Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eye for an Eye

Four years ago Ameneh Bahrami was blinded after a man she had refused to marry poured sulfuric acid over her head. Now, an Iranian court has ruled that five drops of the acid be put in each of her attacker's eyes. Bahrami emotionally stated, "At an age where I should be putting on a wedding dress, I am asking for someone's eyes to be dripped with acid. I am doing that because I don't want this to happen to any other women." I understand her reaction, I understand the desire to show people that there are consequences for such horrible examples of social violence. But...

An eye for an eye? Really? Hammurabi's code was created in 1760 BC- hasn't the idea of justice evolved at all since then? Isn't part of the reason for a modern legal system to ameliorate individual desire for revenge? Retribution is not justice. Torture is not justice. The best thing that can be said about this (and it is a very good thing) is that the crime is being taken seriously by the courts. After all, this is a region where honor killings, disfugurements, stoning and myriad other forms of social violence go ignored, unreported and unprosecuted. I hope that other victims of such violence take courage from Ameneh's example and demand justice. But I also hope they remember that women's rights cannot be separated from human rights. One cannot be achieved at the expense of the other- that is a dangerous road that leads toward no rights at all.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Dose of (hilarious) Surreality

Presented without comment: an Iraqi journalist throwing his shoes at President Bush.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Not-so-virgin Mary

If only everyone were so honest about their fetishization of religious icons. You know there are naughty young evangelicals who have illicit "Jesus 'saved' me" (winkwinknudgenudge) fantasies. WWJD, yknow? Too bad Playgirl is kaput- no Jesus in a centerfold for us. But, while I am absolutely not going to do the research, I'm willing to bet that the dark n scary crevasses of the internets have plenty to offer for that sort of kink. READ MORE! READ MORE!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's a fucking valuable thing!

Offered nothing but appreciation?!

Blago is so out there it sounds like he's aiming for an insanity defense. READ MORE! READ MORE!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Twenty Eight Years Ago Today

WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It) from Yoko Ono on Vimeo.


"Welcome to my hanging"

Just regular old Bushy unfortunate word choice or intentional (though weird) joke? I really hope its the former, cause I hate it when people I loathe display self-awareness. Takes all the fun out of mocking them.

Well, most of the fun.

Anyway, /cheer that Bush defiled my city for (hopefully) the last time. He joined us for the Army/Navy game (meh...at least it wasn't the Eagles) and then to the Union League to see the unveiling of the above portrait.

The Union League is like a trojan horse of Republicanism in the heart of our staunchly Democratic burg. It occupies a really beautiful building smack in the middle of our Avenue of the Arts and I'm pretty sure that no one who actually lives in Philadelphia ever enters it. Founded in 1862 to support the policies of Pres Lincoln, the club has now basically become a place for rich white men to fellate other rich white men that have been elected to public office. And such it was with Bush's visit!

Bush was added to the League's famous collection of presidential portraits. To the wonder of exactly no one, the collection includes only one democrat (Jackson) and all but two repubs (Harrison and Harding). Bush is the first since Hoover to be included on the wall 'o fame while still in office. He also recieved the League's "gold medal", which has been bestowed on only 37 people since 1862. Incidentally, Bush's Asshole Triumverate, Cheney, Rummy and Ridgey, have all received it too! Quelle suprise, no?

But really, Union League, who are you trying to fool? This ceremonial nonsense just reads as desperation from where I'm sitting. Showering honors on him as though he wasn't the worst pres EVER won't make his legacy any more impressive.


Now, I'm no fan of Jessica Alba...

But surely she deserves a ribcage. And most of her abdominal organs. You need them to drink alcohol, so oughtn't they be represented when shilling alcohol?

Or at the very, very least give her a competent photoshopper. Check out the left side of her waist- that is some awkward whittling. If you're going to hack people's bodies out of recognition, its best not to use the sixteen year old unpaid intern to wield the eraser tool. READ MORE! READ MORE!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

When Bad Economic Crises Happen to Good Con Artists

Hey, you heard? There's a global recession on. And let me tell you, the multi-million dollar world of multi-millionaire pretend artists hasn't escaped unscathed.

Blahblahblah auction house art revenues down blahblahblah. Duh. Old, obvious news. What tickles me is that McArtist with Cheese, Damien Hirst, is laying off the people that actually make his art!

Full Disclosure: I used to like Damien Hirst. Well, "like" is a strong word. Let's say intrigued by. I can honestly say that this is entirely due to the work that introduced me to him in the 90s: The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.

