November 21, 2012

[Not sure if this post had a title?]

Dan Colen, TBT, 2012, concrete filled whoopee cushion, 16.5 x 13 x 7 inches. At OHWOW's It Ain't Fair 2012, Art Basel, Miami.

October 14, 2012

Critical Art Ensemble

You can tell I'm researching for a curatorial project.

Just came across this from CAE, re- their 2012 project, Winning Hearts and Minds, presented at documenta 13:
War zones are as instructive as they are destructive. Since Vietnam, they have beautifully illustrated the contradiction between capitalism and democracy. . . . The establishment of global democracy has never been a goal of global capital. Its preference is for an authoritarian plutocracy that can be labeled a democracy. This is why the psy-ops principle of “winning hearts and minds” could simultaneously exist with the military strategy of “search and destroy.” Now that winning hearts and minds is not just US policy, but NATO policy, we can see it at work in every conflict in which NATO members have a stake; in every case, the idea of winning over the people through the alleged establishment of democratic institutions never has to be reconciled with unprovoked invasion, house-to-house searches, assassinations, torture, or drone attacks . . . .

Cultural institutions in capitalist nations reflect this same disturbing set of contradictions and relationships. In the field of visual arts, museums tend toward a support of plutocracy through collection building and maintaining the value of collections by functioning as a parallel track to the art market. Institutes, Kunsthalles, and major festivals function as corporate alibis for good cultural citizenship, and too often function within the frame of research and development of cultural products in the service of profit and enterprise. At the same time, these institutions have their democratic side, which usually appears in the form of community outreach, public programming, or education programs. These programs are generally the most impoverished, but are staffed by those who genuinely want to create events promoting social change (and are willing to accept poverty as a given condition to do it). This blend of having few resources together with a strong sense of volunteerism leads to the development of low-cost public events that are subsidized by the free labor of those who create them. Or to put it another way, the poor subsidize the creation of a false alibi that signifies the beneficence of [the] plutocracy. And yet, on an immediate person-to-person level, the results of such performances, exhibitions, and events can be inspiring and culturally valuable.
 * * * * *
Two weeks before the festival started, we issued a call for proposals to use the space for one hour each day at noon; there would be one hundred lunchtime events over the one hundred days. Proposals poured in from around the world. Even though we told those who applied that there was no financial support, and even worse, that they would have to bring all their own equipment, the program filled in a matter of weeks. Most of the events we chose were not curatorially viable (which is not to say we didn’t think they were good projects). As usual, the poor and the marginal were subsidizing the wealthy with free programming.
More at Critical Art Ensemble's website.

Soda_Jerk Re- Copyright

Soda_Jerk's site is here.

To Google and My Readers

The new blogger interface imposed by Google is an unmitigated disaster.

I'd have liked to post my curatorial essay re- Expanded Cinema here, but it's apparently become impossible to format it correctly unless I first take the time to learn whatever code it is that Google's now using. Searching for help, I get 11,099,961 hits of "I hate the new blogger interface."

Since I won't be blogging much during the next couple of months anyway, I've decided to defer any drastic action 'til year-end in the hope that Google might perhaps either restore the Blogspot interface or fix some of the biggest problems created with the new one.

But bottom line: if Google doesn't fix the problems by then and I'm going to be forced onto a more Wordpress-like platform, I might as well port to Wordpress, where I can have my privacy.

October 8, 2012

R. Luke DuBois

Doing some curating for my next project, Co- Re-Creating Spaces, an exhibition opening on Nov. 17 at CentralTrak (in Dallas, TX), and enjoying the research.

The artist explains,
Kiss takes 50 iconic embraces from the history of cinema and re-animates them through a non-photorealistic rendering technique developed by the artist. The technique analyzes the footage by looking at details in the source that resemble the lips of the kissing actors and redrawing them with points tinted to match the colors of the original film. Because the computer schematizes lips in a mathematically abstract, and not particularly accurate, manner, all sorts of details fit this criteria, causing the software to highlight not only lips but hair, details in clothing, and portions of the cinematic backdrop. The artist then creates a vectorization of these 'points of interest' akin to a cats-cradle, connecting all the dots to create a work of moving string-art that entwines the actors performing the kiss in a new, geometric embrace of connecting lines. A deliberate misuse of computer vision, Kiss evokes the embrace-as-viewed, tracing the trajectory of our gaze with an abstract connectivity akin to our mirror neurons firing when we feel the romance underneath these cinematic objects. The soundtrack of the piece subjects the non-diegetic soundtrack of the kissing scenes to an auditory time-lapse effect, creating a feedback network that underscores and propels the imagery.

September 24, 2012

Fight Bite - Charlotte Iris

Seriously, Google has made it very difficult for me to even get in here to post, let alone format anything.

Anyway, quick share:

(Thanks, Sally!)

September 22, 2012

I've Got the Pwr

(Thanks, Danette!)

Google Destroying Blogspot?

or just making my life more difficult. We blogspotters have been forced onto an interface that looks more like Wordpress, which as far as I can tell is clunkier and gives us less control. I've considered migrating to Wordpress before – I could host my blogs on my own server and have greater privacy, etc. – but rejected it because the blogspot user interface was superior. Google has chosen to trash that advantage.

Testing image control and positioning with the image right.

Ok, maybe I can get used to this, but where the h*ll do I enter labels? 

September 16, 2012

"Expanded Cinema"

Sorry to be so scarce here lately; I've been working on another big project. The 25th Dallas VideoFest opens on Sept. 26 with a screening of new video art works created especially for the LED display on the exterior walls of the Omni Dallas Hotel. I'll have a new piece of my own in the program, and have also been the coordinator/compiler for it, and before that, Ben Britt and I also created a template to enable myself and the other artists to make their works. We expect the audio for the initial screening to be simulcast on public radio KXT 91.7 FM public radio.

