earth as in heaven)
across her back that words aren’t made of flesh and blood,
that they don’t bite the skin. Language is the animal
we’ve trained to pick up the scent of meaning. It’s why
when the boy hears his father yelling at the door
he sends the dog that he’s kept hungry, that he’s kicked,
then loved, to attack the man, to show him that every word
has a consequence, that language, when used right, hurts.

Pollock in Motion of the Day

02 March 2012

Pluralism is Stupid

The latest evidence for this (admittedly politically charged) statement comes from a Grantland article that ranks the top 12 teams in college basketball right now. The entry on eighth-ranked Marquette yields this gem:

Before it lost to Cincinnati on Wednesday, Marquette was one of the hottest teams in college basketball, and they was in contention for a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament.

Seriously? Before it lost, they was in contention?

Now, I'm poking fun at Mark Titus with this point - I'll (generously?) assume that the grammatical issues his article seems to be having are just a function of a typo or an impending deadline - but there's a broader issue at play here.

The question of whether a team should be referred to with singular or plural pronouns is a dangerous one. Some team names are plural by nature (the Gators, the Huskies, the Boilermakers, the Fighting Artichokes, the Geoducks), while others are singular (The Crimson, the Orange, the Cardinal).

Consistency, as in all most things, is, I suppose, key. Or maybe it isn't. Consistency within a single sentence, though, would be nice.

Sepia Winchester of the Day

Because fanboyism, that's why.