"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites."-- War is Betrayal. Persistent Myths of Combat, an essay by Chris Hedges of Truthdig. Responses within. [more inside]
Too much information: Our instincts for privacy evolved in tribal societies where walls didn't exist. No wonder we are hopeless oversharers. [Via]
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: The Opt-Out Generation. In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended. It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.
The Organist is an arts and culture podcast [iTunes link] from The Believer Magazine and the Californian public radio station KCRW. Each episode is generally a mix of interviews, essays and music. Among the contributors so far have been Nick Offerman, Rachel Kushner, Jonathan Coulton and Matmos. Each podcast begins with a short dramatic monologue, for example episode three starts with Sarah Silverman talking about her pet owl, in a piece written by Alena Smith (Conan O'Brien has another dramatic monologue in the same episode). There have been six episodes so far and they are all worth a listen.
Of the many available documentaries about the pianist Glenn Gould, "Genius within - The inner life of Glenn Gould" is one of the more thoughtful ones. [more inside]
A frightening and violent mob swept through the normally quiet seaside community of Huntington Beach last night following a surfing competition in the area. Businesses were vandalized and looted, portable toilets overturned, and brutal fistfights waged right out in the open. It was an ugly display and a sad day for California. But more than that, it was a reminder that we must begin to seriously consider the values of our thuggish white youth.
(Oddly enough, do make sure to read the comments, they're amazing.)
[NSFW] "Ask First! was written by J. Mary Burnet & Kaleigh Trace in response to Robin Thicke's gross, unconsensual song and video Blurred Lines... We don't want to have to listen to Robin Thicke tell us he knows we want it over such a damn catchy beat. We wanna dance to music that's sexy and radical." [more inside]
Reflecting upon 14 years of blogging and observing internet communities, Anil Dash proposes 10 Rules of the Internet, based upon the lessons that he learned during that time. (via ★interesting; anildash previously on Metafilter)
"It's his charm. It's his gift. It's his political liability, and it's part of an American conundrum. We beg for authenticity, and then when we get it, oh man, it's hilarious. [Vice President Joe] Biden can be fantastic when he's on his game. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his speech got higher Nielsen ratings than either Bill Clinton's or Obama's. He killed the debate against Ryan, pumped air back into a campaign deflated after Obama's miserable first performance against Romney. Watching those performances, it's almost impossible to see him as a person once crippled by speech."
Five Reasons Why I Am Not An “Artist”, an essay by Tom Ellard (formerly of 1980s industrial electropop band Severed Heads and now an academic and media art practitioner in Australia; previously), touching on areas such as artificial divisions between art and technical practice, the politics of the role of the artist and the conflict between creative exploration and artistic recognition and success.
"In life, things happen twice if you're lucky. There's the father you get and the father you choose." [more inside]
How development leads to cultural change, and not the other way around. Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang shatters stereotypes, showing how common descriptions of the Germans, Koreans and Japanese right before their nations' intensive economic development mirrors current slurs against workers from African and Latin American countries today.
The Other Redskins. 62 US high schools in 22 states currently use the name "Redskins" for one of their sports teams. 28 high schools in 18 states have dropped the mascot over the last 25 years. As public pressure continues to intensify on the Washington Redskins football team to change their name -- one many consider a racial slur that disparages Native Americans -- similar debates are being waged in towns across the country about their local high school teams.
The Memory of the Netherlands is an image library making available the online collections of museums, archives and libraries. The library provides access to images from the collections of more than one hundred institutions and includes photographs, sculptures, paintings, bronzes, pottery, modern art, drawings, stamps, posters and newspaper clippings. In addition there are also video and sound recordings to see and listen to. The Memory of the Netherlands offers an historic overview of images from exceptional collections, organized by subject to provide easy accessSearch 833928 objects from 133 collections from 100 institutions.