The show is called Expanded Cinema, in honor of pioneering new media art theorist Gene Youngblood (whose seminal book by the same title is seen as the first to propound video's potential as a fine art medium, and who will speak at the Dallas Museum of Art as part of the fest on Sat., Sept. 29). (Image left shot by Danielle Georgiou at a test screening.)

The show will include works by 14 artists selected by Bart, Michael A. Morris, and me, including Kari Altmann, Frank Campagna, Tim Capper, Rebecca Carter, Jeff Gibbons, Andrea Goldman, Mona Kasra, Kyle Kondas, Phil Lamb, Shane Mecklenburger, Mike Morris, Edward Setina, Jenny Vogel, and me. Expanded Cinema starts at 8:00 PM; pls watch for announcements re- a viewing location (generally, the best views will be from the south near the Houston St. Viaduct and Jefferson St. Bridge, along the far levy from the hotel).

The remaining 4 days of the 25th Dallas VideoFest will take place at the Dallas Museum of Art. The all-fest pass is a steal at $50; tickets here. In past years there've been some 250 videos to choose from; I think there may be slightly fewer this year, but with perhaps a greater proportion of the kinds you might find in an art gallery, for what that's worth, since I, Mike Morris, and Dee Mitchell helped curate in addition to the festival Director, Bart Weiss.

PS: I wrote an article for art+seek in honor of the 25th VideoFest, here, discussing some of my favorite videos shown at VideoFests past and how they relate to some of my favorites in the present, including works by Cindy Sherman, Sadie Benning, Martha Rosler, Mary Reid Kelley, and many more.

UPDATE: You can now see the piece I made for the program, Braille, here. More info about Expanded Cinema and the works in it here.

I Love the Aesthetics of this Video

If you've never seen "Naked tourist in Japanese moat," just go (sadly, embedding is not an option).

August 29, 2012


Thanks, NASA! (More at the link.)

August 27, 2012

Dallas VideoFest 25th Anniversary Party!

I'm throwing a party tonite F-U-N it's called "Experiments in [Video]," bring everything that you own! (paraphrasing one of my fave videos brought to you by the Video Association of Dallas). And it's coming right up, on Sept. 14! But I'm not throwing it, AMS Pictures is; and you don't need to bring everything you own, just $25.

The event will feature a micro-fest of old VideoFest faves, a silent auction, and of course, a preview of what's to come at the 25th Dallas VideoFest! A panel of guests will also discuss their favorite VideoFest moments; the guests include:

Ed Bark, TV critic and blogger
Manny Mendoza, former DMN TV critic and filmmaker
Mark Birnbaum, filmmaker
moi, video artist
Katie Gimenez, Director of Networking at Plano Chamber of Commerce (and former DVF Festival Coordinator)
Come get prep'd for the fest, help re-create the world as a more interesting, fun place (another quote from Treetin: [s]how me something beautiful and I will go on) by contributing to a great organization, and party! – more info here, and tickets here!

August 24, 2012

Back to the Future of Video Art

The history of video art includes lots of wonderful work, much of which is rarely seen; but you'll have a few chances to catch up soon.

First, the Power Station will host four nights of video art from the past thru the present:

Aug. 30, video art from the 70's, selected by Mike Morris;
Sept. 6, from the 80's, selected by Ben Lima;
Sept. 13, from the 90's, selected by Jenny Vogel;
Sept. 20, from the 00's, selected by Nadav Assor.
All shows start at 7:30PM; the Power Station is located at 3816 Commerce, Dallas.

Meanwhile, on Sept. 14 at 7PM, AMS Pictures will host a 25th anniversary bash for the Dallas VideoFest featuring 3 rooms with screenings of favorites from past festivals, a panel briefly discussing their faves, and a program previewing Director Bart Weiss's picks from this year's festival. Tickets to this fundraiser are only $25 per person or $40 per couple.

And that brings us to the Dallas VideoFest itself, which is making new history by opening on Sept. 26 with a program of video art works created especially for and displayed on the four curved walls of the Omni Hotel, Dallas.

The remaining 4 days of the festival, most of which is dedicated to contemporary works, will take place at the Dallas Museum of Art. The all-fest pass is a steal at $50; tickets here. More details about the VideoFest to come.

August 19, 2012

New DB12

The new volume, curated by Stephen Lapthisophon, is up here.

Route Opened for Donations to Wikileaks

Per WL Central,

After almost two years of fighting an unlawful banking blockade by U.S financial giants VISA and MasterCard, WikiLeaks has announced it is back open for donations.

After WikiLeaks' publications revealing U.S. war crimes and statecraft in 2010, U.S. financial institutions erected a banking blockade against WikiLeaks wholly outside of any judicial or administrative process. The blockade came during a time of substantial economic growth for WikiLeaks but blocked over 95% of donations, costing the organization in excess of USD 20M.

The Wau Holland Transparency Reports for WikiLeaks' finances, released today, illustrate the financial consequences of 18 consecutive months of economic censorship. For the year 2011, the blockade resulted in WikiLeaks' income falling to just 21% of its operating costs.

WikiLeaks has been forced to run on its cash reserves at the Wau Holland Foundation, which have diminished from EUR 800K at the end of December 2010, to less than EUR 100K at the end of June 2012. As the graph shows, WikiLeaks' reserve funds will expire at the current austere rate of expenditure within a few months. In order to effectively continue its mission, WikiLeaks must raise a minimum of EUR 1M immediately.
More at the link above. You can donate here – that's direct from WL Central and should be reliable; I just donated.

And Now for Some Nomi:

August 18, 2012

Dallas VideoFest 25

. . . makes a big entrance with a program of new video art created especially for the nearly 200-foot high display system on the exterior walls of the Omni Hotel, Dallas, at 8:30PM on Wednesday, Sept. 26 . The program is entitled, Expanded Cinema, borrowed from the 1970 book of the same title by seminal new media theorist Gene Youngblood (see also this previous post), who will give a lecture at the festival, Secession from the Broadcast: The Internet and the Crisis of Social Control, at 3PM on Sunday at the DMA, Horchow Auditorium.

