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Thumbs & Ammo: Popular movie scenes where ‘thumbs-up’ replaces the guns
06.26.2013
02:34 pm
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For those who haven’t seen this one yet: Thumbs & Ammo is a Tumblr dedicated to replacing guns with the always awesome thumbs-up. Their motto is:

Real tough guys don’t need guns, they just need a positive, can-do attitude.

And it’s Fonzie approved.
 

 

 

 

 

 
With thanks to Alice Lowe

 

Posted by Tara McGinley
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06.26.2013
02:34 pm
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Wendy Davis’ filibuster was cool and all, but did you see what was going on RIGHT OUTSIDE?
06.26.2013
02:06 pm
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Texas protesters
Photo courtesy of Michael Ganther
 
If you’re not stateside (or if you’ve been living under a rock), you might not have been following Texas bill SB 5, which would have shut down 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics and banned all abortions after 20 weeks. Heroic Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis (who saw her office firebombed last year due to her support of Planned Parenthood) filibustered for thirteen hours to kill the bill, a surprise and relief in this political atmosphere.

However, what I think deserves at least the same amount of coverage are the everyday folks whorallied against SB 5. Check this out!
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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06.26.2013
02:06 pm
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None Dare Call it FASCISM: How the NSA has (already) privatized tyranny
06.26.2013
12:49 pm
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Though most people seem to be dimly aware of the fact that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was not technically an employee of NSA or the US Federal Government, I don’t see anyone raising the kind of stink that this pertinent little fact truly merits. And combine that with the “anything goes” environment that was clearly in operation while Snowden was peering into pretty much whatever he wanted, and the implications are pretty fucking serious indeed.

Let’s start with one of Snowden’s comments to Glenn Greenwald and the UK’s Guardian newspaper:

But I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail.”

Say what? So I’m not allowed to even know this program exists, but a high school dropout working in a lowly cubical in Booz Allen Hamilton can listen in to everything I say on the telephone or write in an email or post on the Internet? What the fuck? Doesn’t anyone see how screwy that is?

Maybe we’ve just stopped giving a shit and are hoping to ride out the last years of Empire in blissful ignorance, chatting about cute cats on Facebook and watching our favorite shows on TV (The Mad Men season finale was just superb, wasn’t it?) OK, I get that. But let’s at least think about what it is we’re tuning out because, who knows? It could cause the US death-spiral to come around far sooner than anticipated, and that would be a serious buzz kill.

So let’s break it down, shall we? What’s the biggest secret exposed by Snowden so far? That the NSA engages in ubiquitous surveillance on pretty much all forms of communication in the US, of both domestic as well as internationally-bound traffic? Well, we kinda knew that already. Back in 2005 AT&T Telecom engineer Mark Klein blew the whistle on the NSA’s “secret room” in the Folsom Street CO (Central Office). Any kind of analysis of that setup (and Klein even included the connection diagrams) would give you a decent idea of what was going on. So no, ubiquitous surveillance wasn’t much of a surprise, not if you were paying careful attention.

What IS a surprise was just how fucked up and sloppy the whole NSA operation is. In fact, during his live chat via The Guardian’s website on June 17th, Snowden said this:

Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications.

In other words, the National Security Agency just let a bunch of freelance contractors more or less run wild with unlimited access to the most sensitive conceivable data of any and every US citizen along with a goodly portion of communications of non-US residents as well.

Monitoring? Controls? Audits? Are you shittin’ me? But how can we be absolutely sure, you might ask, that Snowden was telling the truth? Precisely because even a low-level contractor was able to access and download highly classified PowerPoint presentations and a whole smorgasbord of super secret spy stuff and then leak it to the world! (In modern computer networks this is trivial to control.)