The Test Shot is an online visual project that aims to document and celebrate the variety and strength of transmasculine style. Ballet dancing "princess boys", dapper transmen fresh out of a golden age musical, hipstery trans* boys, preppy boy dykes, and video journalists in traditional Pakistani menswear showcase the diversity in how people interpret and express their gender through their favorite clothing. Original Plumbing [warning: non-explicit ad for porn site] is the premier print magazine dedicated to the sexuality and culture of FTM trans guys. OP documents diversity within trans male lifestyles through photographic portraits and essays, personal narratives and interviews. Read an interview with the creators, Dr. T's medical advice column, or check out blog entries on living in an all-male dorm,, how to get into queer porn as a trans guy,, and deciding to carry a baby after transition.. [more inside]
"There is no real independent self, aloof from other human beings, inspecting the world, inspecting other people. You are, in fact, connected not just via Facebook and internet, you’re actually quite literally connected by your neurons." — V S Ramachandran
"I lived in a hut near the summit of Mt. Fuli, the highest mountain in Japan,[more inside]
for five months straight, four years in a row,
for a total of 600 days. Each morning,
I photographed the dawn from the same spot, chasing the ever-changing
drama that unfolded before my eyes.
"I wondered why someone who hates words would take the trouble to arrange so many of them in a row." The Millions reviews Tao Lin's new novelty.
"Fabiola has been a beloved subject for countless painters, most of them amateurs. The portrait’s format is almost always the same: Fabiola is seen in profile facing left, her head covered by a rich red veil. Mr. Alÿs, who was born in Belgium in 1959 and moved to Mexico City in 1990, began collecting Fabiola paintings — as the genre is called — about 15 years ago, buying them at thrift shops, flea markets and antiques stores primarily in Mexico and Europe. He has previously shown his collection three times, when it was much smaller; the current presentation includes more than 300 works. Photos of the exhibition
The Essayification of Everything (SLNYT)
Why Australia hates thinkers, an essay on anti-intellectualism in today's Australia and the populist hostility to “intellectual elites”, by Alecia Simmonds.
Many languages have "high" and "low" layers of vocabulary. But in most other languages, the two sets are drawn from the same source. By contrast, contact between Old English and French, Dravidian languages and Sanskrit, Japanese and Chinese, Persian and Arabic, and other pairings around the world have created fascinatingly hybrid languages. These mixed lexicons are, for linguistic and social historians, akin to the layers of fossils that teach paleontologists and archaeologists so much about eras gone by. Some people even think English is descended from Latin, or Kannada from Sanskrit. That’s frustrating not only because it’s wrong, but also because the reality is far more interesting. - The Economist, Unlikely parallels (via)
“Used to steal clothes, was considered a thief/Until I started hustlin’ on Fulton Street.” The mean streets of the borough that rappers like the Notorious B.I.G. crowed about are now hipster havens, where cupcakes and organic kale rule and “Brooklyn” now evokes artisanal cheese rather than rap artists.
How to be German in 20 easy steps; also, from the same author: how to be English. Elsewhere: how to be a really hip German.
How I Became a Hipster (SLNYT)
"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
"Women get flustered under fire. They're too fragile, too emotional. They lack the ferocity required to take a life. They can't handle pain. They're a distraction, a threat to cohesion, a provocative tease to close-quartered men. These are the sort of myths you hear from people who oppose the U.S. military's evolving new rules about women in combat. But for women who have already been in combat, who have earned medals fighting alongside men, the war stories they tell don't sound a thing like myths" [more inside]
"Despite her pedigree, success came slowly," the story bravely ventured. This slowness was maybe not so apparent to several thousand other 24-year-olds who want to be actresses, but who haven't even figured out how to get to a reading for Law & Order to fail at it. Tom Scocca on Nathaniel Rich, Lena Dunham, Zosia Mamet, and cultural nepotism. (Related: How David Carr Became the Daddy of Girls)
Weddings are inherently a form of performance art, and various artists have explored weddings as an artistic form. For example, Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens held a wedding every year for 7 years to various parts of the environment and Maria Yoon held weddings in every US state to explore marriage as an Asian-American woman. Second Life also hosted a performance art wedding while Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis incorporated their House of Fairytales project into their own wedding. Kathryn Cornelius married and divorced seven suitors every hour on the hour while Chen Wei-yih opted to marry herself.