The image right is from OMNEY, one of the videos to be included in Expanded Cinema, by Shane Mecklenburger, who provided the transcription of Youngblood's talk at the latter link. The Omni display completely wraps the building; hence the weird aspect ratio. (Full disclosure: I'm helping to organize the program and will have a piece in it.)

Because of the unique characteristics of the Omni "screen," most of the artists had to re-invent their approach to an extent perhaps greater than usual, in order to create works that might exploit the potential of this new platform while adapting to its requirements and continuing to explore the concerns with which they prefer to engage in their aesthetic practices. They have risen to the challenge, and the resulting works are gorgeous and fascinating.

The rest of the VideoFest will be at the Dallas Museum of Art, Sept. 26 - 30; block out your calendar! It's shaping up to be one of the best fests yet. As the dates approach, I hope to post more details here, including a chronological schedule with program descriptions all in one page.

But go ahead and buy tickets for the fest (I recommend full immersion), find more info, or (please!) donate at You can also donate via Kickstarter here.

Here's an auditory blast from the past, ca. early Gene Youngblood . . .

August 10, 2012

An Apparently Rambling Tho' Covertly Somewhat Coherent Post

. . . that allows me to touch on several interesting yet diverse topics while making a few perhaps unexpectedly related points:

I've done virtually nothing to promote this blog; my own family and most of my friends don't read it.

So I was rather pleased and surprised to find recently that Google's Blogspot Stats say that, since Google bought Blogspot ca. May, 2008, c-Blog has averaged ca. 4,000 hits per month. (And I don't think too many could be from spammers, since I rarely receive spam comments.)

My most popular posts have been on the Hajj, the Yes Lab, Matthew Barney and Ryan Trecartin, Obama re- the Holocaust, and the 2009 NYC Art Fairs.

Somehow, my comments on Barney's and Trecartin's works drew 116 page views this week. But the Hajj post remains the all-time big hitter, with the Obama re- the Holocaust post not far behind.

In the Hajj post, I simply gave a short description of Hajj based on info found at Wikipedia: "The Hajj (Arabic: حج‎ Ḥaǧǧ) is a pilgrimage to Mecca. It is currently the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a moral obligation that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. . . ."

In the Obama re- the Holocaust post, I pasted a copy of his words written in the guest book at Israel's Holocaust Memorial (see below).

None of us ever knows really what it is we've managed to do that might actually turn out to have been the most helpful toward whatever we really hoped most to help.

In Coleridge's Biographia Literaria and other writings, he periodically referred to this book he thought he should write, the Logosophia. He never finished that book. But maybe the Biographia, perhaps together with his other works, through indirection, sufficiently constituted the work he thought we needed? At least, it influenced me.

Two years before my father died, he threw his last big tantrum that I witnessed. (It was at that late date that I finally recognized that "tantrum" was what it was that he'd been doing throughout our lives whenever necessary to get his way.) During the only slightly less excruciating, semi-apologetic wind-down, he told me things that made plain he remained utterly deluded as to both his greatest accomplishments and his greatest failings as a parent.

But just because he utterly misunderstood his real accomplishments, didn't mean there weren't any; there were.

A lot of people hoped Obama might help re- the Middle East. Here's a transcript of his hand-written words at the Holocaust Memorial:

I'm grateful to Yad Vashem and all of those responsible for this remarkable institution. At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man's potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world. Let our children come here, and know this history, so that they can add their voices to proclaim "never gain." And may we remember those who perished, not only as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed like us, and who have become symbols of the human spirit.
We can't know if Obama will ever live up to the promise he showed. All we can do is try to be the promise that he showed.

August 9, 2012

Far as I can tell . . .

this is factually accurate:

August 6, 2012

Haruhiko Kawaguchi

I want to squeeze her, too. More at Oddity Central (thanks, Ben!)

Wozniak: Cloud Computing Will Cause "Horrible Problems"

"Wozniak didn't offer much in the way of specifics . . . . [but said, 't]he more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it.'" Steve Wozniak was the inventor of the Apple I and Apple II computers.

More at Business Insider. You can find more re- the kinds of problems I worry about by clicking on the label, "Worldbeam," at the bottom of this post.

July 27, 2012

Techniques for Covert Manipulation on the Internet

Per Wikipedia,

COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal,[2] projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.

* * * * *
The FBI engaged in political repression almost from the time of the agency's inception in 1908, and antecedents to COINTELPRO operated during the FDR and Truman administrations. Centralized operations under COINTELPRO officially began in 1956 with a program designed to "increase factionalism, cause disruption and win defections" inside the Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA). However, the program was soon enlarged to include disruption of . . . the entire New Left social/political movement, which included antiwar, community, and religious groups (1968). . . . Official congressional committees and several court cases[14] have concluded that COINTELPRO operations . . . exceeded statutory limits on FBI activity and violated constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and association.[2]

Since the conclusion of centralized COINTELPRO operations in 1971, . . . allegations of improper political repression continue.[15][16]
It's widely believed that COINTELPRO-type activity continues to take place on the internet (as well as elsewhere), and one helpful soul has posted a gentleperson's guide such techniques, here. (Of course, such techniques could be in use by groups not employed by governments, too.) I believe I've personally observed such techniques being used, e.g., on, and I think the more of us who are aware of them, the better. Here's an excerpt:
COINTELPRO Techniques for dilution, misdirection and control of a internet forum.

There are several techniques for the control and manipulation of a internet forum no matter what, or who is on it. We will go over each technique and demonstrate that only a minimal number of operatives can be used to eventually and effectively gain a control of a 'uncontrolled forum.'