At first blush it would appear that the main thing NSA has been doing with their impenetrable cloak of secrecy is to completely goof off and unaccountably run wild with their very special powers with the only “control” in place being the fear that any leakers would experience the Bradley Manning treatment. If it weren’t for the NSA cone of silence, this would be heralded universally as laughably and unbelievably incompetent. On the other hand, perhaps this isn’t simply complete negligence. Perhaps it’s the symptom of something far darker…

Consider what YOU would do with that level of access. After you got into work, grabbed coffee, and read TMZ, you might spend half an hour or so checking out red-tagged conversations of, say, members of Mosques in Brooklyn, or say, groups of Muslim girls gathering to watch Jon Stewart (yeah, that’s a real thing), or maybe even listen in on the methed-out ravings of some hillbilly militia scaring each other into buying yet more guns in preparation of the UN’s inevitable communist takeover of bumfuck Idaho. But all of that “real work” would get boring fast. So maybe you daydream a bit and then, all of a sudden, it hits you: What if you could, say, listen in on the CEOs, CFOs and whatever other Os there are of some mega-corporation. Hell, you could probably use a special software “agent” to automatically scan huge wads of traffic and send you anything with the phrases, “Bankruptcy announcement to the press tomorrow”, or “Earnings shortfall” or “Hostile takeover.” Knowing as you do that no one’s monitoring what you access on those super-secret NSA pipes, you realize it would be both trivially easy and unbelievably lucrative to act on an early tip before it was announced to Wall Street. In fact, you could possibly make millions.

But then another thought hits you. Maybe, just maybe, you aren’t the first person to think of this. In fact, Booz Allen Hamilton has been growing their government consulting business to National Security agencies by leaps and bounds, and their financial consulting arm has been doing pretty good too:

Booz Allen provides support to all federal finance and treasury organizations charged with the collection, management, and protection of the nation’s financial system. Such agencies include the US Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Reserve Board and Banks, Securities Exchange Commission, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

So doesn’t this strike you as somewhat “funny”? Isn’t this some major league conflict of interest? On the one hand, BAH has been clearly given carte blanche to listen in on anything and everything, and they also happen to be in the financial “consulting” business. Would BAH ever take a significant financial position based on, oh let’s say, very privileged information? Though they may or may not do this under their own name, they clearly have the financial chops to create a vast maze of shell companies. Or maybe BAH as an organization doesn’t do this, but bigshots within it do.

Perhaps this sounds paranoid or like completely baseless speculation, but after the LIBOR and REIT scandals, it’s obvious that there are no government checks in place to detect such activities. Moreover, even if this hasn’t actually happened yet, given the sloppiness of the controls and unlimited access to surveillance data, it’s absolutely obvious that this is going to happen sooner or later. Indeed, perhaps that sloppiness in protecting confidential data is precisely because someone’s dipping into this data goldmine and is making out like a bandit.

From here it’s easy to imagine all sorts of ugly scenarios: A giant, über-secret private company that is ultimately answerable to no one but that has access to anything you might say or post on the Internet (ie, including what you might do to try to stop it), while also being able to capitalize on their access to literally priceless financial secrets via their consulting and access to the markets. Once such a monstrosity sunk its claws in deep enough it would be very difficult to pull that thing off…ever. Then again, isn’t this what the Koch Brothers and their stooges the Tea Party wanted all along? They want to kill the state and Federal agencies so that a small keiretsu of giant companies can step in and take over. This “state corporatism” had a name which was called, hold on a minute while I remember…oh yeah, that’s right, Fascism.

Am I saying there’s some gigantic fascist conspiracy out there ready to take over the world? Nah. Well, probably not. But the point is that there doesn’t need to be an actual conspiracy in order for our true liberties to be under attack by the large corporations: Remember, Nestlé‘s CEO wants to privatize your water supply and sell your water back to you; Bush, Cheney and the cartoonishly malevolent Dr Strangelove Donald Rumsfeld privatized war and Mike McConnell of Booz Allen Hamilton has long been a (successful) advocate of privatizing US national security (and he was previously director of National Security under Bush).

