The Evil of Banality
The writer, theorist and academic Mark Fisher recently set up a Facebook page called ‘Boring Dystopia’, and invited the submission of photographs of Britain in the 21st century to illustrate the concept. I’ve already uploaded a few snaps, as manifestations of dullness and decay have long been an interest of mine, particularly the places where the banal and the broken intersect, and the true, terrible, tedious horror of modern life is revealed.[more inside]
Someone is turning the Saved By The Bell Wiki into a thing of beauty. The Onion's AV Club notices that a wiki for Saved by the Bell has been taken over by malevolent, occult forces that communicate in messages of existential despair, as in this quote by Screech: I think we are just insects, we live a bit and then die and that’s the lot. There’s no mercy in things. There’s not even a Great Beyond. There’s nothing. [more inside]
The Trials of Hannah Arendt by Corey Robin [The Nation]
There’s a history to the conflict over Eichmann in Jerusalem, and like all such histories, the changes in how we read and argue about the book tell us as much about ourselves, and our shifting preoccupations and politics, as they do about Eichmann or Arendt. What has remained constant, however, is the wrath and the rage that Eichmann has aroused. Other books are read, reviled, cast off, passed on. Eichmann is different. Its errors and flaws, real and imagined, have not consigned it to the dustbin of history; they are perennially retrieved and held up as evidence of the book’s viciousness and its author’s vice. An “evil book,” the Anti-Defamation League said upon its publication, and so it remains. Friends and enemies, defenders and detractors—all have compared Arendt and her book to a criminal in the dock, her critics to prosecutors set on conviction.[more inside]
John Gray: The Truth About Evil:
Blair made this observation in November 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq, when he invited six experts to Downing Street to brief him on the likely consequences of the war. The experts warned that Iraq was a complicated place, riven by deep communal enmities, which Saddam had dominated for over 35 years. Destroying the regime would leave a vacuum; the country could be shaken by Sunni rebellion and might well descend into civil war. These dangers left the prime minster unmoved. What mattered was Saddam’s moral iniquity. The divided society over which he ruled was irrelevant. Get rid of the tyrant and his regime, and the forces of good would prevail. If Saddam was uniquely evil 12 years ago, we have it on the authority of our leaders that Isis is uniquely evil today. Until it swept into Iraq a few months ago, the jihadist group was just one of several that had benefited from the campaign being waged by western governments and their authoritarian allies in the Gulf in support of the Syrian opposition’s struggle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Since then Isis has been denounced continuously and with increasing intensity; but there has been no change in the ruthless ferocity of the group, which has always practised what a radical Islamist theorist writing under the name Abu Bakr Naji described in an internet handbook in 2006 as “the management of savagery”.[more inside]
"A rather different story though when it comes to the female of the species. Hesiod - an 8th/7th Century BC author whose works were as close as the Greeks got to a bible - described the first created woman simply as kalon kakon – 'the beautiful-evil thing'. She was evil because she was beautiful, and beautiful because she was evil. Being a good-looking man was fundamentally good news. Being a handsome woman, by definition, spelt trouble." [more inside]
The Periodic Expulsion of Evils (From Sir James George Frazer’s The Golden Bough)
"The expulsion of evils, from being occasional, tends to become periodic. It comes to be thought desirable to have a general riddance of evil spirits at fixed times, usually once a year, in order that the people may make a fresh start in life, freed from all the malignant influences which have been long accumulating about them."[more inside]
What do the words "safety," ''chaotic" and "problem" have in common? They're all on General Motors' list of banned words for employees who were documenting potential safety issues. The revelation of the 68-word list is one of the odder twists in GM's ongoing recall of 2.6 million older-model small cars for defective ignition switches. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver weighs in.
A Short History of Game Panics: [Boing Boing] "Do you know where you child is? Watch out: they might be in an arcade! Jesse Walker of Reason Magazine on video gaming's juciest moral panics." [Previously] [Previously] [Previously]
Animals have tempers. Bad tempers. And they want what they want. And there are animated gifs to prove it.
A growing number of American workers are confronting a frustrating predicament on payday: to get their wages, they must first pay a fee.
Though reducing hunger in school children has been proven to lead to a "significant increase in educational opportunity and attainment", the Tennessee state legislature believes they have a better plan to improve the performance of underprivileged students: a 30 percent reduction in "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families" benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school.
Horror movies aren't just for Halloween: Silent Night, Bloody Night, Black Christmas, To All A Good Night, Christmas Evil (starring Fiona Apple's dad as a homicidal Santa), Gremlins (in which Phoebe Cates learns there is no Santa Claus), Silent Night, Deadly Night (which inspired Parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 despite--or perhaps because of--denunciations by Siskel & Ebert and parents' groups), Elves, and Jack Frost
Following recent revelations about apparently systematic cover-ups and a deep failure to cooperate with police by the Roman Catholic Church, the Australian Prime Minister last night announced the establishment of a Royal Commission into institutional responses to child abuse to investigate the matter.
