November 23, 2010

What Body Scanners Really Show

. . . is that (1) our leaders are in corporate pockets, and/or (2) our leaders are more afraid of US than they are of terrorists.

Body scanner makers doubled lobbying cash over 5 years
". . . Rapiscan Systems, meanwhile, has spent $271,500 on lobbying so far this year, compared with $80,000 five years earlier. It has faced criticism for hiring Michael Chertoff, the former Homeland Security secretary, last year. Chertoff has been a prominent proponent of using scanners to foil terrorism. The government has spent $41.2 million with Rapiscan. . . ."

Body scanner CEO accompanied Obama to India
". . . The CEO of one of the two companies licensed to sell full body scanners to the TSA accompanied President Barack Obama to India earlier this month, a clear sign of the deep ties between Washington politicians and the companies pushing to have body scanners installed at all US airports. . . ."

Body scanner caught masturbating
". . . as a team of High School netball players went through the scanner. 'The young ladies were going through the scanner one by one, and . . . .'"

And see this translation of what John Pistole means when he talks about providing the "high level of confidence" we weren't clamoring for:

But it's not the waste of money I mainly object to, and it's certainly not the invasion of my bodily privacy, or even the damage to my DNA; it's the rape of my Fourth Amendment rights.

What's next, scanning before travel by train? bus? toll roads? TSA is performing a police function with respect to a public, common carrier. The government cannot be allowed to unilaterally repeal the Constitution merely by subcontracting its obligations to private corporations.

UPDATE: If you had any remaining doubt about the real purposes of this "security theater," see this documentary: "Some facts from Please Remove Your Shoes . . . : 'During the first 3 months of 2007, the TSA Logistics Center received 8 explosive detection systems units at a cost of about $7 million. As of January 2009, all 8 explosive detection systems units remained in storage at the Logistics Center. TSA paid out $98 million in bonuses and pay raises in 2008. According to GAO, TSA inspectors spend 33% of their time inspecting, 8% on incidents, 5% investigating, 5% on 'outreach' 49% of their time on 'other.' Other?'" (Link inserted; from BoingBoing via Ben – thanks!)

FURTHER UPDATE: I thought I was kidding about scanning before boarding a bus!

FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE: Mark Denninger makes a great point: none of the 9/11 hijackers or the underwear bomber had the documentation to remain in or enter the U.S. legally, and the technology to turn up that fact in time to have prevented them from flying here has been commercially available for 20 years, but only now has the Obama admin finally announced we'll start using it. (Meanwhile, we've spent billions on "worthless virtual strip-search machines" from Chertoff & Co.)

November 19, 2010


. . . , that is, Fritz Donnelly and Christina Ewald, have organized 5 wacky, participatory happenings per week since March, 2009, in their Brooklyn, NY space. Looks like their movie will incorporate some of the hi-lites; should be fun and interesting, at least for people like me who participated in one of their events.

Brent Green's Gravity

Within the last month, I've seen two Brent Green pieces that were new to me, both brilliant. First, Paulina Hollers at Site Santa Fe (mentioned in this previous post). More recently, Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then at Diverseworks in Houston. The latter piece was shown as part of The Second Program in Dallas and I unfortunately couldn't make it; but Diverseworks had a wonderful installation including the main video plus three related videos plus a sort of 3-D, room-sized panoply comprising a sprawling banner, giant corrugated cardboard cutouts, painting, and texts. Here are some installation pics; below is a video of Green with some background on the videos and a related sculpture that was not included at Diverseworks. (The show runs through Dec. 19.)

November 14, 2010

The other night

. . . I had a dream inside a dream (meaning "dream" literally.)

First I had a dream. Then I dreamed I was telling my dream to a shrink.

In the middle of it, he got up and left. I turned to the other people in the room – oddly, there were some – and said, "It wasn't that boring, was it?"

I'm not telling any more about the dream-within-the-dream, except it wasn't boring.

November 7, 2010

Pogomix's "Snow White"

Built from audio and video from the 1937 Disney classic; cf. the ultra-lame, official Disney trailer. As I understand, some of Pogo's best work remains unseen due to legal obstacles.

UPDATE: This post led to a pretty interesting discussion in a private forum, which I'm taking the liberty of copying here:

R----: Fagottron does some great remix compositions!

K----: creepy happy

S----: This remix is much better than the original.

c.: This was my intro to this guy; I think he's really inspired. Whether consciously intended or not, the thing reads eerily well as social commentary--mocking both the 50's & the hopey-changey thing, yet pointing out that (as stated in "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,") "Nothing is inevitable, except defeat for those who give up . . . ." The transformation he wrought on the original music seems impt., too: from a somewhat more mournful, passive song wishing for someone to rescue her, to a more rockin'-yet-Zen-yet-proactive inspiration.

I----: I agree with the proactive presentation, however, its too slick and seems to extol or satirize mechanization, industrialization....Huxley's hypnotic repetitious conditioning that turns human beings into automated robots...

I like real sound, real music and what is so wrong with 'hopey-changey'? It doesn't have to mean a denial of what is real, but to deny hope can lead to change is to me, the hallmark of oppression and the game of the oppressors. Thanks for the quotation and the video, food for thought.....

c.: I----, thanks. I think we agree more than not.

I.m.o., the only thing wrong with the recent hopey-changey was that it was NOT entirely based in reality, & did involve wishing for a hero who'd fix things for us, instead of us doing the work to understand & reform the system.