Technique #1 - 'FORUM SLIDING'
If a very sensitive posting of a critical nature has been posted on a forum - it can be quickly removed from public view by 'forum sliding.' In this technique a number of unrelated posts are quietly prepositioned on the forum and allowed to 'age.' Each of these misdirectional forum postings can then be called upon at will to trigger a 'forum slide.' The second requirement is that several fake accounts exist, which can be called upon, to ensure that this technique is not exposed to the public. To trigger a 'forum slide' and 'flush' the critical post out of public view it is simply a matter of logging into each account both real and fake and then 'replying' to prepositined postings with a simple 1 or 2 line comment. This brings the unrelated postings to the top of the forum list, and the critical posting 'slides' down the front page, and quickly out of public view. Although it is difficult or impossible to censor the posting it is now lost in a sea of unrelated and unuseful postings. By this means it becomes effective to keep the readers of the forum reading unrelated and non-issue items.

A second highly effective technique (which you can see in operation all the time at is 'consensus cracking.' To develop a consensus crack, the following technique is used. Under the guise of a fake account a posting is made which looks legitimate and is towards the truth is made - but the critical point is that it has a VERY WEAK PREMISE without substantive proof to back the posting. Once this is done then under alternative fake accounts a very strong position in your favour is slowly introduced over the life of the posting. It is IMPERATIVE that both sides are initially presented, so the uninformed reader cannot determine which side is the truth. As postings and replies are made the stronger 'evidence' or disinformation in your favour is slowly 'seeded in.' Thus the uninformed reader will most like develop the same position as you, and if their position is against you their opposition to your posting will be most likely dropped. However in some cases where the forum members are highly educated and can counter your disinformation with real facts and linked postings, you can then 'abort' the consensus cracking by initiating a 'forum slide.'

Technique #3 - 'TOPIC DILUTION'
Topic dilution is not only effective in forum sliding it is also very useful in keeping the forum readers on unrelated and non-productive issues. This is a critical and useful technique to cause a 'RESOURCE BURN.' By implementing continual and non-related postings that distract and disrupt (trolling ) the forum readers they are more effectively stopped from anything of any real productivity. If the intensity of gradual dilution is intense enough, the readers will effectively stop researching and simply slip into a 'gossip mode.' In this state they can be more easily misdirected away from facts towards uninformed conjecture and opinion. The less informed they are the more effective and easy it becomes to control the entire group in the direction that you would desire the group to go in. It must be stressed that a proper assessment of the psychological capabilities and levels of education is first determined of the group to determine at what level to 'drive in the wedge.' By being too far off topic too quickly it may trigger censorship by a forum moderator.

Much more at the link; please read and share.

July 23, 2012

Choi Xoo-Ang

Click on the image for a larger version; more at redefine.

July 22, 2012

The Palestinian Situation

I've been hearing of conflicts between Israel and its neighbors my whole life, but the news media never explained enough for it to make sense, and I'm afraid I never took the time to fully inform myself.

I was of course horrified by the Holocaust; the images from the death camps were burned into my brain at an early age, and they and the history that goes with them should never be forgotten. And I read Exodus, which portrayed the founding of the modern Israel in thrilling terms; and I could certainly understand why Jewish people would feel the need for their own state, where they could never again be a persecuted minority.

But from the start, I had trouble understanding why it was fair to force the people already living in those lands to give them up in order to create the new state. If Westerners were so keen to support the project, whey didn't they donate their own lands, instead of taking from others?

The history of this situation is long, with many twists and turns, and I remain embarrassingly ignorant about most of it; but during the last few years, I've come across a couple of items that seemed helpful enough to share.

The first was a video by artist Ursula Biemann, X-Mission (2008) (viewable at the foregoing link), which explores among other things the effects of the division of the Palestinian people among geographically dispersed locations and their partial re-connection via new communications technologies.

The second is the image at left, from Michal Vexler at +972 (click on it for a more legible version), which shows how Palestinians have been divided into five categories of citizenship with different rights and subject to different restrictions.

July 21, 2012

Elites Hiding at Least $20 TRILLION. Seriously.

Per the Guardian,

James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report . . . . He shows that at least £13tn – perhaps up to £20tn – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks.

* * * * *
"The problem here is that the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments," the report says.

The sheer size of the cash pile sitting out of reach of tax authorities is so great that it suggests standard measures of inequality radically underestimate the true gap between rich and poor. According to Henry's calculations, £6.3tn of assets is owned by only 92,000 people, or 0.001% of the world's population – a tiny class of the mega-rich who have more in common with each other than those at the bottom of the income scale in their own societies.

"These estimates reveal a staggering failure: inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people," said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network.
Note, that's 13 to 20 trillion British pounds, which per my computer's converter = more than 20 to 31 trillion US dollars.

P.S.: Based on current US census estimates, that's nearly $64,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US. And that's just the offshored stuff; you also have to add in whatever they haven't managed to hide.

A Few Headlines: Facebook & Other Big Bros., & the Nasher v. Museum Tower

More at the links.

1. What Facebook Knows. "[O]n 219 million randomly chosen occasions, Facebook prevented someone from seeing a link shared by a friend. Hiding links this way created a control group . . . . the company is not above using its platform to tweak users' behavior. . . . By learning more about how small changes on Facebook can alter users' behavior outside the site, the company eventually 'could allow others to make use of Facebook in the same way' says Marlow."

(Rough translation of image at left: "I give the secrets of big companies to you, and I am a terrorist – Assange; I give your secrets to big companies, and I am Man of the Year – Zuckerberg.")

2. Three NSA Whistleblowers Back EFF's Lawsuit Re- Gov't's Massive Spying on US Civilians. "Three . . . former employees of the National Security Agency (NSA) . . . have come forward to . . . confirm that the NSA has, or is in the process of obtaining, the capability to seize and store most electronic communications passing through its U.S. intercept centers, such as the 'secret room' at the AT&T facility in San Francisco first disclosed by retired AT&T technician Mark Klein in early 2006." (Link added.)