Where’s all this headed? I don’t know, but I DO know it ain’t headed for more security, more freedom and better access to water in the world! These fuckers have a vested interest in keeping things nice and turbulent while making you think that there are legions of Muslims, communists and homosexuals out there just waiting to steal your freedoms, give away all your hard-earned stuff and sodomize your children. Meanwhile, of course, they and the Congress they have bought and paid for keep defunding essential Federal programs to the point where they can no longer function properly, so the public concludes, “Well, these government agencies can’t do anything so we might as well just get rid of them. And let’s privatize prisons and schools while we’re at it.”

Who knows? Will we soon enter the time where private contractors raised on “Call of Duty” operate domestic drones and have kill quotas that earn them cash incentives? Fuck, I read the kill list wrong, one might say, Can you ask your buddy to change the name on my list to whoever it was I just nailed? Thanks, pal. Beers are on me tonight.

What’s the solution? I don’t know, but let’s apply a nice, hot blowtorch to Booz Allen Hamilton’s filthy snout and push them the hell out of that giant government feeding trough filled to the brim with our tax dollars: They’re clearly incompetent, negligent, and have allowed documents of National Security to be accessed, downloaded and then leaked. (And don’t misunderstand: Snowden is a hero for exposing all of what’s been going on, but that still doesn’t mean BAH wasn’t negligent.) We also need to take baseball bat to the giant, heavy-lidded porcine head of the NSA as it gobbles down the information you and I own.

Let’s just not miss what is arguably an even greater danger, the privatization and outsourcing of tyranny itself to the big mega-corporates.
 

 

Posted by Em
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06.26.2013
12:49 pm
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Trans activist Sylvia Rivera shouts down the crowd at Christopher Street Rally, 1973
06.26.2013
11:16 am
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Sylvia Rivera
Sylvia Rivera, at a sweet moment
 
The Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally started in 1970 with the express purpose of asserting the visibility of gays and lesbians demanding rights and respect. It also commemorated The Stonewall Riots, a series of violent clashes with police attempting to raid The Stonewall Inn, a New York gay club commonly targeted for police harassment and brutality. Here we see Latina trans activist Sylvia Rivera, homeless from the age of ten and brutalized by the police ever since, fighting for the mic in Washington Square Park to demand gay and lesbian activists recognize more than white, middle-class, cisgendered folks in the struggle.

You can hear the boos and heckles as she denounces the burgeoning transphobic, bourgeois queer culture, in spite of the fact that she herself was a Stonewall Rioter at the age of 18. Sylvia would not be intimidated, shouting, “You all tell me go and hide my tail between my legs! I will not any longer put up with this shit!” Rivera continued her radical activism up until her death in 2002, criticizing assimilationist gay initiatives up until the very end.

With today’s Supreme Court to ruling on DOMA, I’d like to keep her in mind. There’s still so much work to be done. Sylvia Rivera didn’t shout through a crowd of her own community for nothing.
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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06.26.2013
11:16 am
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I guess ‘Exploding Actresses’ is a new thing
06.26.2013
10:49 am
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YouTuber Simone Rovellini does a damned good job at making this mess look real. Lots of folks are puzzled at how Rovellini fills in the background where the “missing” head is supposed to be.

Rovellini simply replied, “It is all made in After Effects.”

 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley
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06.26.2013
10:49 am
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‘My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter,’ a brilliant response to children’s high fashion
06.26.2013
10:46 am
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child models
“The only thing Quinoa likes to rescue more than puppies are children that shop for clothes at Wal-Mart.”

Pinterest exists outside my purview of femininity. A large part of that is (admittedly) my own laziness. Scrapbooking your lifestyle aspirations requires the drive to parse through a never-ending well of images, constructing and curating your own vision. It also requires… aspirations, which I rarely have.