For WIRED magazine's 20th anniversary, they've "gathered stories for, by, and about the people who have shaped the planet's past 20 years—and will continue driving the next."
Memphis-based photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero has long been aware of strangers making fun of her behind her back due to her size. So aware, in fact, that she has turned the whole concept into a full-blown photography project. Titled Wait Watchers, the series consists of Morris-Cafiero’s self-portraits in public in which strangers can be seen in the background giving her strange looks and/or laughing. More photos at her website.
In the late '80s, documentarians Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker spent six months in Tokyo looking at how symbols and imagery familiar to Americans had been appropriated and given new significance in Japan. Though more than 20 years old, the resulting video remains popular in undergraduate courses across the social sciences and humanities in part because it's so entertaining. [more inside]
The Trans 100 is a list curated by We Happy Trans based on nominations of 100 key trans people breaking ground in American culture, arts, social justice, and politics. [more inside]
Does anyone here speak art and tech? "Indeed, for a certain sort of hoodie-wearing entrepreneur more keen on trips to Tahoe than the Tate, the rules of the art world can seem especially opaque." No, they are two different cultures. "The traditional art world appears to be recognizing that it is going to need to collect some of this money to continue operating in the manner it has grown accustomed to. What it doesn’t seem to recognize is that it may be selling the wrong thing, a brand of social status that the technology culture is not interested in buying."
Is Psychometric g a Myth? - "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g." [more inside]
Two of our finest authors, humanist and government critic, Iain [M] Banks is dying of cancer. His next novel will be his last. His books are a source of inspiration and joy for me and many other mefites.
Mining books to map emotions through a century. Emotion words aren't consistently used through time, it seems. Things got scary in the 80's.
The county where no one's gay. The 2010 Census of Franklin County Mississippi shows no same sex couples. (pdf). CNN videographer Brandon Ancil and human rights columnist John D. Sutter tried to determine if the census was wrong, and see if they could find gay men and women willing to speak about "what keeps them hidden." Video
The Bacon-Wrapped Economy, or how the rise of a new elite of wealthy, predominantly twentysomething, software engineers and startup founders is changing the San Francisco Bay Area's economy and culture. [more inside]
The Great Hog-Eating Confederacy
Early Southerners ate a rather limited and unvarying diet. At table the famished guest seldom found more than bacon, corn pone, and coffee sweetened with molasses. Pioneering sociologist Harriet Martineau complained that “little else than pork, under all manner of disguises” sustained her during her visit to the American SouthFor the most part, slaves observed the same diet as poor white farmers. Though many kept gardens, and thus supplemented their rations of pork and corn with a wide variety of vegetables, they had otherwise little opportunity to augment their diet.. Another traveler griped that that he had “never fallen in with any cooking so villainous.” A steady assault of “rusty salt pork, boiled or fried … and musty corn meal dodgers” brought his stomach to surrender. Rarely did “a vegetable of any description” make it on his plate, and “no milk, butter, eggs, or the semblance of a condiment” did he once see.Christine Baumgarthuber is a writer for The New Inquiry and runs the blog The Austerity Kitchen. [more inside]
Leaving the Witness. "In one of the most restrictive, totalitarian countries in the world, for the first time in my life, I had the freedom to think." [more inside]
seaQuest: what if we could learn to live on/underneath the oceans (or in orbit)? [previously(er)] [more inside]
'Feminism' has often been seen as a Western concept, but African women are increasingly redefining it to suit their own purposes. This, in turn, is influencing the rest of the world.
Suffice it to say, Persepolis is quite a work. It’s a testament to the power of the graphic novel. The art’s simple linework helps the story feel unpretentious and direct. Persepolis was adapted as a 2007 French animated film, written and directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. Among other honors, it was nominated for an Academy Award. Why would someone want to ban such a book?
Men in Saris: Mumbai's new lavani dancers Lavani is a folk dance, traditionally performed by women for men. The popularity of Bin Baykancha Tamasha (or Performance Without Women) and other female-impersonation groups in Mumbai suggests that the city may slowly be getting comfortable with flamboyant expressions of male sexuality.