Super Mario Bros. Special occupies a strange place in Mario history. It's one of the few Mario games produced for a system other than Nintendo's own, licensed by Hudson Soft for the Japanese PC-8801 computer system. The system was fairly weak compared to an NES, so it didn't scroll; when Mario gets to the edge of the screen, it flips to the next. The game wasn't always designed with that in mind however, leading to a lot of blind jumps. You can play a hacked version of the original Super Mario Bros. designed to recreate this game using the patch found here. And here's a video playthrough of the whole game: World 1, World 2, World 3, World 4, World 5, World 6, World 7, World 8, Last level & ending. And here's a trap room in World 4.
Fall, Mortality, and the Machine: Tolkien and Technology From the beginnings of modern fantasy, in the work of Tolkien, technology has always been the enemy of the good life. But does it have to be that way?
Focus on the User, Google! says a coalition of engineers from Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. They have created their own 'Don't be Evil' bookmarklet to rearrange Google's social search results to remove G+ bias, using Google's own APIs. Caution: Bookmarklet does not work with IE or in areas without Google's new social search features. May choke smaller ferrets.
"This was meant as a Christmas present for two girls I know who are 5 and 7, but I don't think I'll give it to them actually. It turned out a bit too evil-demon-pig-from-hell-y for that. Now it's sitting on a shelf threatening me with its existence. I'm not quite sure what I should do with it."
Touch of Evil A NYT gallery of villainy featuring some of the best rouges of fiction.
An Era in Ideas. "To mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, The Chronicle Review asked a group of influential thinkers to reflect on some of the themes that were raised by those events and to meditate on their meaning, then and now. The result is a portrait of the culture and ideas of a decade born in trauma, but also the beginning of a new century, with all its possibilities and problems." [Via]
As the empire of Murdoch begins to fall, descriptions of the harm his empire has caused are appearing.
The logical conclusion of our relationship to computers: expectantly to type “what is the meaning of my life” into Google.
It’s for your own good—that is Google’s cherished belief. If we want the best possible search results, and if we want advertisements suited to our needs and desires, we must let them into our souls. James Gleick writes about 'How Google Dominates Us' for the New York Review of Books. [more inside]
Don't Be Evil -- a somewhat philosophical review of two new books about Google.
It's Only Rape if They Say So House Republicans decide to fight abortion access by redefining rape.
"What do we see when we look straight at the sun and then close our eyes? That's right, a bright moving disk that lasts several seconds. Every child knows this afterimage effect. We use the afterimage effect for a completely new brand experience, for the first advertising commercial that doesn't use a directly visible logo, but by doing so generates a more intensive connection to the target group. We developed a cinema ad for BMW motorcycles that turns spectators into astonished fans. It does this by using an afterimage of the brand to literally get inside people's heads."
Google recently rolled out its new instant search feature which accompanies its older "suggest" function. Both use an algorithm in an attempt to keep the search engine clean and out of trouble. The people at 2600.com are compiling a list of both objectionable and NOT objectionable terms (NSFW). [more inside]
Doctor Who Alignment Chart (single image link)
Should you ditch your dSLR? Wired thinks so. The recent introduction of EVIL cameras (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lenses) is a revolution in camera design that has eliminated the original bane of photography, parallax error, without the use of a mirror (greatly reducing camera size). Canon, Nikon, and Sony are expected to introduce EVIL-type cameras within the year. [more inside]
A brilliant farce (or is it) The Antichrist Conspiracy, Get ready to dig deep into the world wide web of conspiracy. Learn about the Luciferians, the Freemasons, and the Metafilter-moderator-cabal who together with the dark lord of hell and Yonkers is trying to harvest your organs for Satan. [more inside]
"I wanted that kid to lose sleep that night," a grinning Xinos says Wednesday, as he invites me for a nearly two-hour interview in his Mercedes-Benz in the gated Oak Brook community where he lives. "This is the real world and the lesson, you folks who brought your kids here, is if you want something, pay for it." [more inside]
Some late night fun with Mr. Deity- Mr. Deity Episode 1: Mr. Deity and the Evil Mr. Deity Episode 2: Mr. Deity and the Really Big Favor Mr. Deity Episode 3: Mr. Deity and The Light Mr. Deity Episode 4: Mr. Deity and the Messages
The diagnosis was only the first shock. The second came a few weeks later, in an Aug. 5 letter from Pat's health-insurance company. For six years — since losing the last job he had that provided medical coverage — Pat had been faithfully paying premiums to Assurant Health, buying a series of six-month medical policies, one after the other, always hoping he would soon find a job that would include health coverage. Until that happened, "unexpected illnesses and accidents happen every day, and the resulting medical bills can be disastrous," Assurant's website warned. "Safeguard your financial future with Short Term Medical temporary insurance. It provides the peace of mind and health care access you need at a price you can afford." [But] diagnosing and treating an illness may not fall neatly into six-month increments. While Pat had been continuously covered since 2002 by the same company, Assurant Health, each successive policy treated him as a brand-new customer. In looking back over Pat's medical records, the company noticed test results from December, eight months earlier. Though Pat's doctors didn't determine the precise cause of the problem until the following July, his kidney disease was nonetheless judged a "pre-existing condition" — meaning his insurance wouldn't cover it, since he was now under a different six-month policy from the one he had when he got those first tests..... I tried to talk to Assurant for this story. Its only response was a written statement from Scott Krienke, senior vice president for product lines: "Due to privacy regulations, we cannot discuss the specifics of any of our customers' coverage."