I’m not crafty in the slightest, nor do I wish to acquire those skills. I enjoy good food, and even looking at the ambitious creations of others, but the idea of emulating a recipe fills me with anxiety.  I even like clothes and fashion, but I prefer not to gaze longingly at stuff I can’t afford, and frankly, most photo editorials leave me bored or annoyed.

But finally, finally, I have found a Pinterest that speaks to my soul (or whatever it is I have instead). “My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter” is the creation of some brilliant mind who is well-versed in the ludicrousness of the children’s fashion idiom. If couture is silly, kiddie couture is insane, and whoever made this board hit the nail on the head with captions and photos about her imaginary daughter, “Quinoa”) (and sometimes her bff, “Chevron.”)
 
child model
“One time when Quinoa and I got separated in a busy train station, she thankfully remembered our safety training: stay in one place, look spectacular, and don’t talk to poor people.”
 
More from My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Amber Frost
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06.26.2013
10:46 am
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Chinese workers hold American factory owner ‘hostage’... sort of
06.26.2013
10:13 am
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owner
 
Chip Starnes, founder and president of Specialty Medical Supplies, has been “held hostage” since Friday at his own factory in Beijing… kind of. Appearing totally unaccompanied by his “captors,” Starnes talked openly with a reporter through a three-foot high gate. When the reporter asked why Starnes doesn’t just climb over and leave, he replied, “I think I could absolutely do that, but I think that would probably be the wrong impression to give at this point in time.”

Starnes says the dispute is over demands for unmerited pay. He recently laid off 30 workers after moving their jobs to India, and they received severance. He says the 80 employees refusing to let him leave “got jealous” and demanded the same severance, which he insists it would be “business suicide.”

The workers, who were quite happy to talk to the press, say that they haven’t been paid in two months, and that they simply want their wages.

Now, I can’t find much on Starnes, (except that he lives in lovely Parkland, Florida, where the estimated median house value is $873,176), but the minimum wage in Beijing is 1,400 Chinese Yuan, or $227.77 a month. While CBS seems all but assured of his innocence and victimhood, I am, to say the least, skeptical.
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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06.26.2013
10:13 am
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David Lynch’s ode to teenage heartbreak: ‘Are You Sure?’
06.26.2013
09:33 am
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A new ditty, “Are You Sure?,” from David Lynch’s new album The Big Dream which will be released in mid-July.

Somewhere in an alternate universe, teenage hearts are breaking.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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06.26.2013
09:33 am
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Sex is like sneezing: Truman Capote explains his views on love, 1969
06.26.2013
09:10 am
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etopacnamurt.jpg
Photograph of Truman Capote, 1948, by Carl Van Vechten.

Truman Capote is quite adorable in this interview with David Frost from 1969, although the great writer becomes slightly unstuck by his inquisitor’s questioning.

When asked, Capote says love and friendship are the same thing, but that sex doesn’t have anything to do with friendship.

“I think it is very difficult to have a sexual relationship with somebody who is actually a friend, because there is a kind of tension and antagonism that goes on in a sexual relationship that is the antithesis of friendship.”

Though he may have once written that sex was like sneezing, Capote reveals he has had more “love relationships” than “sex relationships.” Which puzzles Frost, as Capote only admits to having been in love twice.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.26.2013
09:10 am
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Devo drummer Alan Myers R.I.P.
06.26.2013
08:49 am
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Alan Myers, Devo’s drummer from 1976 to 1985, has died of cancer.

Devo’s Gerald Casale praised Myers on Twitter:

... the most incredible drummer I had the privilege to play with for 10 years. Losing him was like losing an arm. RIP!! I begged him not to quit Devo. He could not tolerate being replaced by the Fairlight and autocratic machine music. I agreed. Alan, you were the best – a human metronome and then some. A once in a lifetime find thanks to Bob Mothersbaugh. U were born to drum Devo!”

Myers laying down his indelible and deeply quirky groove:
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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06.26.2013
08:49 am
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