Say what you will about the guy, that makes for a pretty striking installation. Its a shark. In a box. And who doesn't love a gallery plaque that that says "Materials: tiger shark, steel, 5% formaldehyde solution." But unfortunately, after seeing the piece I looked into the artist and found he is the biggest fake since Jeff Koons.

Hirst is the Paris Hilton of the art world- all branding and publicity. He's got nothing to say about anything. But jeez, at least Paris actually appears on her own reality shows or whatever- Hirst doesn't even create his own art. He has a Warhol-style "factory" (he can't even be original in his fakery) and says that he employs people to make his art because "I can't be fucking arsed to do it." Blech. Plenty of artists have employed assistants through the ages, but come on. He could at least pay them a living wage. Or, yknow, not fire them the moment the economic going gets tough. I mean, every piece he makes goes for over a million dollars! And frankly, I think his whole strategy has been to appeal to the recession-proof type motherfuckers of the world so he can't be in that much trouble. But you need to have art in order to sell it. Who's going to produce for you now, buddy? I mean, really, if you really can't afford the grad-studenty pay scale of your assistants, what are you going to do instead? Offshore? I can see it now: rows of shoeless Chinese children gluing diamond after diamond on a procession of human skulls...

And what of the unemployed underlings? I think they should all band together and make a show of Hirstian knockoffs. Its the same hands making the same art(or close enough to the same...gotta avoid copyright infringement), so there's probably a market, especially if you highlight the pedigree. Hell, there's more of a market. Hirst priced himself out of a good chunk of the market long ago, and now his boat is getting even smaller. Not small enough for it to sink, but definitely small enough to let some other boats in on the action. And its not like he can really lower his prices without damaging his whole "aesthetic" (read: aspirational brand-image).

So get in there, underlings! Cut his legs out from under him. I want to see an Ikea full of pickled shark coffee tables.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hide Your Firstborns

Cause this is some End of Days shit, right here.

I'm freaked out by this sudden plethora of species undergoing a catastrophic population decline. I mean, we've had "endangered species" for decades, and there are plenty of animals and ecosystems we're driving into steady decline. Loss of habitat (generally and due to global warming), pollution, over-hunting/fishing...these have been in the works for a while. Yeah, its starting to catch up with us in a big way, but its still something we've been able to see coming.

But for the last couple years there has been an increasing trickle of news stories with headlines like "Mystery Deaths Spark Fears of _____ Extinction". The sudden, devastating spread of colony collapse disorder among honey bees is the most famous, but there also dramatic die-offs among amphibians, North American bats, oak trees and probably a bunch more that I haven't heard of. And probably even more that no one has heard of. This is scary to me. After all, the accelerating decline of, say, polar bears is sad and totally our fault, but it doesn't give you Ten Biblical Plagues images like this one:

With the trees its not a rush of plague death, but its equally spooky. It seems that oaks in many areas of America produced ZERO acorns this year. None. People talk about walking in the forests near their home and just feeling like something was wrong. They couldn't figure out what it was until they realized they didn't hear the familiar crunch of acorns underfoot or the the thwock of one hitting the ground. I have a feeling we're in for a lot more of these unsettling absences when we go out into the natural world.

And I don't get how cavalier some of the scientists in that article are. Its always "cyclical" or a "bad season"...until suddenly you're looking at population collapse. Here's a quote: "What's there to worry about? If you're a squirrel, its a big worry. But its no problem for the oak tree. They live a long time. They'll produce acorns when they're ready to." Setting aside the potential for thousands of starving squirrels mobbing family pets and small children, I would think that something as unusual as zero production would generate a little more concern from that guy, especially given the equally unheard-of problems occuring in the populations of other species. And especially especially given that there is starting to be a pretty strong consensus that we're in the midst of a sixth mass extinction event, with extinction rates thought to be higher than any previous extinction event, and estimates that as much as 50% of species will be gone by the end of the 21st century. Come on, dude, why you think oak trees are immune?

I also like how "EUREKA!" everyone gets when some research team can stick a name on whatever disease is cutting down a species. "Oh its Chytridiomycosis that's killing all the frogs. Phew, glad we figured that one out." Well, I don't know about you guys but I would be more concerned with why all these diseases and disorders are crawling out of the woodwork to decimate perfectly well-adapted animal populations. And I'd want to do more to predict which one of these diseases is going to develop a taste for h. sapiens, y'know?