Frustrated with recent political developments, Malaysian blogger Kickdefella started an online protest of posting the Malaysian flag upside down on his blog, reflecting the use of an upside down flag as a sign of distress. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi decries the move as 'evil'. More information at Global Voices Advocacy.
Measuring depravity. The Depravity Scale is an international research effort that aims to scientifically standardize the definition of legal terms such as "heinous", "atrocious", "evil" , and "depraved" according to input from the general public. But is the Scale itself, er, a bad idea? [more inside]
The Milgram Experiment Today? "Students commonly assume that, even if Milgram’s famous experiment sheds important light on the power of situation today, were his experiment precisely reproduced today, it would not generate comparable results. To oversimplify the argument behind that claim: The power of white lab coats just ain’t what it used to be. Of course, that assertion has been difficult to challenge given that the option of replicating the Milgram experiment has been presumptively unavailable — indeed, it has been the paradigmatic example of why psychology experiments must be reviewed by institutional review boards ('IRBs'). Who would even attempt to challenge that presumption? The answer: Jerry Burger, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University. With some slight modifications, Burger manage to obtain permission to replicate Milgram’s experiment — and the results may surprise you." [Via MindHacks]
Questioning the banality of evil. "There is a widespread consensus amongst psychologists that tyranny triumphs either because ordinary people blindly follow orders or else because they mindlessly conform to powerful roles. However, recent evidence concerning historical events challenges these views. In particular, studies of the Nazi regime reveal that its functionaries engaged actively and creatively with their tasks. Re-examination of classic social psychological studies points to the same dynamics at work. This article summarises these developments and lays out the case for an updated social psychology of tyranny that explains both the influence of tyrannical leaders and the active contributions of their followers." [Via Mind Hacks.]
E-How to be an evil villain, The Ultimate Evil Villain Role Model, Top Reasons to Become a Supervillain, Vote Evil, Supver Villain Ethics, and Forbes Management Secrets of the Super Villains. [more inside]
Did the clients [at the brothel] realize that they were in fact getting an orangutan? “Oh yeah, they would come in especially for it. You could choose a human if you preferred, but it was a novelty for many of the men to have sex with an orangutan.” Via.
Linux For the Damned. "We suggest installing over Ubuntu Christian Edition, but the standard Ubuntu will do fine."
When memes have sex, they produce inbred monstrosities. It began with just an innocent South Park pilot and a fat kid's weird way of saying "kitty". Then, the Engrish meme met the L33t meme over for dinner. But their pal, the Cat Macros meme, broke in at gunpoint. The product of this unholy threeway union? LOL-Kitteh, a new 'speak' guaranteeing illegibility to future generations, transforming "that cute cat has a bow on its head" to "Omg him gotz da bowwagez on himz hed lyk WTF?!?" Learn how to make me want to leap through my monitor to kill you with ICanHasCheezBurger's handy five-step tutorial to transform English into LOL-Kitteh (using Engrish and l33t as guides).
You have spacial skills. Apply them in Building Houses 2, on mathsnet.net. Or freestyle in Building Houses 1. Or at night! Oh and also there's like a hundred more puzzles over there too. Some java required.
Retiring psychology professor Philip G. Zimbardo, who ran the Stanford Prison Experiment, gave his final lecture at Stanford this week, criticizing the Bush administration and saying that senior government officials responsible for Abu Ghraib should be "tried for the crimes against humanity." [Via MindHacks.]
Fractran. A Turing complete programming language expressed in prime numbers from John Conway. (Interpreter here.) More pathological programming. Via Good Math, Bad Math.
Evil Villain Now Hiring I was looking for jobs this morning on craigslist, when I found this unique job opportunity. I have to say though I had no idea there were hollowed out active volcanoes in Maine.
In the latest salvo of the marketing wars, London ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi has taken the unique step of creating a new pop band that combines all the manufactured charm of the Spice Girls with all the serious musical chops of a female version of N'Sync (or, for the Brits out there, a female version of "Take That"). The band has yet to have a name, but they will be available to directly promote whatever item corporate sponsors pay Saatchi to have them promote.
Dictator of the Month. Your one stop shop for all your dictator-oriented needs. Even includes scorecards. From Amin to Zedong, they're all right here, folks. Enjoy some righteous anger.
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