3. US Nat'l Reconnaissance Office's Castoff 'Scopes Beat NASA's Hubbell. "The U.S. government’s secret space program has decided to give NASA two telescopes . . . . [d]esigned for surveillance [and] no longer needed for spy missions . . . . These telescopes will have 100 times the field of view of the Hubble . . . . NASA official Michael Moore gave some hint of what a Hubble-class space telescope might do if used for national security: 'With a Hubble here you could see a dime sitting on top of the Washington Monument.'"

4. A Modest Proposal. In case you missed it, Dallas's latest addition to housing for the 1%, Museum Tower, is frying everything within its line of sight on the Nasher Museum premises. "So [writes Christina Rees in Glasstire], one of Dallas’s more admirable enfant terribles, Erik Schuessler . . . came up with an early solution, and so far I haven’t seen one to beat it." (Link added; click on the images for larger versions.)

July 15, 2012

Re- the Stalled Recovery,

From Nation of Change:

While the [National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), an organization that often acts as a front for larger corporate interests] warns that minimum wage increases would create serious cost problems for small businesses, few of their members list "labor costs" as their "most important problem." Instead, what we see from the NFIB survey results is that the percentage of small businesses listing labor costs as their most important problem has hovered consistently between 3% and 5% since the beginning of the recession in December 2007. In the most recent data, the percentage fell to 2%, its lowest level since the start of the recession.

* * * * *
Instead of wages, the NFIB survey results suggest that “poor sales” have been — far and away — the biggest concern of small businesses. At the onset of the recession in December 2007 about 9% of firms said that poor sales were their most serious problem. By 2009 and 2010, the share citing poor sales was as high as 34%. In the most recent data, about 21% of all firms still list poor sales as their biggest challenge. The real problem facing firms is not that their low-wage workers earn too much, it is apparently that their customers earn too little [see chart at right.]
Lots more useful info at DU.

How to Assert Your Rights

Use them or lose them.

(Not to mention the waste of public funds.)

July 14, 2012

Caddy Meditation

Hydrographic image transfer, from Jogging.

July 13, 2012

The LIBOR Scandal Explained

Or, yet another way in which the rich have been looting you – legible version at Dangerous Minds.

From a comment at Naked Capitalism: "Banking is the only . . . sport where the referees don’t enforce the rules and the fans get severely injured when the players cheat."

The NYT now reports, "Congress intensified its focus on the interest-rate rigging scandal on Thursday, as Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, vowed that authorities would forcefully pursue criminal investigations into some of the world's biggest banks" – awesome! Now, who's going to investigate Timmeh?

Another interesting story: per a report at naked capitalism, LIBOR manipulation was commonly recognized in London by 1991 – when Bob Diamond was in charge of interest rate trading at Morgan Stanley London, "which means his claim that he found out about Libor manipulation at Barclays mere weeks before his Treasury Select testimony was bollocks." One commenter makes an excellent point:

I think this may be a more significant data point than it appears at first glance to us jaded cynics. What it says is that not only are our institutions now utterly corrupt, but that they have been getting that way for a long time. This suggests that the problem is not likely to be random, accidental, or personality driven, but rather that it stems from deep structural causes. That is important because it suggests that that is also where the solutions must be found.
FURTHER UPDATE: Salon has a good article explaining how the LIBOR-rigging affected some of us: "Six Ways Big Banks Screwed Grandma – Grandma's finances will almost certainly never recover from the LIBOR scandal that's rocking the world."

Lil Buck & Yo-Yo Ma

(Thanks, Robin!) Some surprisingly similar moves here (click the ad bar along the bottom and it eventually goes away).

e-flux Bidding for .art Domain

Per Art Fag City,

Should e-flux win this Top Level Domain bid, they not only promise a company that will be run under the supervision of a committee of experts comprising . . . art historians, artists and curators, but pledge to return 10% of revenues generated by the service in the form of grants and funding for underfunded art institutions, organizations, and projects.

That’s a big deal. e-flux is asking that we all show our support by leaving a recommendationon ICANN’s site, and I recommend readers do this. . . . Many others seem to think the same . . . .

That’s a good sign, because some of .art applicants make me very nervous. From a list of 10 applicants, Aremi Group S.A., a company located in Luxembourg, has already applied for .ART and DOT ART trademarks within the European Union. They have also set up a website that gives the impression they already manage the domain. .Art Registry, Inc., another contender, is an anonymous company registered in the Cayman Islands. Merchant Law Group LLP is a law firm that says it’s “able to respond to the needs of individuals and large corporations alike by focusing creativity, lateral thinking, and finding solutions.” It’s unclear what their experience in art or managing domains is, beyond having the $185,000 application fee.

As e-flux founder Anton Vidokle explained in a comment,

[W]e are not planning to curate the art domain, should we get to develop it. Not sure why people assume we would do that. What is important is not to sell name space indiscriminately only to maximize profits, and to prevent speculators from registering names that belong to other organizations and individuals. Applications for name spaces will indeed be reviewed, primarily to make sure that only Paddy Johnson will be able to register or only the Brooklyn Museum can get People who work at e-flux are artists and writers . . . . We are not politicians or businessmen, and do not employ deceptive logic. Its very important that there is some solidarity in the artistic community, and that we trust our fellow practitioners. If we can’t manage that, our community will always be prey to the rich and powerful of this world, who will just continue milking it for money, creativity, gentrification, social prestige or whatever it is they want to get from artists. Lastly, the gold rush is not guaranteed: most domains other than .com have failed to earn much money. However if the art domain becomes popular, this could create a significant source of independent funding for art at a time when such resources are rapidly disappearing world wide. We will do our best to realize this.
(Image adapted from ICANN; click on it for a more legible version.)