For me, the video does not at all deny hope; among other things, the whole chord structure strikes me as more "major" (as opposed to minor) or cheerful than the orig'l song, as well has having a much perkier beat. But at this point, we have our work cut out for us--among other things, to try to see through the "capitalism" and "socialism" brands & sort thru what actually does & does not work re- both, to understand the substance well enough that we don't throw out the good parts while the bad parts are simply re-labelled & re-sold to us (we know the t-party won't be the last experiment in conservative re-branding).

I totally agree re- the creepiness of the video, too--like the way Snow White claps her hands like an infant, with eyes swooning like Marilyn Monroe who, as Cynthia Heimel observed so acutely, became the ultimate sex object by acting like she was too dumb to realize she had a p*ssy. I'm thinking at least some of these aspects are revealing about expectations in the '50's, & feel the artist used them deliberately--that's part of what I find so fascinating about the piece--while leaving it up to us to decide what elements just seem weird now & what elements seem to have turned out to be enduring (e.g., Snow White's ability to love & enjoy a bunch of dwarves with major idiosyncracies that may limit them individually yet turn out to be complementary in a group).

Sorry to go on so long; guess this piece just really tapped into a bunch of stuff I've been thinking & feeling . . .

I----: Agreed...many of us have forgotten the spirit of self-reliance and individualism combined with respect for others that we grew up believing in...And, yeah, I remember the Class of 70's 'Fun Girls' rant...."Someday my prince will come, someday, I'll find the bum...." So, maybe there was less naivete then.....Thanks for engaging in this discussion. Enjoy your posts and your website!

I----: For some reason, not all of your post first appeared. My comment above only addressed the first paragraph.

I also agree with you, particularly your comments about re-brainding. The caricature represented by the exaggerated innocence of Snow White, for adults, is creepy, even in the original. However, it was meant for children, not for adults. The sad thing about child development is that around the ages of 3 and 4 we all learn about lies and deceptions....the Tooth Fairy....but to believe, to question whether what is wished can be real has motivated scientists, intellectuals and geniuses throughout human history. I love that serious physicists are developing theories of multi-universes; that social psychologists regularly refer to mind-reading as an activity of the brain which enhances brain function ie understand the perspective of the other person and your brain functions better, if you are competing, it gives you an advantage....these people, not too long ago, would have been 'branded', now it is state-of-the art...

I enjoyed the beat too, but synthesized, metallic beats remind me of a Wrinkle in Time and the fight with the 'Brain' that could only be won by calculating mathematical formulas....

Marilyn...oh, poor Marilyn...what women convince themselves, or rather allow others to convince themselves of, is tragically packaged in her story....

Have been thinking too much, perhaps about the women in Iran and Saudi Arabia, among other places, who are condemned to death by stoning and trying to understand how really intelligent people, people who seem concerned about others, can allow this....So, I guess your post hit on some things I have been coping with too....

Again, thanks for the post and your viewpoints!

November 6, 2010

NDTV India: 24/7 Coverage of Obama's Visit

here. The Indians are apparently excited.

I'd love to go to India; and not just 'cuz of the awesome commercials I'm seeing on this channel; I have the general if largely unresearched impression that India may now be the world's biggest lab for unfettered capitalism (possibly even moreso than the U.S.?)

At this moment, NDTV's reporting that the U.S. is now willing to lift restrictions against the export to India of sensitive nuclear weapons technologies so as to – surprise! – benefit U.S. companies selling same, and that it's probably only because we're in such bad economic shape that we're willing to do it. "US, India sign deals worth $20 billion," etc.

Michelle just got up and started dancing with the school kids. Now, Obama.

UPDATE: Per The Colbert Report on 2010-11-08, it was NDTV that cited an anonymous official as the source for the myth that Obama's trip is costing $200 million per day.

November 5, 2010

Dick Flash/Eno

(In case you didn't notice . . . Eno's playing both roles. Thanks, Craig!)

November 4, 2010

To Those Who Think the 'Net Will Save Us

. . . from the evil effects of media consolidation, please note: before the midterms, there were 95 Congressional candidates who pledged support for 'net neutrality. ALL of them lost. More at CNNMoney.


New Cisco software enables monitoring of social network users in real time.

HTML5's "evercookie": far more intrusive and all but impossible to delete.

FB is already using HTML5.

November 3, 2010

For What It's Worth . . .

. . . i.m.h.o., Dem losses are attributable mainly to their failure to beat back conservatives w.r.t.:

  1. Election integrity (both electronic voting and campaign finance, including corporate money);
  2. Media integrity (the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine and restrictions on ownership consolidation); and
  3. Public education (destruction begun long ago and currently continuing under Obama appointee Arne Duncan).
Americans are not stupid; they're miseducated and brainwashed. "A modern economic system demands mass production of students who are not educated and have been rendered incapable of thinking."– U.N.E.F. Strasbourg, On the Poverty of Student Life (1966).

And it's not that Dems can't message; it's that they've lost control of their own message, because it's either distorted or not reported by the media. Reality is now almost wholly overshadowed by emotional manipulation and spectacle created by a media largely controlled by the right.

Remember this from 2004 re- the term, "Reality-Based Community":

The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, The New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush (later attributed to Karl Rove): The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." . . . "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued . . . ."
(Wikipedia; footnotes deleted.)

B.t.w., there's just one state – California – in which easily-hacked electronic voting machines have been pretty much eliminated. And in that state, EVERY statewide elective office went to Dems. Probably just a coincidence.

November 1, 2010

Size Matters:

How big was your rally? (Click on the image for a larger version.)