July 9, 2012

Helpful Image (Restore Glass-Steagall)

(Click on the image for a more legible version.)

UPDATE: From the MetroWest Daily News, quoting but without linking to The Nation:

Why do the losses of Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase matter? The Federal Reserve allowed investment banks to convert to bank holding companies, now owning commercial banks, which are FDIC insured.

William Greider writes in the Nation magazine, “JPMorgan Chase parks all of its vast derivatives holdings in its commercial bank subsidiary, which means the taxpayer is on the hook for these losses since commercial banks are FDIC insured.” Greider further states, “In the event of a collapse, the banks can use its deposit base to pay off the derivatives, while leaving the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to reimburse depositors if their money runs out. JPMorgan has contracts totaling $72 trillion and 99 percent of them are booked at its FDIC- insured bank.”

Continuing — “We are “insuring” other big boys of banking in the same way. Citigroup has nearly all of its $53 trillion in derivatives in its FDIC-insured bank; Goldman Sachs has $44 trillion parked at and FDIC-backed institution. After Bank of America purchased Merrill Lynch, BoA began transferring the securities firm’s derivatives to the FDIC-insured bank, which now holds $47 trillion in contracts.” And the Ryan Republicans want to invest Social Security with these same bankers?

June 30, 2012

Updates on Assange & Manning

This is not just an infowar; it's a p.r. war. And most of the p.r. machinery is owned by t.p.t.b.

Neither Assange nor Wikileaks has been charged with any violation of any law in any country on the planet, though not for lack of strenuous effort by the authorities. The allegations against Assange fall far short of anything considered illegal in the US or most other countries, and the women who made them did not want him prosecuted.

He offered to be questioned while in Sweden before departing for the UK – he lingered there for over a month for that purpose – and he repeatedly offered to be questioned while in the UK. But although Swedish police and prosecutors recently travelled to Serbia to question a suspect in another case, they refused to interview Assange in the UK. They don't want to question him; they want him in their possession.

Gary McKinnon, wanted in the US since 2002 for allegedly committing the biggest hack of US military computers of all time, walks free in the UK. Shawn Sullivan, a convicted pedophile wanted in the US since 1994 for alleged sexual violations of three underage girls, walks free in the UK.

On May 26, 2012, the Swedish Foreign Minister announced a visit by US Sec. of State Hillary Clinton; she arrived in Sweden on June 2. This was the first visit to Sweden by a US Sec. of State since Henry Kissinger spent one day there in 1976. Clinton remained in Sweden for a week.

It should be noted that Sweden is known to have cooperated with the US's rendition program, and that at least one innocent individual in its custody, Muhammad al-Zery, though never actually charged, was sent to Eqypt for torture and held for two years in jail without ever seeing a judge.

Without Assange and Wikileaks, a great many terrible crimes committed by various governments and corporations around the world might never have been revealed. This is what has precipitated the unprecedented efforts to shut Wikileaks down and gain possession of Assange.

Assange's Position in Re- Extradition & Asylum

The excerpts below are from a statement found on WL Central and made yesterday in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and they accurately summarize some of the matters that have been the subjects of misrepresentation most recently.

Yesterday Mr. Assange was served with a letter from the Metropolitan police service requesting that he surrender himself to the Belgravia police station at 11.30 this morning.

Mr Assange has been advised that he should decline to comply with the police request. This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims.

The issues faced by Mr. Assange are serious. His life and liberty and the life and liberty of his organization and those associated with it are at stake.

The United States Government has instigated a grand jury investigation against Julian Assange and other “founders or managers” of Wikileaks. Australian diplomats have described this investigation as being of “unprecedented scale and nature." There is irrefutable evidence in the public record of subpoenas being issued and witnesses being compelled to testify against Mr. Assange. WikiLeaks, the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups have been fighting these subpeonas and other issues arising from the investigation in multiple US courts. US officials have said in open court that the FBI file about the investigation has now reached 42,135 pages. The US department of justice admitted yesterday that its investigation into WikiLeaks proceeds. It is only a matter of time before US authorities begin extradition proceedings against Julian and other leading members of WikiLeaks on various charges including conspiracy to commit espionage. There are credible reports that a sealed indictment has already been made against Mr. Assange. Under US law a sealed indictment can only be made public once Mr. Assange is in custody. For a US official to otherwise acknowledge the existence of a sealed indictment is a criminal offense. The Independent newspaper’s diplomatic correspondent reported that informal talks between the US and Sweden have been conducted.

It should be made clear what would happen if Julian was extradited to the USA. The United Nations special rapporteur for torture, Juan Mendez has formally found that the United States has subjected Julian Assange’s alleged source in this matter, the young soldier Bradley Manning, to conditions amounting to torture. The UN found that the United States subjected Bradley Manning to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. Mr. Manning has been charged by the US government with the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” in relation to his alleged interaction with Mr. Assange. Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for two years and was placed into solitary confinement for 9 months in his cell for 23 hours a day, stripped naked and woken every 5 minutes. His lawyer and support team say these harsh measures were to coerce him into implicating Julian Assange.

So it is clear that there is a legal process in place which will result in taking Julian to the US, which if allowed to succeed would violate his basic rights.

It is accepted by the UK Supreme Court that Julian Assange has not been charged with any criminal offence in Sweden. It is also accepted that he was by told by Swedish authorities that he was free to leave Sweden. And it is also accepted that he has continuously offered to be interviewed by the Swedish authorities here in the UK, should they wish to do so. Although it is normal procedure, Swedish authorities have refused, without reason, to make the 3 hour trip to London and to interview Julian, causing him to be trapped in the UK under virtual house arrest for 561 days and an additional 10 days in solitary confinement – all without charge. Instead they have issued an INTERPOL Red notice and extradition requests.

Julian and his legal team have previously sought assurances from both the UK government and the Swedish government that they will guarantee safe passage after the completion of legal interviews with Mr Assange and both have [refused]. The Swedish executive publicly announced on June 14 that it would detain Mr. Assange in prison without charge.

Once in Sweden under such grave restrictions it would be impossible for Mr. Assange to exercise his asylum rights.

Mr. Assange did not feel safe from US extradition in the UK. We are all too aware of the abuses of the US-UK extradition treaty. Although Mr. Assange has been trapped in the UK, under dangerous circumstances, he at least has had the freedom to apply for political asylum.

It is in this context that Julian has made the difficult decision to seek refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy to ask for asylum.

Julian will remain in the Embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while evidence for his application is being assembled and processed.
See also Glenn Greenwald's summary of the situation and Justice for Assange.

Assange would be a fool to allow himself to fall into the hands of the US or any nation subject to its influence. No doubt t.p.t.b. are too smart to dispose of him in a way that might boost his appeal as a martyr; but once in Swedish or US custody, a lot of things could happen. There could be an unfortunate accident, or he could simply be held incommunicado for a very long time.

Here's a recent BBC piece on the situation:

Below are just some of the revelations made thanks to Wikileaks, as of back in Dec., 2010:

How about the needless gunning down by U.S. military forces of a Reuters cameraman and Iraqi innocents shown in the leaked "Collateral Murder" video? Or, limiting inquiry to the U.S. Embassy cables, what about the revelations that six months before the worldwide economic meltdown, the governor of the Bank of England was secretly proposing a bailout of the world's biggest banks funded by nations such as the U.S.; or that the British government secretly assured the U.S. that it had "put measures in place to protect your interest during the UK inquiry into the causes of the Iraq war"; or that the U.S. dismissed British objections about secret U.S. spy flights taking place from the UK, amid British officials' concerns that the UK would be deemed an accomplice to torture; or that, in response to U.S. pressure, the German government assured the U.S. that it would not follow through on its investigation of the CIA's abduction of a German citizen mistakenly identified as a terrorist, Khaled el-Masri; or that the U.S. threatened the Italian government in order to make sure that no international arrest warrants were issued for CIA agents accused of involvement in the abduction of cleric Abu Omar; or that the U.S. sought assurances from the Ugandan government that it would consult the U.S. before using American intelligence to commit war crimes; or that as of 2009, Shell Oil had infiltrated all the main ministries of the Nigerian government; or that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer paid investigators to unearth corruption links to Nigeria's attorney general so as to pressure him to drop legal action for harm to children from a drug trial; or that government corruption in Afghanistan is rampant (viz. an incident last year when then vice-president Ahmad Zia Massoud was stopped in Dubai while carrying $52m in cash); or that the U.S. seeks to manipulate nations opposed to its approach to global warming; or that the U.S. and China worked together to prevent European nations from reaching an agreement at last year's climate summit; or that the Vatican refused to cooperate with an official Irish inquiry into clerical child abuse; or that BP covered up a giant gas leak in Azerbaijan eighteen months before the Gulf of Mexico disaster? To mention just a few items revealed as of 2010-12-21. (UPDATE: See also Glen Mitchell's "Why Wikileaks Matters" for The Nation; the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "The Best of Cablegate: Where Public Discourse Benefited from the Leaks"; Glenn Greenwald's "What Wikileaks revealed to the world in 2010" at Salon; Wikileaks - A timeline of the top leaks at The Telegraph; and to add just one from 2011 so far, "WikiLeaks points to US meddling . . . to keep the [democratically-elected] Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of Haiti." FURTHER UPDATE: See Greg Mitchell's "32 Major Revelations (and Counting)," including the fact that Wikileaks' publications are widely believed to have helped inspire the uprising in Tunisia against a brutal dictator; OpEd News; Greg Mitchell's top Cablegate picks as of his 100th day of blogging the Wikileaks story, here; and Kevin Gosztola's 100 leaks in 100 tweets, here.
Manning Wins Access to US Damage Assessments

Meanwhile, from AFP:

A US military judge ordered prosecutors Monday to share more documents with WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning after defense lawyers accused them of hiding information that could help their client's case.

For months, Manning's defense team has demanded access to reports by government agencies, including the CIA, that assessed the effect of the leak of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.

Manning is accused of passing on a massive trove of files to WikiLeaks but his lawyers believe the reports will show the alleged disclosures had no major effect on the country's national security.

Judge Denise Lind ruled that government prosecutors must provide "damage assessment" reports from the CIA, the State Department, the FBI, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (Oncix) and other documents that were relevant for the defense.
I strongly suspect that if the effects of the release were really so damaging to legitimate US interests or to innocents in general, the gov't would by now have managed to identify a few particulars it could afford to make public.

UPDATE: Patrick Cockburn has a fine essay at The Independent:
All governments indulge in a degree of hypocrisy between what they say in public and in private. When democratic openness about general actions and policies is demanded, they pretend they are facing a call for total transparency which would prevent effective government. This deliberate and self-serving inflation of popular demands is usually aimed at the concealment of failure and monopolising power.

* * * * *
Assange and WikeLeaks unmasked not diplomatic reticence in the interests of the smooth functioning of government, but duplicity to justify lost wars in which tens of thousand died. Recent history shows that this official secrecy, frequently aided by "embedding" journalists with armies, works all too well.

In Iraq, in the months before the US presidential election in 2004, foreign embassies in Baghdad all knew and reported that US soldiers were only clinging to islands of territory in a hostile land. But the Bush administration was able to persuade US voters that, on the contrary, it was fighting and winning a battle to establish democracy against the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime and the adherents of Osama bin Laden.

State control of information and the ability to manipulate it makes the right to vote largely meaningless. That is why people like Julian Assange are so essential to democratic choice.
Much more at the link. Another good one by B.J. Sachs at Counterpunch.

Word for the Day

Per Wikipedia:

Fnord is the typographic representation of disinformation or irrelevant information intending to misdirect, with the implication of a worldwide conspiracy. The word was coined as a nonsensical term with religious undertones in the Discordian religious text Principia Discordia (1965) by Kerry Thornley and Greg Hill, but was popularized by The Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975) of satirical conspiracy fiction novels by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.[1]

* * * * *
In these novels, the interjection "fnord" is given hypnotic power over the unenlightened. Under the Illuminati program, children in grade school are taught to be unable to consciously see the word "fnord". For the rest of their lives, every appearance of the word subconsciously generates a feeling of uneasiness and confusion, and prevents rational consideration of the subject. This results in a perpetual low-grade state of fear in the populace. The government acts on the premise that a fearful populace keeps them in power.

In the Shea/Wilson construct, fnords are scattered liberally in the text of newspapers and magazines, causing fear and anxiety in those following current events. However, there are no fnords in the advertisements, encouraging a consumerist society. It is implied in the books that fnord is not the actual word used for this task, but merely a substitute, since most readers would be unable to see the actual word.

To see the fnords means to be unaffected by the supposed hypnotic power of the word or, more loosely, of other fighting words. A more common expression of the concept would be "to read between the lines." The term may also be used to refer to the experience of becoming aware of a phenomenon's ubiquity after first observing it. The phrase "I have seen the fnords" was famously graffitied on a railway bridge (known locally as Anarchy Bridge) between Earlsdon and Coventry (U.K.) city centre throughout the 1980s and 1990s, until the bridge was upgraded. The bridge and the phrase were mentioned in the novel A Touch of Love by Jonathan Coe.
(Some links removed.)

June 29, 2012

"100 meters behind the future"

. . . a new work by eteam,

is a live film . . . shot, acted, directed, edited, screened, watched and deleted in real time. It’s a film about delay, the expansion of cinema and the paranoia that creeps in when the mash-up of several time zones and realities escapes the logical explanations of the captive audience.

The screening room is the front row of a van in which one or two people are being driven around while following the action in double view - through the windshield of the car and the screen of the device they hold in their hands. They simultaneously see what is happening right now and what has happened 10 seconds ago.

The project was part of the “For Real” program at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam, 2012. Read more about the program here.
Video and more details re- eteam's project here.

More Great Gifs

. . . at Born in 1987, "an exhibition devoted to this overlooked image format native to the web and the computer screen." Keep scrolling down and it loads more.

From a tweet

(Sorry I've misplaced the source; pls let me know it, if you do.)

Electronic Voting: Command Central

There's an excellent article by the Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-op about one of the major suppliers of electronic voting technology in Wis., Command Central:

Forty-six Wisconsin counties and 3,000 voting machines are being controlled by a two-person company operating out of a strip mall in Minnesota.

* * * * *
In his report of his experience with the November 2010 gubernatorial election for Scott Walker, John Washburn, an election integrity investigator and professional software tester for almost 20 years, states, “I have been to dozens of voting system test sessions and have never seen any of this faux ‘testing’ actually test the voting system software correctly. This is the professional opinion of a software tester testing software since 1994.”

* * * * *
Last September, Election Integrity investigators discovered that . . . Command Central sent those 46 districts an offer: trade out your old Optech Insight Scanner for two DRE Touch Screen models, at no charge. The Optech machine is the one that paper ballots are fed through to read and register the votes.

While these machines are also susceptible to hacking . . . it is possible to physically monitor the paper ballots as they are fed through the machine to see if they match the machine totals.

With DRE Touch Screens, however, one’s vote could be flipped and one would never know because there is no receipt or paper trail voters receive to confirm their vote was counted as voted. . . .

And according to John Washburn, this swap-out two-for-one offer violates the statutes issued by the GAB for State approved system as described on the Government Accountability Board’s website that requires the inclusion of an Optech Insight Scanner.

On January 13, 2012, Washburn emailed the GAB about this situation. When he did not receive an answer, he submitted an Open Records request to the GAB, with no reply. On May 2, he submitted another, again to no response. On May 4, he turned the case over to Dane County Attorney, and on May 14 he kicked it up to the Department of Justice.
Much more at the link. Similar situations now exist not only in other states but around the world.

(Earlier companies supplying electronic voting technologies, such as Diebold and ES&S, are gone, or at least their names are.)

June 27, 2012

Colorado Fires

Photo via Twitter user @FSUKilroy, showing wildfire just outside Colorado Springs.

June 26, 2012

Political Art Month

From San Antonio artist, Gene Elder:

Due to the high survellance of Texas artists, Political Art Month has been cancelled. The revolution will not be televised.

It has come to our attention that "political art will not be tolerated in a free society."

All artists have been notified that their art making activities will be monitored. And any art that is upsetting to City Hall or the government of the United States will be shut down and the gallery will be told to close.

"Most artists are fine with this" says Beth Ann Forlet, "We have better things to do as artists than worry about what is going on in the world. San Antonio artists don't get involved in this nonsense. Crafts fairs are what we want, along with more fund raisers at Blue Star. I adore RED DOT. You get to meet people and the food is wonderful. Everyone has a good time. That is what an art community should be focused on. I like going to the McNay because it takes me away from thinking about war and Wall Street. Gene Elder and David Freeman are just wasting their time trying to get artists involved. I hope they have stopped with this silly idea that July should be concerned with political art. I hate when artists think they are important."

June 24, 2012

Taboo Hall of Fame

(Thanks, Ben!) The peace sign makes it. (Re- the gun, see my previous post.)

More taboo tableaux here.

For the Kidless (or Others)

I just discovered that Devo, Flaming Lips et al. have been doing mtv for a kids' show called YoGabbaGabba. Dancing is encouraged.

You can also learn to draw an elephant with Mark Mothersbaugh.